ABSTRACT

In order for there to be speech, first the tongue must strike the air and if there were no letters, the meaning of a word would be difficult to establish.

In his contribution to this volume, Bechtel argues for the importance of "external symbols such as sounds and inscriptions" in language use. He also speculates that "even in private thinking we are using symbols as if they were external." In this chapter, the points made by Bechtel are generally endorsed, but with one important qualification. In mentioning some differences between "sounds" and "inscriptions," Bechtel treats the two as equivalent with respect to their symbolic function. In contrast to this, I show that formal symbol manipulation presupposes the existence of written notational systems, both linguistic and extralinguistic.