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The supplement of the copula: linguistic light on an old logical problem.


ASSERTIONS ARE A SYMBOLIC FORM that exists only within species-specifically human language. Language, of course, allows for many other conventions of symbolic expression: greetings, exclamations, commands, exhortations, imprecations, interrogatives, and so forth. But assertions are unique in possessing, of themselves, a truth-value--that is to say, in being adjudicable as true or false. All other varieties of discourse are adjudicable as true or false by reason of assertions they presuppose, contain, or imply. But the assertion as such is what is directly so adjudicable.

A. Choosing Terminology: New Bottles for Old Wine. An assertion, in traditional logic, is commonly called a "proposition." The status of the proposition as such, as distinct from its particular linguistic expression, has led to many debates over the centuries. Among recent philosophers who call themselves "linguistic," some have preferred to speak rather of "statements" or "sentences" ("sentences in the indicative mood," "declarative sentences with tenseless verbs," and so forth(1)) than propositions, in order to evade debate over the objective status of propositions. But this preference amounts to little more than a verbal dodge. The irreducible fact is that, whatever it be called, there is a unit of discourse which of itself is adjudicable as true or false; and this unit, whatever it be called, is the focal point of logical concern--both as to what are the linguistic factors necessary to constitute it, and as to what are the further linguistic constructs that can be made from it in the line of truth and falsity--when we say of a position that it is incomplete, inconsistent, "full of holes," well-reasoned, and so on.

It is important to note that although some linguistic units of discourse are adjudicable as true or false, these linguistic units are far from the only elements of our experience that exhibit that quality. While debates among logicians, particularly within the framework of so-called linguistic philosophy, have been cast in a decidedly glottocentric mold over the past fifty years, introduction of the semiotic point of view into the debate immediately indicates ways of breaking this mold and giving new life to the concerns of logic, which was originally conceived as providing an interpretive instrument useful across the range of human concerns, at least insofar as these concerns involve or are brought to expression in the peculiar symbolic form of linguistic discourse.

As in so many other areas of semiotic inquiry, the principal clues in this area of "logical language," so to say, have been provided by the seminal work of Charles Sanders Peirce, the first, and so far the only, logician who attempted to rethink the concerns of logical tradition from the perspective of the sign. It is true that a long line of Latin philosophers, in the Iberian world of Renaissance times particularly, from Domingo de Soto(2) to John Poinsot(3) and Comas del Brugar,(4) explicitly recognized well before Peirce that the doctrine of signs provides the foundation for any inquiry, including inquiry within logic. Before Peirce, however, no one attempted to rebuild the whole logical edifice, so to speak, with an eye to demonstrating at each step the reliance on semiotic foundations.

New ways of thinking require, inevitably, new ways of speaking. Thus, among Peirce's first moves toward reconstituting logic as semiotic was the attempt to settle upon a suitable vocabulary. Having already in play the basic trichotomy of sign as icon, index, and symbol, with species-specifically human language located as a principally symbolic function, Peirce soon proposed a trichotomic subdivision of symbols specifically applicable to the concerns of logic. The centerpiece in this subdivision was what Peirce called the "dicisign," that is, a sign which "says something" (from the Latin dicere, to speak or to say), which makes an assertion, and by so doing conveys information in the manner adjudicable as true or false.

Just as there are symbols which are not linguistic symbols--some of which, like flags and monuments, presuppose language (postlinguistic symbols, the structures of human culture generally); and others of which, like the balloon of balloon flies or the dance of bees, are prelinguistic--so also there are dicisigns which are not linguistic, such as weathervanes, the trail indicating an animal's direction of passage, and so forth. Of course, dicisigns which are linguistic, no less than those which are not, involve iconic and indexical dimensions.(5)

Here we are concerned only with linguistic dicisigns as such. At the same time we must keep in mind the important reservation that linguistic dicisigns are part of a much larger class within experience as a whole, and retain their semiotic connections with that larger class and with the whole of experience within which they occur and function (which is why logic, properly developed and conceived, like semiotics of which it is a part, can be a tool useful for natural as well as cultural investigations).

Within language, then, dicisigns contrast with the other modalities of discourse in always having an assertion as their essential and immediate content. Thus linguistic dicisigns are always indicative sentences or statements considered on the side of their sensible (that is, sensorially accessible) expression, and are propositions considered on the side of their expressed objective content as intelligibly accessible. Dicisigns may be used to lie, but their character as adjudicable makes the lie always at risk and subject to disclosure. They may be used to express a truth, but even then the fallible character of human knowledge always leaves the dicisign at risk of being false as well. In addition, of course, a dicisign may be false, but mistaken for true in a community of common belief.

The dicisign, logically considered, always has parts, even when, as sometimes happens, it is linguistically simple. Thus, a statement may be made using but a single word: as such, that is, as made up from but one lexical item, it is simple.(6) But inasmuch as a lexical unit functions dicisignificatively, as we will see, it is perforce always complex, identificatory of some object about which object something further (something beyond the mere identification) is said. The object of discourse is both identified (first aspect) and characterized in some definite further way (second aspect.)

In the usual case, the dicisign is lexically complex as well as dicisignificatively so. "Clarence Thomas was confirmed to the Supreme Court" is a dicisign, that is, a linguistic whole adjudicable as true or false by reason of the content asserted. The lexical complexity here is not identical with the dicisignificative complexity. Nonetheless, regarding the lexical complexity in its own right, we have eight distinct words employed to make up the assertion, no one of which taken separately retains the quality of being adjudicable as true or false. Any linguistic element, as such, identifies an object. That is to say, any linguistic element is a sign which signifies something, be that something real or unreal, static or active, substance or operation, and so forth. But when a sign within language signifies its object without also making an assertion about what it identifies, Peirce suggested that we call it a "rheme," in contrast to a dicisign.

One dicisign may also be combined with one or more other dicisigns so as to give a reason for what yet another dicisign asserts. This is the case of the suadisign or argument (from the Latin suadere: to support, to persuade), which Peirce also called a "delome."

At this point, we can see, the new terminology is at risk of getting out of hand. Some of the new terms are derivative from Latin, and others from Greek, with no consistent principle for the derivation apparent. Struggling with new ideas necessarily leads to struggles with new terminology and the risk of tangles. I think at this point the risk of tangles is best reduced by settling on a consistent principle of derivation for the requisite novel terms.

