Some reflections on Chomsky’s notion of reference

Enrico Cipriani

University of Torino, Italy

In this paper, I will focus on Chomsky’s interpretation of the notion of reference. I will summarize Chomsky’s criticisms against the externalist interpretation of such notion, and I will then focus on the internalist (and syntactic) interpretation that the MIT linguist provides. Then I will focus on the relation between the internalist interpretation and the notion of truth, discussing in particular Casalegno and Hinzen’s objections: I will point out that truth does not represent a particular problem for the internalized reference. Finally, I will show how Chomsky explains, inside the internalist perspective, the phenomenon of communication. In Conclusions, I will sketch two important points.

internalized reference, internalist vs. subjective truth, communication, reference vs. referential acts, constitutional uniformity of speakers, I-language, truth conditions

Suggested citation

Cipriani, Enrico. 2016. Some reflections on Chomsky’s notion of reference. Linguistics Beyond and Within 2: 44-60. Online at:

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