chapter  XIII
34 Pages

The Significance of Sentences: A. General. B. Psychological. C. Syntactical

A. GENERAL The question as to what makes a sentence significant is forced upon us by various problems.

There are, in the first place, the recognized rules of syntax in ordinciry languages. "Socrates is a man" is constructed in accordance with these rules, and is significant; but "is a man", considered as a complete sentence, violates the rules and is nonsensical. (I use "nonsensical" as thecontradictoryof"significant".) The rules of syntax in ordinary languages are obviously intended to prevent nonsense, but they fail to achieve their purpose completely. As we have already noted, "quadruplicity drinks procrastination" is nonsense, but violates no rules of English syntax. It must clearly be part of our present problem to construct better rules of syntax, which shall automatically prevent nonsense. In the early stages of our discussion, we are guided by the mere foeling as to what is significant, but we hope in the end to arrive at something better.