I suggest first that Latin derivatives in this matter are to be preferred over Greek derivatives. My reason for so suggesting has a threefold basis. First, the unified notion of signum as applying equally to natural events and cultural occurrences was, so far as we know, an indigenous Latin creation. According to Umberto Eco and his collaborators, prior to Augustine no such unified notion of the sign existed.(7) Second, the explicit recognition that the sign is the universal instrument of interpretation, coextensive not only with the activity of mind but also with the variety of biological forms and the inanimate manifestations of nature, was also an expressly Latin accomplishment. Third, it is the Latin authors, as mentioned above, who first gave explicit recognition to the semiotic foundations of logic as a whole. In these regards, the foundations of semiotic consciousness are more Latin than they are Greek.

With sign as the generic term, then, dicisign and suadisign within Peirce's family of terms are excellent cognate derivatives specific to the enterprise of logic. But what are we to say of the rheme? Here it would be better to follow Peirce's example in principle rather than in practice: we need a new term, derived from Latin, to stand alongside dicisign and suadisign. To suit this purpose I suggest the term "represign."

Like all signs, the represign, in order to be a sign at all, performs the minimal sign function of standing for something other than itself. Unlike the dicisign, which goes on to say something about what it represents, the represign only presents its object and nothing more; it is a represign. The represign is a simple representation, as the dicisign is a complex one. The dicisign is a linguistic sign which, besides representing its object, presents that object as existing in a definite way. The dicisign not only identifies something as represented, but gives further information about what is represented. The represign merely represents; the dicisign represents and says something about what is represented. In addition, when, as frequently happens, a complex of dicisigns goes so far as to give a reason for what is said about what is represented, that complex ceases to be a mere dicisignificative linguistic unit and becomes rather a suadisignificative one.

B. Filling the Bottles, or, Does the Terminology Hold? The distinction between logical signs as represignificative, dicisignificative, and suadisignificative, while it may, and normally will, involve morphological elements, is in itself a functional rather than a morphological distinction. Hence, not surprisingly, the morphological diversity of single linguistic elements (I am thinking of the division of words into nouns and verbs, common and proper names, abstract and concrete terms, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, interjections, and so forth) is subsumed, from a logical point of view, entirely under the represign as such.

This point has broad theoretical significance: it means that the morphological diversity of particular languages, and the differences between languages from a morphological point of view (whether a given language is inflected or not, whether it relies on marked accents or not, whether it has this or that specific phoneme or morpheme, and so forth), is of itself not directly relevant to the formation of dicisigns. The dicisign as such requires only that it combine in a functional unity of assertion at least two formally represignificative elements. The first identifies what is being talked about, and the second adds to that identification a specific point of further information.

There may be, and indeed are, dicisigns which have a formation going beyond this minimum structure, but such higher order formations, as dicisignificative, already presuppose fully formed dicisigns as their minimal parts. In the present context I want to examine precisely this presupposed structure and its requirements. Peirce describes the minimal structure constituting a dicisign thus:

It must, in order to be understood, be considered as containing two parts. Of these, the one, which may be called the Subject, is or represents an Index of a Second existing independently of its being represented, while the other, which may be called the Predicate, is or represents an Icon of a Firstness [or quality of an essence]. Second: These two parts must be represented as connected; and that in such a way that if the Dicisign has any object, it must be an Index of a Secondness subsisting between the Real Object represented in one represented part of the Dicisign to be indicated and a Firstness represented in the other represented part of the Dicisign to be Iconized.(8)

The quotation is less complicated than it seems. It also exhibits a distinctive virtue of Peirce's writings in most areas of philosophy: the achievement of essential advances (inseparable from terminological novelties, as noted above) without betraying the substantial insights and achievements of earlier workers who developed the same problem areas in other times, lands, and manners of emphasis. In particular, the above characterization of the minimal essence of dicisigns is fully consonant with the main strains of presemiotic logical tradition.

This being the case, there is yet a morphological problem of language which needs to be specifically addressed and brought, so to speak, to a specifically logical resolution. The represign as such, in its symbolic content, functions primarily indexically, that is to say, by pointing out or simply identifying, and this is clearly the function of a dicisignificative subject term. For a term to be dicisignificative as a predicate term, however, indexical identification is not enough. The indexical identification consequent on a predicate term's represignification needs, on the contrary, to be somehow applied to and added to or made part of the represignificative identification of the subject term.

This application, indeed, is the heart of the dicisign: it does not leave its virtually represignificative dual elements to stand merely as representing, but it makes them together say something; it makes them speak (dice!) not one about the other but both together about one object as interpreted specifically this way. The object is not simply represented; it is determinately represented. It is represented, that is, along with an assertion determining it to belong to, and actually placing it within, a universe of discourse. The elephant, let us say, is not simply called to mind; it is called to mind by way of an assertion: "The elephant is hungry" or "able to fly" or "able to count" or "fictitious though colored pink," and so forth. As soon as a dicisign is formed, and by the very forming, a verbal element seems to be necessarily introduced into the predicate term in order for that term to attach itself to the subject in the manner of representation required for assertion.

Morphologically Verbal Forms and Predicate Terms. Here we are brought face to face with a morphological problem of language. Since ancient times, linguists have recognized the distinction between nouns and verbs. Indeed, as Stankiewicz has shown in a fascinating survey, they have spent recent centuries wrangling over the priority of the one over the other on grounds that were in fact ideological, though unrecognized as such by the protagonists:

The question of the ranking of the parts of speech, which had been introduced by the Greek and Roman grammarians, was given a new direction and impetus in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe when the relation of the principal parts of speech, the noun and the verb, was explicitly formulated as a genetic, rather than a logical, problem, with the priority being assigned at first to the noun. But the most interesting chapter in the history of our problem opened up at the end of the eighteenth century, when the genetic and functional priority was decided in favor of the verb. The primary factor responsible for this change of attitude was obviously the philosophical swing from realism to idealism.(9)

In particular, Stankiewicz cites the Idea of Progress (or "evolution") as "the main idea that was responsible for the reversal of the chronology of the parts of speech"; for the idea of genesis is an idea of action, which, as Benveniste notes, is one of the two classical ways of dividing verbs from nouns: "The verb indicates a process, the noun an object."(10)

The other classical way of dividing nouns from verbs comes from Aristotle: the verb involves time, and the noun does not. This way of characterizing the difference had its principal effect upon logic, both because Aristotle was the first one to systematize formal logic's central problematic, and because, logically considered, the noun, in its most general character as a nomen or name identifying something, quite clearly is simpler than the verb in its most general character as identifying something acting or the action of something. The verb adds to the nominal representation a movement, and hence a time, a dimension of temporality.

