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ABSTRACT. “Knowing a Language” addresses a topic that has received attention especially in the analytical branches of language philosophy. First, the paper discusses some prominent analytical observations as well as selected positions in semiotics, semiology, and linguistics before turning to a post-Husserlian response by way of a description of the intentional acts that we cannot but perform when we use language. The holistic, eidetic portrait of language that emerges is conceived within Husserl’s extended meaning chain, stretching from nonverbal meaning intention and its pre-syntactic categorial relations via their displacement by merely verbal sense, Husserl’s Bedeutung, to their nonverbal, vividly imaginable, proximate reconstruction in Husserl’s Sinn. Meanings are viewed as neither public nor private, but rather as indirectly public on the grounds that they combine of necessity individual instantiations of expressions under the communal coercion of the linguistic linkage compulsion. Thus, the paper provides an alternative explanation of what is involved in knowing how to link the sounds of linguistic utterances with community-sanctioned meanings.

Keywords: intentional acts; aboutness; categorial relations; voice; Bedeutung; Sinn

How to cite: Ruthrof, Horst (2020). “Knowing a Language – What Sort of ‘Knowing’ Is It?,” Analysis and Metaphysics 19: 7–30. doi:10.22381/AM1920201

Received 10 June 2019 • Received in revised form 8 August 2019
Accepted 8 August 2019 • Available online 25 August 2019

Horst Ruthrof
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Murdoch University, Perth, Australia

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