Adam I. Gerard

Inner Semantics #3

I've decided to rebrand this concept as Semantic Immuration. I will likely use that term going forward (but may regress into my original way of describing this topic - my apologies).

Semantic Immuration involves the contents of a proposition including its own language. A language for a proposition is contained within it rather than a proposition belonging to a language.

Some practical applications of this idea are described below.

Staving Off Ambiguity

Semantic Immuration involves several metalinguistic concepts. One of the most prominent of these involves semantic ambiguity (ambiguity) and I'll focus on that below.

  1. One area where Semantic Immuration might be of practical use is in programming. Ambiguity in programming arises both generally and locally (and probably elsewhere too):

i. Expression of a language can be ambiguous between or within the context of two language versions. Some code blocks function slightly differently given using an earlier or later version of the same language specification. Many languages remove or add functionality between major versions.

ii. Type Checking offers significant improvements to a codebase in terms of reducing bug defects. Types, however, can significantly change while the Type Checks remain unchanged. One can, for instance, add, remove, or modify a Type's attributes, methods, visibility, etc. significantly changing the behavior or way the Type works when it interacts with code. Best practices and good design patterns/planning help to mitigate those worries. However, we can see that even with Type Checking (which reduces runtime ambiguity at the parameter/argument level), there are still some potential ambiguities that can creep their way in.

  1. Military Signalling requires that succinct, oftentimes unambiguous, meanings be relayed quickly and securely. Semantic Immuration might help with trimming down ambiguity by carefully restricting the range of intended and interpreted meanings that are conveyed and received by messaging.

  2. In interpersonal contexts, sentimental meaning might be expressed (and understood) in a unitarily singular way (rather than causing a faux pas, argument, misunderstanding, or conflict).

  3. In legal contexts, a contractual or legal term might be defined in a completely fixed and unambiguous way.