It is easy to see how closely linguistic and logical considerations here come to one another. "As soon as one probes further into the problem," remarks Benveniste, "one is forced to envisage the relationships of the verb and noun as a whole, and then the particular nature of the verb 'to be'."(11) The so-called verb in any form, while still a represign ("runs" does not alone assert, but only represents an action to a native speaker of English), is yet closer to an assertion than a noun, whether abstract ("a man") or concrete ("Terry Prewitt"). Moreover, it is the addition of a verb to a noun that precisely constitutes, normally speaking, an assertion: "Terry Prewitt runs."

In the Aristotelian tradition, and in the mainstream of logical development throughout Latin and early modern times, as indeed throughout classical Latin grammar, this juxtaposition, or rather, accidental coincidence of linguistic and logical concern, led to some actual confusion between the two. A statement or proposition, it was said, requires a verb, stated or implied, as the predicate of the sentence.

But this appears not to be true. There are so-called nominal sentences, that is to say, sentences which consist of a predicate nominative without a verb or copula, and it is insufficient to interpret the predicate nominative in such cases as an implied verb. Amicus amico amicus, to cite a Latin example of the nominal sentence, simply has no verb as such, even though it makes an assertion which would translate into English with a verb: "The friend of my friend is a friend to me also," or some such. This accords with Benveniste's formula: "The nominal sentence consists of a predicate nominative, without a verb or copula; and it is considered the normal expression in Indo-European where a possible verbal form would have been the third person of the present indicative of 'to be'."(12)

Sentences of this type turn out to be widespread, a fact entirely hidden to speakers familiar only with, say, modern European languages, or American English. Benveniste goes so far as to say that the nominal sentence "is indeed so general that in measuring its range statistically or geographically, one could more quickly enumerate the inflected languages that do not have it (like the Western European languages of today) than those in which it appears."(13) He later adds that "as long as this type of utterance was considered a verbal sentence lacking a verb, its specific nature could not be brought out."(14) This specific nature is a "nonvariability of the relationship implied between the linguistic utterance and the nature of things."(15) Benveniste cites as "a very just account of the special value of the nominal sentence"(16) the summary of Sjoestedt-Jonval:

The value of the nominal sentence appears when one contrasts it with the sentence containing a verb of existence. The nominal sentence is a qualitative equation establishing an equivalence (total or partial, depending on the relative extent of the subject and predicate) between two nominal elements.... Thus the predicate of the nominal sentence, even when it is an adjective, has an essential value and expresses an integral part of the being of the subject, while the complement of the verb of existence has only a circumstantial value and expresses a contingent feature (even if permanent) of the manner of being of the subject.(17)

Nominal sentences are thus especially suited to the expression of so-called permanent or timeless, perhaps even eternal, truths, though indeed such conceptions can also be expressed verbally.(18) Many lengthy medieval and Renaissance discussions among logicians of "whether and how a verb can be absolved from time" so as to express timeless truths would have been obviated by a more detailed knowledge of languages such as scientific linguistics has provided. These discussions arose from logicians confusing a logical point with a linguistic one. There is the logical fact that an assertion must always be understood with relation to the present of the one understanding it, whether as asserting something that occurred prior to the present, contemporaneous with it, posterior to it, or all three together. Quite distinct from this logical requirement is the linguistic fact that Greek and Latin express this relation normally through verbal rather nominal forms. Additionally, "even in cases in which there is a verb, it may have no temporal function, and time can be expressed otherwise than by a verb."(19) It follows that "in order to characterize the opposition of the verb and the noun in its own right and regardless of the linguistic type, we cannot use notions like those of object and process or categories like that of time or morphological differences."(20)

We may say, then, that--exactly as the ancients thought--the noun (let us say, rather, the represign in its minimal nominal form) has a logical priority over the verb, in that the verbal represign as verbal requires an added emphasis, shifting the foreground emphasis of the representation from the identificatory indexical dimension to the informational iconic content of the represign as conveying an applicability beyond its bare representation. But it was a mistake on the part of the ancients to think this added verbal element constituted directly an essential difference within the order of the represign as such. Rather, the difference is one that accrues to represigns only through and after (or with an eye to, as we might also say) their use as predicate terms--that is, to fulfill the predicate function within a dicisign.

We must speak rather of the verbal function than of the verbal form. All represigns as such, all "parts of speech" taken precisely in their partial character, signify fundamentally as names; and any name without restriction can be made to function as subject or predicate within an assertion.

Thus the difference between nouns and verbs is not a function of represigns considered within their own order but a function of dicisigns as modifying represigns according to the requirements of assertion. What makes a represign be verbal is its employment as a predicate term in the logical sense. Any represign can be so employed.

Thus the logical priority of names over verbs cannot be translated into a temporal or genetic one, nor can the dynamic quality of verbs be translated into a genetic or temporal priority. That is why any noun can be made into a verb, and any verb can be nominalized: this commutability is an expression of what logical analysis reveals to be their common character as represigns. The verbal function thus must be sharply distinguished from verbal forms. The latter, as specific parts of speech, since they represent without asserting, belong, like all parts of speech, to the order of represigns. The former (which is the cause of verbal forms, in that verbal forms as represignificative exist precisely as traces of having been predicatively employed, or through modifications with an eye to being predicatively employed), belongs strictly speaking to the dicisign in its difference of order from the represign. It is the syntax proper to the dicisign as requiring one of its parts to be predicate that creates the verb functionally considered, and also, subsequently, as morphologically considered. Any represign without exception may be functionally appropriated in this way.(21)

Here the results of logical analysis and the conclusions of scientific linguistics come together without confusion:

The verbal function, as we posit it, remains independent to a certain degree of the verbal form, although the two often coincide. The point is precisely to reestablish this function and this form in their true relationship. Within the assertive utterance, the verbal function is twofold: there is the cohesive function, which is to organize the elements of the utterance into a complete structure; and there is the assertive function, which consists in endowing the utterance with a predicate of reality. The first function need not be otherwise defined. Just as important, though on another plane, is the assertive function. A finite assertion, precisely because it is an assertion, implies the reference of the utterance to a different order, and this is the order of reality. Added implicitly to the grammatical relationship that unites the members of the utterance is a 'this is!' that links the linguistic arrangement to the system of reality. The content of the utterance is given as consistent with the nature of things. Thus the syntactic structure of the finite assertion helps to distinguish two planes: the plane of grammatical cohesion, on which the verb serves as the cohering element, and the plane of the assertion of reality, from which the verb receives its functions as the assertive element. In a finite assertive utterance the verb possesses this double capacity.(22)

The function of the dicisign is to assert. In order to achieve this level of discursive organization, the dicisign must subsume to its own order two otherwise merely represignificative factors which thus subsumed are made to cohere, the one as identifying what is being talked about (the subject) and the other as informing that subject iconically so that it is not merely seen for what it is but seen to exist in a certain way. This "link to the system of reality" is what has been called in logic the "supposition" of the dicisign, for it attaches to terms only in and through their subsumption as dicisignificative parts. Of course, the "system of reality" is not the realm of mind-independent being as such, but rather the Umwelt and universe of discourse within which the assertion is made.(23)

Confusion Over the Role of a Copula in the Representation of Minimal Dicisigns. In this light we can address a confusion of logical and linguistic points in Western tradition closely related to the confusion of morphologically verbal forms with predicate terms: the role of the so-called verb "to be" in the reduction of minimal dicisigns to the standard logical form of "Subject > copula < Predicate." What needs to recognized is that the "verb" used in this capacity is, in fact, not the verb "to be," appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. To see what is involved here, it is necessary to untangle a number of distinct functions which intersect within the minimal dicisign (in the making of an assertion) at precisely the point where one represignificative element is applied to another as predicate to subject.

