Volume 13, Issue 3, 2013
The Structure of Propositions and Cross-linguistic Syntactic Variability
In Jeffrey King’s theory of structured propositions, propositional structure mirrors the syntactic structure of natural language sentences that express it. I provide cases where this claim individuates propositions too finely across languages. Crucially, King’s paradigmatic proposition-fact ^that Dara swims^ cannot be believed by a monolingual Greek speaker, due to Greek syntax requiring an obligatory article in front of proper names. King’s two possible replies are: (i) to try to streamline the syntax of Greek and English; or (ii) to insist that English speakers can believe propositions inexpressible in Greek. I argue that the former option entails giving up a neo-Russelian framework, and the latter makes King’s account arbitrary or trivial. I conclude that the mirroring claim is untenable.