I asked three different questions on twitter recently. Pity not to pass on what I learnt in a slightly more long-lasting form! In ascending order of likely interest:
- How do you pronounce “wff” in the classroom? Approximately woof seemed the majority view. Which is how I’ve always pronounced it. Some, oddly to my mind, prefer wiff. Some, apparently, spell it out w-f-f. Joel Hamkins wondered why we should use “wff” at all – why not just “formula”? Which is a very good question. The habit of a lifetime makes me a bit resistant to change, however!
- What’s a neat example of a written sentence with different meanings in different languages? — (approximate homophones are familiar, but I wanted a nice example that worked on the page). Thomas Brouwer offered the lovely “David Hume was slim”. Falsely saying in English that the bon viveur was svelte of figure, truly saying in Dutch that he was smart!
- “How many books has J.K. Rowling sold?”, “How many books has J.K. Rowling written?”. We need the distinction between tokens and types to properly construe the likely questions here. And we all know that Peirce was responsible for the nowstandard terminology for this distinction. But surely the distinction is an old one: who first made it (whatever the terminology)? Surely the stoics or other Greek writers talking about words, sentences, lekta, etc. would have somewhere made a type/token distinction? Or what about the medieval writers on logic? My learned twitter friends had no specific pointers to give. Which was a real surprise. What were we missing?