A distinct use of a linguistic element such as "is" to signify predication is by no means found in all languages. Benveniste remarks the following:

In a number of languages at different periods of history, the junctive function, usually established by a pause between the terms, as in Russian, has tended to be realized in a positive sign, in a morpheme. But this is not the sole and necessary solution. Several other processes have been employed; the creation or adaptation of a [distinct] verbal form is only one of these processes.(24)

What needs to be remarked is that in every language there is predication, that is to say, there is the minimal formation of dicisigns necessary to convey an assertion. In addition, every predication, inasmuch as it employs a represignificative element, always admits of the possibility of being distinguished into two parts: a predicate term nominally taken, and the predicative function as such separately signified in its own right. This possibility is a linguistic inevitability, for it is a necessary consequence of the formation of an assertion. What is not a linguistic inevitability is the actual making of the distinction by some user of a given language. Only when the distinction comes actually to be made do we have the grammatical and syntactical notion of "to be" as copula.

Completely different from this grammatical and syntactical notion of "to be" as copula is the lexical and morphological notion of "to be" as having (especially mind-independent) existence. Benveniste says,

"To be" actually does have a lexical notion whose verbal expression is just as authentic and just as ancient as that of any other verb, and it can exercise its full functions without ever encroaching upon the function of the "copula." . . . In Indo-European, this lexeme is represented by *es-, which it would be best to avoid translating as "to be" in order not to perpetuate the confusion we are attempting to avoid. The sense is "to have existence, to occur in reality," and this "existence" and this "reality" are defined as what is authentic, consistent, and true.(25)

Benveniste concludes that, from a linguistic point of view, "it is necessary to set up two distinct terms that are confused in speaking of 'to be': one is the 'copula', the grammatical mark of equivalence; the other, a full-fledged verb."(26)

Here we need to note yet one further difference which Benveniste himself glosses over without seeming to notice, namely, the difference between what he here calls "the grammatical mark of equivalence," and what he ten years earlier called "the cohesive function,"(27) which belongs to the verbal function as such. Benveniste conflates the two, but they are not the same. Strictly speaking, therefore, we need to distinguish three distinct terms in speaking of "to be." One is the copula as performing the cohesive function: "John is running," where no bi-equivalence of subject and predicate is implied. Another is the copula as a grammatical mark of equivalence: "A plane triangle is the figure enclosed by three straight lines intersecting at three distinct points," as occurs in definitions, for example, or in any assertion where subject and predicate are taken to be strictly coextensive. A third is the verb "to be" as a lexical item (a "categorematic term") in its own right with its proper significate, "God is." The first two senses of "to be" are, logically speaking, syncategorematic; that is, they presuppose other represigns to complete their signification in any given case. Only the last sense of "to be" is categorematic, that is, has a nominally complete signification in its own right. This complex of linguistic functions can be represented schematically (Figure 1).

Thus not two but three distinct terms have materially merged in many languages. All three of these distinct uses are casually subsumed in the informal notion of the English (and Indo-European) verb "to be." The merger is material, not formal, since formally it is a question of three distinct types of performance within an assertion: there is the function of explicitating the grammatical cohesion of two represigns within the assertion (the copula); there is the adding to this notion of cohesion the further notion of equivalence or convertibility between the represigns joined in the assertion; and, quite distinct from these signalling functions, there is the verb "to be" as a distinct categorematic represignificative element or categorematic name in its own right. This verbal form does not pertain to the verbal function within the dicisign as such (in contrast with the two prior syncategorematic linguistic elements), but rather adds to the language a represignificative element objectifying existence itself as something signified (existentia ut significata), often intending the so-called "real" existence of a physical or mind-independent being (existentia ut exercita). In speaking of Subject > copula < Predicate as the "standard logical form" to which minimal dicisigns are best reduced for purposes of clarity, we see now that the formula is anything but clear; for of the three distinct senses of "to be," which one, if any, or which combination of them, is intended, in the logical formula, under the rubric "copula"?

As far as I am aware, this question has never been clearly stated or squarely faced in the logical literature. The contemporary preference for abandoning the classical notion of standard logical form for minimal dicisigns in favor of quantificational formulae can in part be traced to this analytical failure. At the same time, where it is a question of the function of logical forms within natural language, the traditional formula has decisive advantages over quantificational formulae, inasmuch as these formulae, we now realize, in fact generally fail to translate the actual sense of assertions within natural language.(28)

The Need for Explicitly Specifying a Copula in the Logical Role. From a logical point of view, the traditional formula for expressing a minimal dicisign (S>c<P) can be brought into its own as a logical counterpart-schema for assertion in natural languages only if we introduce a fourth distinction. Let us call it the "logical copula," as distinct both from the grammatical copula, whether taken cohesively or equivalatingly, and from the verb "to be," although these are all materially identical (that is, as a character string, or in certain contexts of usage).

The logical copula as a specific notion is designed explicitly to signify precisely and only "the verbal function," as Benveniste terms it, of coherent assertion. This function, as we have seen, even in the absence of all verbal forms (as in the nominal sentence), is two-fold. The verbal function is the channeling or conveying of the supposition of the determinate order of reality--the type of existence--according to which an assertion is made, and the coherent joining of the fundamental elements of the assertion (the predicate and the subject) in accordance with that supposition. To say that the logical copula is designed "precisely" to perform this biaspectual function is to say that, as a distinct element of symbolic representation within the dicisign, the logical copula is designed to separate or detach the verbal function as such in its inherently twofold character from the predicate element as represignificative, and, in doing that, to signal the fact of an assertion being made of the subject represignificative element via the predicate represignificative element as joined thereto.

