Tone Token Type • Discussion

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Jon Awbrey

Feb 17, 2024, 5:00:36 PMFeb 17
to Conceptual Graphs, Cybernetic Communications, Laws of Form, Structural Modeling, SysSciWG
Tone Token Type • Discussion 1


Daniel Everett shared an interesting remark about
Peirce's Tone-Token-Type distinctions on Facebook.

Re: FB | Daniel Everett

❝People who believe that Peirce's terms firstness, secondness,
and thirdness are complicated might have overlooked the fact
that they almost certainly already use two of the three terms
via Peirce's other terms type (thirdness) and token (secondness).
What is missing is only Peirce's other term tone, which refers
to firstness.

❝These distinctions are crucial. Take linguistic fieldwork.
When the fieldworker first hears something or sees something
but has no idea about it other than it is “strange” or unexpected,
that is a tone/firstness. When the linguist proposes the phones
of a language, the list are tokens/secondnesses. When the linguist
proposes phonemes, those are types/thirdnesses. (And underlying form
would be a thirdness/type and the surface form a secondness/token.)❞

I added the following remarks.

The way Peirce shades the matter of signs along the lines of
a Tone‑Token‑Type spectrum is a topic of recurring discussion.
There's a selection of Peirce quotes and a few comments from me
on the following page.

Tone, Token, Type,_Token,_Type

Re: C.S. Peirce • Note 1,_Token,_Type#Note_1

❝For a “possible” Sign I have no better designation than a Tone,
though I am considering replacing this by “Mark”.❞

I've seen some readers be confused by Peirce's sometime alternative of
Mark for Tone, thinking he meant something like a scratch‑mark on paper,
but he is using Mark in the sense of Character(istic), Distinctive Feature,
or Quality. I don’t know whether he had it in mind but that particular use
was also common among 19th Century mathematicians in the early years of the
subject known as the Representation Theory of Groups.



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