[hist-analytic] Minimalism and Expletive Deletion

Baynesr at comcast.net Baynesr at comcast.net
Sun Oct 17 13:12:21 EDT 2010

Consider two sentences: 

1. 'Snow is white' is true 
2. It is true that snow is white 

In my idiolect (3) is degraded: 

3. That snow is white is true 

But (1) is not. Why? I suspect there is redundancy between 'that' and 'true'. Now let's suppose we have a rule allowing (perhaps at some level of interpretation a required rule) us to move from (4) to (5). 

4. There is a man in the room 
5. A man is in the room 

'a man' may "move" to receive case. I won't go into all of this. (vide N. Chomsky _Knowledge of Language and It's use_. Praeger 1986, pp. 93-97). 

I take it that the move from (2) to (1) is syntactic - there is a minor qualification I hope to discuss, briefly. Now take (6). 

6. 'Snow is white' is true iff snow is white. 

>From (1) and (6) I can get (7). 

7. Snow is white. 

In going from (2) to (1), I make use of "expletive elimination" as 'it' in (2) is expletive. I get (3) which I said is degraded. However, the cause of this degradation (redundancy) goes away if we make a semantic ascent from (3) to (1). So we have semantic ascent combined with expletive deletion. Talk of propositions is now bypassed. I assume that no, purely syntactic transformation involves introducing new referential elements. Note that this hold of expletive deletion. Semantic ascent, actually, eliminates a referential component. So we have two rules that are eliminative, but only one involves reference. Here is a proposal: 

Sentences like (6) are not semantically basic. They are derived from sentences of the form (2). But if so, then in (2) since 'true' is not predicated of a referential term, and since syntactic transformation does not affect reference, it cannot be said that 'true' modifies 'Snow is white' in (6).Even though there is semantic ascent, 'true's "semantics" is unaffected. It is not a property because it is predicated of a nonreferring term. This argues for minimalism. I would qualify my minimalism, another time. 'True' belongs with belief, not sentences, fundamentally. 

Steve Bayne 

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