In other words, in speaking of a logical copula as such, confusion is inevitable unless we realize that we are perforce specifying a technical linguistic item in its own right. This specification has generally not been made as an explicit part of logical discussions heretofore. The logical copula strictly so called is a syntactical form of "to be" used in a scientifically specific, twofold manner: to signal an assertion, as Peirce put it,(29) and, therefore, at the same time--in order to achieve the assertion as something accomplished--to posit the dicisignificative union of two terms as, respectively, predicate and subject, iconic and indexical dimensions, within the symbolic structure of that assertion.(30)

As signaling an assertion, the logical copula conveys and channels the supposition of the assertion according to the universe of discourse and experience within which the assertion is made. The logical copula signals a definite channel along which is to be construed the implication of reference of the symbolic structure as sign-vehicle to the content signified of whatever order, linguistic or nonlinguistic, depending on the assertion.

As positing a dicisignificative union of two represigns, the logical copula not only signifies the coherence of subject and predicate in a grammatical sense within the unity of the dicisign, but signifies their coherence in relation to the object identified by the subject of the dicisign signified as existing in the way that the predicate of the dicisign informs us that it exists. The comprehension of the predicate term enters into and informs the comprehension of the subject term within the proposition, as traditional logic always held.

Thus the logical copula as such is not a lexical notion or morpheme in its own right (it is not a categorematic term), but functions only in relation to the predicate it copulates to the subject within the dicisign. "It always signifies existence," as Poinsot said.(31) But the existence signified by the logical copula is not the metaphysical existence exercised by things independently of finite consciousness--unless, of course, that is precisely either the predicated notion within the assertion, or the supposition of the dicisign, which need not be the case.

Thus the lexical notion and the copulative notion of "to be" sometimes come together in the logical copula as such. But, as such, the logical copula always signifies the performance of two tasks: the grammatical copulative function, and (or combined with) the assertive function, which is normally broader than the categorematic and lexical notion of "to be"--especially in its metaphysical sense of "exercising real existence," which is distinctively Greek and Latin and, in a word, Western. The "metaphysical verb," as Monboddo considered the verb "to be" to be,(32) is indeed a philosophical notion, as especially Thomists today are wont to emphasize. But that metaphysical verb is a specifically philosophical creation, which logic may be used to defend or dispute, but to which logic as logic can never be tied outside the specific context of a metaphysical assertion logically evaluated. Similarly, this metaphysical verb is at best a cousin of the lexical notion of "to be" in natural language; it has little or no relation to the copulative notion of "to be" which is present as a function but morphologically absent in the nominal sentence.

Furthermore, even apart from the equivalating sense of "to be," none of these three--the simple grammatical copula, the verb "to be" as a lexical item or morpheme within various natural languages, or the verb esse as a metaphysical representation--is identical with the logical copula as such. The grammatical copula in its minimal copulative sense (not in its further equivalating sense) is but a part of the logical copula. This logical copula signifies something (to wit, a function) with which the lexical and/or the metaphysical notion may or may not happen to coincide, depending on the context of a given assertion--its supposition, according to which a given decisign belongs to a universe of discourse within which it must pretend as such to bear some truth, but at the risk of eventually exposing itself to be instead a false witness.

The verbal function, as distinct from the verbal form, exists only within the dicisign as its--the dicisign's--form. As the form of the dicisign, the verbal function exists as a linguistic inevitability which is only sometimes expressed in the difference between predicate term as verb and subject term as noun, namely, in those cases where the verbal function is not morphologically separated from the predicate term as represignificative or symbolically represented in its own right. Such a separate representation for the verbal function as form of the dicisign is achieved partially whenever a copula is used in joining the parts of an assertion to signify (as we saw above) "the cohesive function, which is to organize the elements of the utterance into a complete structure." To make the representation of the verbal function as such complete, however, we need to add a convention which stipulates that, besides this cohesive function, the assertive function which "implies the reference of the utterance to a different order" is also conveyed in the use of the copula. This function, in Benveniste's words, "added implicitly to the grammatical relationship that unites the members of the utterance" whenever a finite assertion is made,(33) is indeed, from the point of view of logic, on a distinct plane from the grammatical; but it is hardly something "added." The function in question, rather, is the function principally constitutive of the dicisign as a distinct logical type of symbolization, to wit, the type of symbolization adjudicable as true or false. The single verbal function logically considered is inherently twofold, or biaspectual.

Hence, from the point of view of logic, to treat the assertive aspect of the function as something implied along with the grammatical copula is not merely insufficient, but incorrect. Presupposition is different from implication, and the assertive function is, from the linguistic point of view, presupposed by and for any use of any represignificative element as predicate (and a fortiori by any verb used predicatively, since it is the predicative use of a represignificative element that, under the influence of the verbal function, gives rise to verbal forms to begin with). It follows that if, for reasons of clarity of representation of the necessary minimal structure of the dicisign (S>c<P), we wish to give the constitutive syntax or form of assertion (in its contrast with the roles of subject and predicate terms which the form of assertion governs) its own distinctive representation within the minimal dicisign, then we must make clear that the verbal function, inasmuch as it is distinct from the verbal form, needs not only to be signified by a logical component which separates the predicate term as such from the verb, as does the grammatical copula, but also to be signified as constituting an assertion. Both planes are essential to the verbal function: the plane of grammatical cohesion and the plane of reference to a content signified as obtaining in this or that way (that is, as signified adjudicably, and not simply--represented in a way susceptible of judgement as true or false, not simply represented). Hence a distinct symbol instituted to represent this function requires a twofold representation.

In identifying the character string "to be" with the verbal function, in contrast to any verbal form (including the "is" signifying the representation of existence exercised), we are, then, identifying it not merely with the grammatical copula but also, and more fundamentally, with "the reference of the utterance to a different order," a content signified. The plane of grammatical cohesion and the plane of finite assertion must intersect in order for there to be a dicisign, a grammatically correct statement of the sort that logic can treat. Indeed, we may say that if the grammatical copula signifies primarily that part of the total verbal function which imparts grammatical cohesion to a string of symbols and only secondarily implies "assertion of reality," the logical copula primarily signifies rather the verbal function as such in its totality. The logical copula hence primarily conveys the supposition of some kind of existence, namely, the kind clarified and conveyed by the grammatically cohering unit according to the context which the assertion needs in order to be understood. Not only are the priorities of primary and secondary signification reversed in the logical copula, but both priorities are explicitly constitutive of the logical copula's sense. Neither the plane of assertion nor the plane of cohesion is implicit in the logical copula. Both are explicit, for what the logical copula as such signifies is the intersection of these two planes in the exercise of the verbal function as constituting a dicisign in its minimal formation.

