[plt-scheme] Re: [PRL] Denotation: barbarous neologism required

From: Jesse Tov (tov at ccs.neu.edu)
Date: Thu Nov 12 20:04:23 EST 2009

[Assuming you had that last bit backward as Peter points out . . .]

These usages seem to follow from the standard English definitions of the 
words "denotation" and "representation".  In particular, "representation 
of X" means "thing that stands for X", whereas "denotation of X" means 
"thing that X stands for".

This only seems odd if you expect the suffix "-ation" to have some 
meaning that composes with stem to which it is attached.  Morphology 
isn't always that, um, denotational.


On 11/12/09 6:21 PM, John Clements wrote:
> Suppose A represents B.  Do we say that A is the representation of B or
> that B is the representation of A?
> Concrete example: let the table represent the street, and my hand
> represent the car. Do we say that my hand is the representation of the
> car, or that the car is the representation of my hand?
> I claim that the former is the standard one: that is, my hand is the
> representation of the car.
> Now:
> Suppose A denotes B. Do we say that A is the denotation of B or that B
> is the denotation of A?
> Bizarrely, it appears that most people in the languages community use
> the latter. That is: suppose that "(lambda (x) x)" denotes the platonic
> identity function. I believe we say that the program is the denotation
> of the function, rather than that the function is the denotation of the
> program.
> This irritates me. I claim we need a new word for "the thing that A
> denotes".
> Is there already a standard term for this?
> John
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