sentence
Most generally, the unit of communication: the smallest entity whose production constitutes a message, such as an assertion, a command, or a question. Given such factors as variations of phonetics or spelling, recognition of two speech acts as the production of the same sentence is already a matter of interpretation, but one that is usually automatic to speakers of the same native language. Grammatically a sentence is the unit whose structure is subserved by other recognized features of a language. The priority of the sentence in much analytical philosophy is summed up in Frege's dictum that it is only in the context of a sentence that words have meaning. The least controversial interpretation of the slogan is that for a word to mean anything is simply for it to contribute systematically to the meaning of whole sentences in which it is embedded. A word is not a thing with its own ‘projection’ onto parts of the world; instead, the presence of a word (or more accurately, a morpheme ) is a feature of a sentence, one which plays a role in determining its meaning, and whose variation systematically determines the meaning of related sentences. A more radical extension of the same line suggests that it is only in the context of a whole theory, or world view, or language, that a single sentence means anything. In the terminology of Dummett, according priority to words is semantic ‘atomism’, to sentences, ‘molecularism’, and to anything larger, ‘holism’. See also Duhem thesis.

Philosophy dictionary. . 2011.

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  • sentence — sen·tence 1 / sent əns, ənz/ n [Old French, opinion, judicial sentence, from Latin sententia, ultimately from sentire to feel, think, express an opinion] 1: a judgment formally pronouncing the punishment to be inflicted on one convicted of a… …   Law dictionary

  • sentence — [ sɑ̃tɑ̃s ] n. f. • 1190; lat. sententia, de sentire « juger » 1 ♦ Décision rendue par un juge ou un arbitre. Prononcer, rendre, exécuter une sentence. ⇒ arrêt, décret, jugement, verdict. « sous le coup d un arrêt de mort, entre la sentence et l… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • sentence — de juge, Iudicium. Une sentence et jugement de laquelle le peuple a esté mal content, Iudicium inuidiosum. Bailler sentence, Pronuntiare. Donner quelque sentence ou appoinctement contre aucun, Decernere aliquid contra rem alicuius. On a donné… …   Thresor de la langue françoyse

  • sentence — Sentence. s. f. Dit memorable, Apophtegme, maxime qui renferme un grand sens, une belle moralité. Les Proverbes de Salomon sont autant de Sentences admirables. un discours plein de Sentences. le Style de Seneque est rempli de Sentences. une des… …   Dictionnaire de l'Académie française

  • Sentence — Sen tence, n. [F., from L. sententia, for sentientia, from sentire to discern by the senses and the mind, to feel, to think. See {Sense}, n., and cf. {Sentiensi}.] 1. Sense; meaning; significance. [Obs.] [1913 Webster] Tales of best sentence and… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Sentence — • In canon law, the decision of the court upon any issue brought before it Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Sentence     Sentence      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • sentence — 1. Many users of this book will have been taught that a sentence is a group of words that makes complete sense, contains a main verb, and when written begins with a capital letter and ends with a full stop (or a question mark if it is a question… …   Modern English usage

  • Sentence — or sentencing may refer to:* Sentence (linguistics), a grammatical unit of language * Sentence (mathematical logic), a formula with no free variables * Sentence (music), the smallest period in a musical composition * Sentence (law), the final act …   Wikipedia

  • sentence — vb Sentence, condemn, damn, doom, proscribe can all mean to decree the fate or punishment of a person or sometimes a thing that has been adjudged guilty, unworthy, or unfit. Sentence is used in reference to the determination and pronouncement of… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • sentence — [sent′ ns] n. [OFr < L sententia, way of thinking, opinion, sentiment, prob. for sentientia < sentiens, prp. of sentire, to feel, SENSE] 1. a) a decision or judgment, as of a court; esp., the determination by a court of the punishment of a… …   English World dictionary

  • Sentence — Sen tence, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Sentenced}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Sentencing}.] 1. To pass or pronounce judgment upon; to doom; to condemn to punishment; to prescribe the punishment of. [1913 Webster] Nature herself is sentenced in your doom. Dryden.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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