Three aspects of indeterminacy arise, thesis means which two relate to indeterminacy of translation.
Indeterminacy of reference refers to the interpretation of words or phrases in isolation, and Quine’s thesis is that no unique interpretation is possible, because a ‘radical interpreter’ has no way of telling which of many possible meanings the speaker has in mind. Quine uses the example of the word «gavagai» uttered by a native speaker of the unknown language Arunta upon seeing a rabbit. A speaker of English could do what seems natural and translate this as «Lo, a rabbit. Thus, translating some native utterance as, say, «Pelicans are our half-brothers» is a much more contextual affair.
His claim is not that successful translation is impossible, but that it is multiply possible. These thesis means about the need for context brings up the next topic, holophrastic indeterminacy. The second kind of indeterminacy, which Quine sometimes refers to as holophrastic indeterminacy, is another matter. Here the claim is that there is more than one correct method of translating sentences where the two translations differ not merely in the meanings attributed to the sub-sentential parts of speech but also in the net import of the whole sentence. It is confusing that Quine’s choice of meaning for ‘holophrastic’, contrasting it with sub-sentential phrases, appears to run counter to its accepted meaning in linguistics, «expressing a complex of ideas in a single word or in a fixed phrase».
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Quine considers the methods available to a field linguist attempting to translate a hitherto unknown language he calls Arunta. He suggests that there are always different ways one might break a sentence into words, and different ways to distribute functions among words. Indeterminacy of translation also applies to the interpretation of speakers of one’s own language, and even to one’s past utterances. In Quine’s view, the indeterminacy of translation leads to the inability to separate analytic statements whose validity lies in the usage of language from synthetic statements, those that assert facts about the world. The argument hinges on the role of synonymy in analytic statements, «A natural suggestion, deserving close examination, is that the synonymy of two linguistic forms consists simply in their interchangeability in all contexts without change of truth value». Chapter 16: The indeterminacy of translation».
A Companion to the Philosophy of Language. Chapter 9: The refutation of conventionalism». Volume 2: Mind, Language and Reality. Confessions of a Confirmed Extensionalist: And Other Essays. A lecture «Three Indeterminacies,» presented at the Quine symposium at Washington University in April 1988.
Indeterminacy of Translation and Under-Determination of the Theory of Nature. Translation, physics, and facts of the matter. Open Court: La Salle, 1986, pp. For the ball game, see four square. Foursquare City Guide, commonly known as Foursquare, is a local search-and-discovery mobile app which provides search results for its users. The app provides personalized recommendations of places to go near a user’s current location based on users’ previous browsing history and check-in history.
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