Semantics is the study of meaning, used to understand expressions through language.

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What is the scope of negation (again)?

I recently asked a question concerning the scope of negation. I received helpful feedback from a number of linguists who frequent this forum. My efforts to discern the scope of negation continue, and ...
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Do individuals have an Occam’s razor for word meanings?

Background and Example On the German Stack Exchange, we had a lengthy discussion regarding the meaning of the word Gefäß. It was undisputed that a Gefäß is: an item which can contain liquids ...
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Are theta roles universal?

Is the theta role in one language (ex. English) - L1 the same as in another language - L2, when this two sentence are about the same ? Can anybody give me example, when they are different ?
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What is the scope of negation?

A recent question posed by another user observed that the following sentence is ambiguous: (1) Arthur does not discipline his children because he loves them. This sentence can mean either that ...
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Term for a similar word that cannot stand for it in every context?

I once learned a term meaning a similar word that cannot stand for it in every context, i.e. a synonym that doesn't work in every instance the original word can (not a hypernym). What is this term?
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Relationship between “see” and “look”

I'm interested in how "see" and "look" relate to each other. I think "hear" and "listen" is similar. Is there specific linguistic terminology that describes how the words relate to each other? To me ...
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What is the difference between assertive and non-assertive words?

What is the difference between assertive and non-assertive words? I haven't been able to find an answer in my online linguistics sources such as the SIL Glossary of Linguistics Terms. The only ...
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81 views

NP + “had better” + Infinitive V

It just occurred to me that this construction is very peculiar. Pronoun: I had better get going. NP: The cat had better be home. Expletive: There had better be food on the table. ...
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Theory behind the semantics of predicates

My goal is to build semantic representation of Russian sentences, i.e. to extract verb predicates and fill in the actant words. The tool I have is some kind of a shallow syntactic parser which works ...
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Nouns and Interrogative Complements

In English, there are many different verbs which can combine with clausal complements. These verbs can be further sub-categorised as to whether they embed a propositional that-clause, or an embedded ...
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Is the semantic component of a generative grammar especially difficult to incorporate in psycholinguistic proccessing models?

It is often said that it is difficult to match up the structure rules of a grammar with psychologically realistic models of competence. I was wondering if the semantic component was especially ...
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39 views

What are the composition rules of these sentences?

let the cat out of the bag, take off clothes, burn the candle at both ends For example: the C-Rule of "bring home the bacon" is: VC("the bacon",NP,AJ2)VA([home],A,AJ1); Here is also a good ...
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Do these errors affect how native speakers understand these sentences?

I'm working on a research concerning error analysis. I want to ask whether these errors would affect what meaning a native speaker will interpret these sentences as conveying? In magic realism it’s ...
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Why are kinship terms typical examples of inalienablity but not meronomy?

According to Chappell & McGregor (1996: 4) there are four typically types of inalienably possessed nouns: spatial relationships such as the ’top’ or ’front’ of something physical parts, ...
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51 views

Composite truth tables for sentence relations (entailment, synonymy,etc.)

I'm using John Saeed's 'Semantics'. Now in chap 4 I see he is trying to formalize sentence relations such as entailment, synonymy, contradiction, etc., by some kind of different truth tables he calls ...
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87 views

What to call the content of pronouns

English and most Indo-European languages have gender-based pronouns, it can be seen he (3SG: +masculine) or she (3SG: +feminine) in English. Some other languages do not have gender-based pronouns but ...
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139 views

What are the necessary and sufficient characteristics of a word to be considered as nominal?

Clearly there are morphological "tendencies" (case inflection, no TAM marking) -- but what about the semantic or syntactic characteristics (even if they are just tendencies and not universal)? I ...
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Name for statements with exhaustible meaning?

I'm new to linguistics and I'm having trouble finding out if there's any existing literature on statements that have exhaustible meaning. By exhaustible meaning, I'm trying to get at something like ...
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87 views

The notion of monotonicity

I am slightly confused bu the notion of upward-monotonicity and downward-monotonicity. I cannot understand what exactly can be defined as upward-monoty and down-ward-monotony, is this definition of ...
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Production of mind maps

On SpanishD!ct, an interesting discussion about the use of mind maps in language learning has arisen. (This has been trimmed down from a question on ELL.) Are there mind maps such as these that are ...
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Is there a way to distinguish habitualis from generic interpretation?

I'm looking for a way to classify a given sentence as either habitualis or generic in a language where neither is a grammatical category. Thus, it should be a some semantic feature of the sentence. ...
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Which languages conflate (imperfective) past and irrealis, and why?

In English, the "simple past" form of a verb can sometimes be used to convey irrealis meanings, without any preterite sense: If I was rich, I'd buy a Porsche. If you only knew! I'd like to be able ...
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How do idioms and metaphors fit into the principle of compositionality?

The principle of compositionality is formulated as: The meaning of a complex expression is a function of the meaning of its parts and of the syntactic rules by which they are combined. ...
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Two sentences with the same meaning

I am looking for a statistical or linguistic method that could give the degree of similarity between the meaning of two sentences. I have found in literature many distance measures (euclidean ...
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69 views

How to express semantics in functions

As I understand it, the function is assigned the predicate ( e.g. let f(x) denote [[ _ is red]] ), the domain is the set of all possible referents and the range is the set of all possible ...
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Differences of 'Meta-linguistic' & 'reflexive' statements

I'm currently using John Lyons' 'Semantics' vol 1. In the section 1.3 Object-language and Meta language, after he defines those concepts, he tries to show the difference between meta-linguistic and ...
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Is there an established distinction between semantic and syntactic predicates?

