Publication details [#3243]

Camp, Elisabeth Maura. 2004. The generality constraint, nonsense, and categorial restrictions. Studies in Language and Linguistics 54 (215) : 209–231. 23 pp. URL


We should not admit categorial restrictions on the significance of syntactically well-formed strings. Syntactically well-formed but semantically absurd strings, such as 'Life's but a walking shadow' and 'Caesar is a prime number', can express thoughts; and competent thinkers both are able to grasp these thoughts and should to be able to grasp them. Gareth Evans' Generality Constraint should be viewed as a fully general constraint on concept possession and propositional thought, even though Evans himself restricted it. This is because (a) even well-formed but semantically cross-categorial strings typically do possess substantive inferential roles; (b) hearers exploit these inferential roles in interpreting such strings metaphorically; (c) there is no good reason to deny truth-conditions to strings that have inferential roles. (Elisabeth Camp)