[FOM] 23 syllables

T.Forster@dpmms.cam.ac.uk T.Forster at dpmms.cam.ac.uk
Thu Dec 7 05:28:38 EST 2006

One does wonder whether or not this might be an arch little Quine joke: he 
was a syntax buff, after all. It should - of course(!) - read ``*fewer* 
than nineteen syllables'' not ``*less* than nineteen syllables''.

There's the extra syllable and with it your solution!

On Dec 6 2006, henri galinon wrote:

>Dear FOMers,
>  in his essay "The ways of paradox", Quine has a passage on Berry's  
>paradox. At the very end of the passage (last remark of the following  
>quote), he offers the reader a little amusing game (implicitly at  
>least) by hinting at a solution. My question is : what is Quine's  
>"solution" ?
>  I quote the entire relevant passage :
>" Ten has a one-syllable name. Seventy-seven has a five-syllable  
>name. The seventh power of seven hundred seventy-seven has a name  
>that, if we were to work it out, might run to 100 syllables or so;  
>but this number can also be specified more briefly in other terms. I  
>have just specified it in 15 syllables. We can be sure, however, that  
>there are no end of numbers that resist all specification, by name or  
>description, under 19 syllables. There is only a finite stock of  
>syllables all together, and hence only a finite number of names or  
>phrases of less than 19 syllables, whereas there are an infinite  
>number of positive integers. Very well, then ; of those numbers not  
>specifiable in less than 19 syllables, there must be a least. And  
>here is our antinomy : the least number not specifiable in less than  
>nineteen syllables is specifiable in 18 syllables. I have just so  
>specified it.
>The antinomy belongs to the same family as the antinomies that have  
>gone before. For the key word of this antinomy, "specifiable", is  
>interdefinable with "true of". It is one more of the truth locutions  
>that would take on subscripts under the Russell-Tarski plan. The  
>least number not specifiable-0 in less than nineteen syllables is  
>indeed specifiable-1 in 18 syllables, but it is not specifiable-0 in  
>less than 19 syllables ;  for all I know it is not specifiable-0 in  
>less than 23."
>PhD student
>Paris, France
>FOM mailing list
>FOM at cs.nyu.edu

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