My question is probing to learn whether semanticists (and syntacticians) draw a distinction between what I am calling here semantic and syntactic predicates. The question concerns the status of the NP ...
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Abbreviation taking the meaning of the whole expression

In English and some other languages (such as Portuguese and possibly Italian), the word "calculus" is actually an abbreviation from "differential and integral calculus" that has taken the meaning of ...
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What thematic roles are played by the subject of an intransitive verb?

I am not familiar with the concept of thematic roles, just what is on wikipedia. Here is what I have come up with. agent: The man runs patient: The man was tripped. experiencer: The man falls. My ...
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108 views

Why does this pronomial not refer?

Consider the following interlocution, Maria: "A man fell off the cliff!" Tabish: "He didn't fall, he was pushed." My professor concluded, This shows that pronouns cannot be the same as the ...
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47 views

Analysis of Evidentials

If I analyse evidential devices, is it lexical or propositional level of analysis? I would say it is propositional level, because, for instance, modal verbs being taken out of context may have ...
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183 views

How I can identify semantic features?

Actually, I want to know what are the factors to notice in determining semantic features of different parts of speech. I recognize some of them like +/- animate, +/- human, +/- male, and +/- young. ...
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173 views

English vs. Esperanto (in grammar, vocabulary, semantics)

I know Esperanto is constructed on the basis of Romance languages; but what are the main differences and similarities between English and Esperanto? Especially from the following aspects: grammar ...
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Establishing the most common “semantic units” in a corpus

I have a corpus concerning spoken English, where the most common words include: you, the, i, to, a. However, I'm not only interested in words but also groups of consecutive words where the meaning is ...
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Multiple words with a single meaning

What is the technical term from a group of consecutive words with a single associated meaning? For example, phrasal verbs like: "get out" and idioms like: "on the other hand".
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In which of these sentences is “and” used for coordination?

I had a discussion on coordination with one of my friends and thought it would be better to ask it here. The question is which one of these are coordination and why? Mary likes cakes and hates ...
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234 views

Almost half crazy vs Almost half sane

Forgive me if it is not the right place to ask this question in SE sites. I am mostly active on SO but I thought it might be a better fit here. I enrolled in a class this semester and there was a ...
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What is the extension and intension of “I'm writing an exam right now.”

I study undergraduate philosophy. I enrolled in a semantics class this semester, which just held its first exam. One of the questions asked, What is the extension, and the intension, of "I'm ...
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What makes a sentence difficult to understand?

When I learned Swedish I noticed I went through two phases of learning with regard to understanding the language. First I had to learn the meaning of common words. For example, "mening" means both ...
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When do you use 'in' vs 'by' when talking about payments and transactions [closed]

When talking about buying things and making payments for them etc... what context would you use "in" vs"by" when referring to the payment. For example... She paid by credit card. (felicitous) She ...
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Is there a term to denote the semantics of “the action of X”?

In English, the -ing form of verb performs multiple semantic functions; one of those functions is "the action of X". In Japanese, the -no morpheme performs multiple semantic functions, and one of ...
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Do some isolating languages have something other than accusative morpho-syntactic alignment?

In R.M.W. Dixon's book, "Ergativity," I read that ergative-absolutive marking is generally morphological. IIRC, that goes for split-S alignment and fluid-S alignment as well. For those who came ...
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Most succinct written language

I am wondering what the most succinct written language is. I would call one language more succinct than another if that language could communicate the same idea as another with fewer characters. I ...
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Semantic Variability of Clause Chaining?

my question concerns languages with clause chaining - that form sentences composed of a string of non-finite medial clauses followed by a finite final clause, or a finite initial clause followed by a ...
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How to solve 48÷2(9+3) from a linguistics perspective? [closed]

Suppose an alien life comes to Earth, and challenges us to answer a question that will allow them do determine if we can communicate without ambiguities and solve controversies in a rational way. The ...
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The “affectee-subject HAVE” construction in English

English has a somewhat unusual construction exemplified by sentences like the following: He had his car stolen. He had his house repossessed. He's had three books published. These are different ...
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Why do most semantic theories assume no bottom/null element for mereological approaches to events?

Mereological theories of events usually assume that the domain of events forms a join semilattice with no bottom element.(Landman 2004's "Indefinites and the Type of Sets" is one of the few exceptions ...
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What aspect or feature do “over TIME” constructions have?

I have been searching around but as far as I can tell there is no established name for the aspect demonstrated by sentences such as: "I'll read this report over the weekend." "The debt has ...
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What are these NPs, syntactically and semantically?

Sue considers Joe a fool. Sue calls Joe "Daddy-O". Joe weighs 200 pounds. It seems that none of these are objects, as witnessed by the fact that you can't raise them to be the subject of a passive ...
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Why the following two jokes are fun in terms of linguistic terms?

A: What's a baby pig called? B: A piglet. A: So what's a baby toy called? B: A toylet. Tom: Mike has asked me for a loan of five pounds. Should I be doing right in lending it to him? Jack: Certainly. ...