On the modal dimension of linguistic sign: Frege’s semantic theory and its possible extension.

2014. №3, 96-111

Suren T. Zolyan
Sholokhov Moscow State University for the Humanities, RIAS, Moscow, 109240, Russia;
Institute of Philosophy, Sociology and Law, National Academy of Sciences of Armenia , Yerevan, 0010, Republic of Armenia;


We consider Frege’s, Peirce’s and Saussure’s conceptions of sign. The principal differences between them lead to divergent theories of linguistic sign. We suggest to expand Frege’s approach by modal extension. Frege’s basic idea is that a sense is a relation (function) that соrrelates linguistic expressions with non-linguistic objects. This function can be defined on the set of possible worlds. The formal definition of sense as a function can be supplemented by a substantial aspect of specifying the conditions of denotation, i. e. in respect to which worlds and with which intertextual and contextual means a denotation can be exercised. Thus, sense can be described both as a model of correspondence (reference) and as a mode of existence within that model (some set of possible worlds) of some object (in the case of proper name) or some class of objects (in the case of a common name). We suggest considering all these relations as a modal dimension of linguistic sign. Within the process of actualization the modal characteristics of the sign interact with the world and context of communication, whereby the denotation of the sign is specified in respect to a certain pair of «world– context».