Signs – arbitrary or operational? Lessons from studies on algebraic logic and planned languages in the work of Louis Couturat

I will use insights from Louis Couturat's studies on algebraic logic and from his work on planned languages to spell out the thesis that construction rules for complex words impose “horizontal” constraints on a language and thus qualify the arbitrary character of its signs. I will further suggest that this regular, “proto-algebraic” character of a language is of importance in regard of its cognitive function, permitting the language to serve as a cognitive tool rather than providing a mere expression of ready-made thoughts.

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