To the extent that ontologies are about meaning, it is curious that they have not yet engaged particularly with theories of signification, particularly with semiotic accounts of signification. This is in turn largely due to the fact that the analytic philosophical tradition, upon which work on ontology mostly builds, itself has weak semiotic foundations. One consequence of this is that many current discussions of the relation between language, particularly language resources, and general ontology oversimplify the semiotic complexity of the phenomenon of language in a variety of ways. In this contribution, I address this issue by considering a possible positioning of ‘language’, in the sense of full human natural languages, within the well developed foundational ontology DOLCE. I explore first how the properties of language push its ontological placement towards treatment as a particular kind of abstract quality space and consider some of the questions this raises. In conclusion, I suggest broadening the discussion to talk of meaning practices in general, rather than just those traditionally grouped under ‘verbal language’, which would help in establishing a bridge between foundational ontology and broader semiotic treatments of meaning-making.
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