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Indefinite Description Phrase

An Indefinite Description Phrase is a referencing phrase that introduce entities that are new.



  • (Wikipedia, 2009) ⇒
    • Take as an example of an indefinite description the sentence "some man is being obnoxious". Russell analyzes this phrase into the following component parts (with 'x' and 'y' representing variables):
      • 1. there is an x such that x is a man.
      • 2. x is being obnoxious.
    • Thus, an indefinite description (of the general form 'an F is G') becomes the following existentially quantified phrase in classic symbolic logic (where 'x' and 'y' are variables and 'F' and 'G' are predicates):
      • ∃x[Fx & Gx]
    • Informally, this reads as follows: there is something such that it is F and G.


    • QUOTE: Definite noun phrases (including proper nouns and definite descriptions) are used to refer to something or someone that the hearer is expected to be able to identify on hearing the noun phrase in the given context. If the referent has not been introduced to the hearer or to the discourse, the speaker should refer to the referent in his or her mind by an indefinite noun phrase such as “a man called John” or by a definite description which uniquely identifies the referent to the hearer (e.g., “the father of Ronald Reagan”--provided that the hearer knows whom “Ronald Reagan” denotes).