In the Latins' treatment of logic, long discussions were devoted to the "supposition of terms" within the proposition. By treating of supposition as a property of terms, the discussion was already off on something of a wrong foot;(34) for in fact, supposition is not a property of terms as such, that is to say, as represignificative elements of language. Supposition is, rather, a property first of all of the dicisign as such, through and according to which it affects or attaches to represignificative linguistic elements only as and insofar as they are subsumed within the dicisign in the role of subject or predicate term. Logic deals with symbolic expressions of assertion, and symbolic expressions of this sort impart to their terms a determinate supposition on the basis of which the assertions comprised from the terms become adjudicable as true or false only insofar as the expressions constitute or implicate assertions.

We see then that the verbal form "to be" is something quite distinct from the verbal function, as the contingent differs from the necessary. The verb "to be" as a morpheme in any particular language is far from a linguistic inevitability, although the possibility of its establishment is present in every language, thanks to the difference between represigns as such and dicisigns as such. The verbal function as such belongs only to the dicisign, being the form of assertion constitutive of dicisignification in what is peculiar to it. This function is exercised when the plane of assertion and the plane of grammatical cohesion intersect in the constitution of a symbolic structure, and the logical copula is designed to signify this function of intersection. Hence the copula, logically speaking, signifies the twofold function of relating two represigns (simple or compelx) as predicate and subject terms within an assertion and supposing some kind of existence relative to the unity of the dicisign.

The verbal function is a linguistic inevitability. It goes with assertion as such. The logical copula, distinct from all other verbal forms expressed by variations on the materially same character string "to be," is a convenient symbol for this function in its distinctness and in its integrity as constituting the bidimensional form regulative of the dicisign in its difference both from the represigns respecting which it is superordinate and from the suadisigns respecting which it is subordinate. The logical copula, in short, is a convenient contingent expression of (an "arbitrary sign for," in Saussurean terms) a linguistic and logical necessity: the verbal function constitutive of the dicisign in its twofold character as coherently expressing a content signified in an adjudicable manner. Peirce's analysis on this point can now be seen to be somewhat simplified, but it provides even so a convenient summary of the situation as far as the traditional notion of a "standard logical form" for minimal dicisigns is concerned:

The proposition should have an actual Syntax, which is represented to be the Index of those elements of the fact represented that correspond to the Subject and the Predicate. This is apparent in all propositions. Since Abelard it has been usual to make this Syntax a third part of the proposition, under the name of the Copula. The historical cause of the emergence of this conception of the twelfth century was, of course, that the Latin of that day did not permit the omission of the verb est, which was familiarly, though not unvariably, omitted in Greek, and not very uncommonly in classical Latin. In most languages there is no such verb. But it is plain that one does not escape the need of a Syntax by regarding the Copula as a third part of the proposition; and it is simpler to say that it is merely the accidental form that Syntax may take.(35)

Like all linguistic forms in their character as symbolic, then, the logical copula is an accidental form, not a linguistic inevitability. As a logical convention, however, it is adopted for the purpose of signifying not something contingent and accidental, but something necessary; in this case, it signifies the verbal function constitutive of the dicisign superordinate to morphological distinctions of whatever type within the order of represignification. If we add this new--or, more exactly, this now fully developed, explicit--convention to our scheme of "to be" as a verbal form, we get a third syncategorematic sense (Figure 2).

The supplement of the copula, in the context of the specifically logical analysis of dicisigns according to their implications within and for their context of discourse, is to make clear and explicit that something is asserted and something supposed whenever a claim to truth is made, in order to facilitate the adjudication of whatever is adjudicable in the discourse.


Recasting consideration of the parts of speech in light of the above, we would have to say that, logically considered, the opposition of nouns and verbs as lexical forms is by no means a fundamental division of the order of represigns as such, but one derivative from the context of assertions. Of the two, the noun as name is logically prior, with all other parts of speech posterior to both. The reason is that verbs exist as soon as and only as an assertion is made, as virtually distinct from names. In logic, this distinction can and ought best to be absorbed to its proper level, which is that of the dicisign, and set out in the distinct sign of the logical copula, thereby reducing the subject and predicate terms as such to their common represignificative denominator.

If it be true that assertion is the fundamental linguistic act, then it must also be true that von Humboldt was right in holding that language was given all at once, in toto.(36) This is a consequence of the dialectical nature of the dicisign which carries assertion, and through which assertion (and with it the derivative contrast of verbs and other parts of speech to names as nouns) comes into the world of symbolic forms. Names and verbs exist as two only in their opposition. This opposition is a consequence of the fact well summarized by Sapir: "It is well to remember that speech consists of . . . propositions. There must be something to talk about and something must be said about the subject of discourse once it is selected."(37) As a result,

No language wholly fails to distinguish the noun and verb, though in particular cases the nature of the distinction may be an elusive one. It is different with other parts of speech. Not one of them is imperatively required for the life of the language.(38)

All these considerations leave Peirce alone in yet one other respect. Of all the thinkers who argued the priority of nouns over verbs or verbs over nouns, he was but a man of his era in arguing for the priority of the verb, and especially the metaphysical verb in an old Egyptian incarnation.(39) In all this he was one among many. But in his extraordinary argument that pronouns are prior to nouns, at least, he seems both to have something of truth and to stand alone, although the reasons comprising this argument concern psychology and epistemology rather than logical theory as such.

From the point of view of logical theory, we can now answer Benveniste's question: "How does it happen that the verb of existence, out of all the other verbs, has this privilege of being present in an utterance in which it does not appear?"(40) The answer is that it does not, unless by "verb of existence" is meant the logical copula as a virtual form in the sense actually stipulated in the pages of this essay.

(1) Cf. W. V. O. Quine, Elementary Logic, rev. ed. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980), 5-6. The term "proposition" does not appear in the index to this work.

(2) Domingo de Soto, Summulae 1st ed. (Burgos, 1529). A facsimile of the third revised edition (Salamanca, 1554) is published as Dominicus Soto Summulae (Hildesheim, N.Y.: Georg Olms Verlag, 1980).

(3) John Poinsot, Tractatus de signis: The Semiotic of John Poinsot, translated and presented in bilingual format by John Deely in consultation with Ralph A. Powell, 1st ed. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985). This first independent edition of Poinsot's treatise on signs has been extracted from Poinsot's Ars logica, as reprinted in Joannes a Sancto Thoma, Cursus philosophicus thomisticus, ed. Beato Reiser, vol. 1 (Turin: Marietti, 1930), 1-247, 249-839.

