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date: 09 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Philosophers have long debated whether names carry any descriptive meaning or function simply as designators. Frege distinguished the act of reference from the sense a name might carry from different contexts, and Russell proposed that names function as abbreviated descriptions that can be judged true or false. Kripke and most others now argue that names are rigid designators of a definable entity. However, names are better viewed as semiotic signs that evoke a variety of associations, and successful communication as an addresser’s use of a name to evoke relevant but not perfectly identical associations. C. S. Peirce described the general types of associations as iconic, indexical, and symbolic, and in literature these are more varied than in most uses of language. We may assume that literature has artistic form and therefore that the semiotic associations possibly evoked by names have thematic relevance, open to interpretation but subject to systematic analysis.

Keywords: literary onomastics, semiotics, philosophy of language, theories of reference, names, associative meaning, interpretation, communication

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