(4) Miguel Comas del Brugar, Quaestiones minoris dialecticae (Barcelona: Antonius Lacavalleria, 1661). This is available at the Lilly Library of Indiana University, Bloomington, and on microfilm at the Loras College Library, Dubuque, Iowa.

(5) For discussion of the trichotomous division of symbols as prelinguistic, linguistic, and postlinguistic, see John Deely, "The Nonverbal Inlay in Linguistic Communication," in The Signifying Animal, ed. Irmengard Rauch and Gerald F. Carr (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980), 201-17; and John Deely, Introducing Semiotic (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982), pt. 2.

(6) Emile Benveniste, in his "The Nominal Sentence," in Problems in General Linguistics, trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek (Coral Gables, Fl.: University of Miami Press, 1974), 134-5, makes the following remarks, which are extremely illuminating on this point in view of our discussion to follow: "It is necessary to distinguish here between the dimension of forms and their nature. A minimum assertive utterance can have the same dimension as a minimum syntactic element, but that minimum syntactic element is not specified in advance as to its nature. In Latin, the assertive utterance dixi can be considered as minimum. On the other hand, dixi is a minimum syntactic element, in the sense that there can be no smaller syntactic unit in a syntagm containing dixi. As a result of this the minimum utterance dixi is identical to the minimum syntactic element dixi. Now in Latin, the assertion dixi, which is equidimensional with the syntactic unit dixi, is found at the same time to coincide with the verbal form dixi. But for the construction of an assertive utterance with only one term, it is not necessary that this term coincide with a form of a verbal nature, as in the example cited. In other languages it could coincide with a nominal form.

"First of all, let us develop this point specifically. In Ilocano (Philippines), there is the adjective mabisin 'hungry'. It so happens that an assertive utterance in the first two persons can consist of a nominal form with a pronominal affix: ari'-ak 'king-I' (= I am king); mabisin-ak 'hungry-I' (= I am hungry). Now, in the third person, which has a zero pronominal sign, this same utterance will be expressed: mabisin 'he is hungry'. Here we have the minimal assertion, mabisin 'he is hungry', no longer identical to a verbal form but to a nominal form, the adjective mabisin 'hungry'. Similarly, in Tbatulabal, the nominal form ta * twal 'the man' is capable of functioning as an assertive utterance in an opposition in which only the indication of person varies: ta-twal-gi 'the man-I' (= I am the man), ta-twal 'the man [-he]' (= he is the man). Or with a nominal form including a past suffix: tikapiganan-gi 'eater past-I' (= I am the one who ate); tikapigan n 'eater past [-he]' (= he is the one who ate). Here also the minimum assertive utterance coincides with a syntactic element that, from the morphological point of view, is of the noun class. A form characterized morphologically as nominal assumes a syntactically verbal function.

"This leads us to the heart of the problem of the nominal sentence."

(7) Umberto Eco et al., "Latratus Canis, or: The Dog's Barking," in Frontiers in Semiotics, ed. John Deely, Brooke Williams, and Felicia E. Kruse (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), 63-73.

(8) Charles Sanders Peirce, "Syllabus," in The Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vol. 1-6, ed. Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1931-35), vol. 2, para. 312; vol. 7-8, ed. Arthur W. Burks (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958). Hereafter this collection will be cited as "CP," followed by the volume and paragraph number.

(9) Edward Stankiewicz, "The Dithyramb to the Verb in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Linguistics," in Studies in the History of Linguistics, Traditions and Paradigms, ed. Del Hymes (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1974), 157.

(10) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 132.

(11) Ibid.

(12) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 131. In a note Benveniste emphasizes the point, citing the work of Louis Hjelmslev, which veers in the traditional direction set by Aristotle's early discussions: "Hjelmslev maintains that there is a difference only of emphasis or stress between the nominal sentence omnia praeclara rara and a verbal sentence such as omnia praeclara sunt rara. We, on the contrary, have attempted to establish that these are two types with distinct functions. As a consequence, there is no possible commutation from one to the other, and it is not legitimate to seek an implicit expression of tense, mood, and aspect in a nominal utterance which is by nature nontemporal, nonmodal, and nonaspectual" (p. 303, n. 13). Cf. Louis Hjelmslev, "Le verbe et la phrase nominale," in Melanges de Philologie, de Litterature et d'Histoire Anciennes offerts a J. Marouzeau par ses collegues et eleves etrangers (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1948), 253-81, esp. p. 265.

From the point of view of logic, a nominal sentence verbally restated or translated into another language using a verb, if done correctly, conveys the same proposition. The verbal and nominal forms can be equivalent from the standpoint of their logical content. From the standpoint of linguistics, however, such logical equivalation would obscure the issue. Indeed, as we have seen, it has: "If one wishes to dissipate the obscurities that have accumulated around the problem, it is important to separate the study of the nominal sentence from that of the sentence with the verb 'to be'. They are two distinct expressions that come together in certain languages, but not everywhere and not necessarily. A sentence with the verb 'to be' is a verbal sentence, similar to all verbal sentences. It cannot, without risking contradiction, be taken as a variety of the nominal sentence"; Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 135. (Cf. Thomas A. Sebeok, "The Equational Sentence in Hungarian," Language 19 [1943], 320-7.) "An utterance," Benveniste concludes, "is either nominal or verbal"; a proposition is neither (p. 135). Nothing could more clearly make the point that those philosophers who think that propositions and sentences are equivalent are objectively mistaken.

(13) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 131.

(14) Ibid., 143.

(15) Ibid.

(16) Ibid.

(17) Marie Louise Sjoestedt-Jonval, Description d'un parler irlandais du Kerry (Paris: F. Champion, 1938), p. 116, sec. 154.

(18) Thus Benveniste notes that "even in a modern language in which the nominal sentence has been supplanted by the verbal sentence, a differentiation is sometimes introduced into the very expression of the verb 'to be'. This is the case in Spanish with its classical distinction between ser and estar. It is doubtless not by chance that the distinction between ser, to be essentially, and estar, to be existentially or circumstantially, coincides to a great extent with the distinction we have suggested between the nominal sentence and the verbal sentence at an earlier stage. Even if there is no historical continuity between the two expressions, we can see in this phenomenon in Spanish the renewed manifestation of a feature that has deeply marked Indo-European syntax. The concurrent use of two types of assertion, in different forms, constitutes one of the most instructive solutions to a problem that arises in many languages and sometimes at several points in their evolution"; Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 144. These same remarks apply to the verb "to be" in Portuguese.

(19) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 133.

(20) Ibid.

(21) Here, as Benveniste says, it is important to stress that what we are looking at is "the essential syntactic function of the verb, not its material form [its morphological manifestations in the order of represigns, let us say]. The function of the verb is firmly fixed, no matter what the morphological characteristics of the verbal form may be. For example, the fact that in Hungarian the form of the objective conjugation, varo-m 'I expect him', coincides with the nominal possessive form, karo-m 'my arm', and kere-d 'you pray him' with vere-d 'your blood', is a feature remarkable in itself, but the similarity of the objective verbal form and the nominal possessive form should not obscure the fact that only varom and kered can construct finite assertions, and not karom or vered, and that this is enough to distinguish forms that are verbal from those which are not. Furthermore, it is not necessary that an idiom make use of a verb that is morphologically differentiated in order for this verbal function to be accomplished, since every language, no matter what its structure, is capable of producing finite assertions. It follows that the morphological distinction between the noun and the verb is secondary in comparison with the syntactic distinction. In the hierarchy of functions, the primary fact is that only certain forms are suited for establishing finite assertions. It can happen, and it happens frequently, that these forms are further characterized by morphological indices. The distinction between verb and noun accordingly emerges on the formal plane, and the verbal form becomes susceptible of a strictly morphological definition. This is the situation in languages in which the verb and noun have different structures, and in which the verbal function as we understand it has a verbal form to support it. But this function does not need a specifically verbal form to be manifested in the utterance"; Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 134.

(22) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 133.

(23) See John Deely, Basics of Semiotics (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), chap. 5, esp. pp. 50-71.

(24) Emile Benveniste, "The Linguistic Functions of 'To Be' and 'To Have'," in Problems in General Linguistics, 164.

(25) Benveniste, "The Linguistic Functions of 'To Be'," 164.

(26) Ibid., 163.

(27) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 133.

(28) See, for example, Benson Mates, Elementary Logic, 2d ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1972). Regarding the "problems involved in 'symbolizing' English sentences by means of the artificial language," Mates observes, "although to some extent we can translate natural-language sentences into our formal notation there is frequently a serious amount of slippage in the process. Not only is it possible for a translated argument to be formally unsound while the original is intuitively sound, but also there are cases in which the translated version is formally sound while the original is intuitively unsound. The price of drawing explicit attention to this fact is, I suppose, loss of the gratifying and perhaps pedagogically useful impression that logicians possess an esoteric apparatus for testing the soundness of arguments framed in the natural language" (pp. vi-vii). The problem is not that there are no logical means for testing the soundness of arguments framed in natural language, but that the logical tradition in modern times has tended to develop a mainstream of concerns that is not up to the task. A logical system that looks to the means of determining soundness precisely in the context of actual natural language discourse, however, was precisely the objective of the Latin tradition and of Aristotle's Organon. Nothing prevents us from taking up this task again as the foundational task of logical research, as I have tried to outline elsewhere. See John Deely, "Logic within Semiotics," in Symbolicity, festschrift in honor of the 70th birthday of Thomas A. Sebeok, ed. Jeff Bernard et al. (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1992), 77-86; a monograph of the same title, Logic Within Semiotics, is forthcoming from Indiana University Press.

(29) "N ither the predicate, nor the subjects, nor both together, can make an assertion. The assertion represents a compulsion which experience, meaning the course of life, brings upon the deliverer to attach the predicate to the subjects in a particular way. . . . The deliverer thus requires a kind of sign which shall signify a law that to objects of indices an icon appertains as a sign of them in a given way. Such a sign has been called a symbol. It is the copula of assertion"; Charles Sanders Peirce, "The Regenerated Logic," in CP 3.435. Cf. Charles Sanders Peirce, "The Critic of Arguments II. The Reader is Introduced to Relatives," in CP 3.415-24, esp. para. 420, where the copula is called the "signal of assertion."

(30) "The functional structure of the verbal form in the assertive utterance," Benveniste writes, "comprises two elements, one explicit and variable, the other implicit and invariable. The variable is the verbal form as a material datum: variable in the semantic expression, variable in the number and nature of the modalities it conveys--time, person, aspect, etc. This variable is the seat of an invariable inherent in the assertive utterance: the statement of correspondence between the grammatical assertion and the fact asserted. It is the union of a variable and an invariable that establishes the verbal form in its function as the declarative form of a finite utterance"; Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 134.

(31) "Et ipsum verbum 'est', sive sit de secundo adiacente, ut quando dico: 'Petrus est', sive de tertio adiacente, ut cum dico: 'Petrus est albus', addendo tertiam vocem ut praedicatum, semper significat idem, scilicet, esse, quia ut dicit S. Thomas 1. Periherm. lect. 5. in fine, ista actualitas est communiter omnis formae, sive substantialis sive accidentalis, et inde est, quod quando volumus significare quamcumque formam inesse alicui, significamus per verbum 'est', unde ex consequenti significat compositionem. Ita D. Thomas"; Poinsot, Ars logica 15b35-16a5.

(32) See James B. Monboddo, Of the Origin and Progress of Language, vol. 1, 2d ed. (Edinburgh: J. Balfour, 1774). (An abridged German edition of volumes 1-3, with an introduction by Johann Gottfried Herder and translation by E. A. Schmid, appeared in 1784 [Riga: J. F. Hartknoch].)

(25) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 133.

(34) "Suppositio definitur, quod est 'acceptio termini pro aliquo, de quo verificatur'. Multi ex recentioribus hanc definitionem non admittunt existimantes, quod suppositio solum est acceptio nominis pro re, quam significat, nec distinguunt suppositionem a significatione seu exercitio significationis, qua vox substituitur in significando loco rei. Unde illud antiquum et acceptatum principium, quod aliquae propositiones sunt de subiecto non supponente, et ideo, si sint affirmativae, falsae sunt, ab ipsis reicitur, quia omne nomen, sive intra sive extra propositionem, supponit, hoc ipso quod substituitur pro aliquo apud intellectum"; Poinsot, Ars logica, 29a10-27.

(35) Pe rce, "Syllabus," in CP 2.319.

(36) Wilhelm von Humboldt, Ber die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren Einfluss auf die geistige Entwickelung des Menschengeschlechts, Gesammelte Werke 4 (Berlin: G. Reimer, 1843), 62.

(37) Edward Sapir, Language (New York: Harcourt Brace and Co., 1921), 126.

(38) Ibid.

(39) See Charles Sanders Peirce, Grand Logic, in CP 4.49; and Charles Sanders Peirce, "That Categorical and Hypothetical Propositions Are One in Essence," in CP 2.354.

(40) Benveniste, "The Nominal Sentence," 131-2.
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Author:Deely, John
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Date:Dec 1, 1992
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