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

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What is the relationship between lambda calculus and logical form?

I was first introduced to lambda calculus as a way to use syntax to compose the semantic value of a phrase from the semantic values of the components of that phrase. Lambda calculus does more than ...
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Suggested topics for research in Semantics [on hold]

I am a PhD Student at the university of Jordan and I think I am stuck with a topic in Semantics. Can anyone help me with some real topics that I can write about? Please I need this so urgently. I ...
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On use and mention in “His name is Joseph but you can call him Joe”

In a sentence like His name is Joseph, but you can call him Joe the names Joseph and Joe are not used 'referentially' (to name a certain male individual) but just 'mentioned', i.e., they are used ...
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How is the dative case for help being used here?

Swiss-German has dative and accusative case-marking for its objects. In the sentence "I gave him the book," "him" must be marked as dative and "the book" must be marked as accusative. It's clear that ...
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Where did generative semantics go wrong? Why was their conception of language faulty?

Where did generative semantics go wrong? Why was their conception of language faulty? What were the main weaknesses of generative semantics adherents' claim that "a grammar starts with a description ...
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Is lambda calculus only applicable if syntax trees are binary branching?

Lambda expressions are evaluated "hierarchically"--we resolve functions in the daughter node before we resolve functions in the mother node. In a given constituency, a sister node may define a ...
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If we can only translate declarative sentences into symbolic logic, then how is symbolic logic useful for linguistics?

I can see how SL can be a decent metalanguage for doing cross-linguistic semantic work, but I feel like it's severely limited by the fact that you can't translate any kind of non-declarative sentence. ...
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At what point in the syntactic hierarchy inside a clause do phrases acquire ‘propositional’ status?

In standard propositional logic, both p and –p are ‘propositions’. In natural language, however, what phrases smaller than TP are ‘propositional’ is much less obvious. For example, take the simplest ...
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If word usage is based on semantic range, how do new meanings emerge?

I recently read an article in which the author was attempting to explain how "semantic range" works. He explained it like this: words don't have "a" meaning; they have a semantic range of possible ...
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128 views

Why can verbs with imperfective morphology have a perfective meaning?

Some languages, e.g., Russian (1), Bulgarian (5) or Greek, show perfective readings of morphosyntactically imperfective verbs: (1) Jakov ezdil na more dvazhdy za poslednij god. J. rode.IPF ...
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67 views

Everything is too much, nothing is too little?

What are the statements of the sentence : Everything is too much, nothing is too little. "Alles ist zuviel, nichts zu wenig." In German there are several interpretations: That everything is too ...
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62 views

On donkey sentences: why is this formalization incorrect?

Part of the difficulty surrounding donkey sentences, to my understanding, is about how hard they are to translate to FOL in a matter that is consistent with other translations to FOL in english. Take ...
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143 views

Why does gang-nam and viet-nam both contain nam meaning south when one is in Korean the other Vietnamese?

Does anyone know why there is a character that is common to both the Koreans and the Vietnamese? Are there any other examples of these kind of similarity?
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Textbooks in Formal Semantics / Montague semantics

I'm looking for a cheap, thorough but reasonably accessible introduction to formal semantics. There appear to be lots of options on the market. I assume there are plenty of experts in formal semantics ...
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52 views

influence of the structure of a sentence on its semantics

A friend told me : "The syntax is different from semantics. Semantics are concerned with the meanings of single words, not the structure of the sentence" Is that true ? If not, how can the ...
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Do other languages distinguish the verbs “to drink” when talking about alcohol?

It's interesting that English uses the verb "to drink" intransitively exclusively when talking about alcohol, as in: I drink a lot. But transitively when talking about anything else, as in: ...
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53 views

What are common non-lexical indicators of sarcasm expressed orally in English

I've been doing some anecdotal research into what indicates sarcasm in spoken form. My goal is to find indicators of sarcasm without relying on the meaning of the words and sentences themselves. ...
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67 views

Semantic Relatedness metric across Parts of Speech

I am a student in psychology, but I have very little familiarity with linguistics. I am doing working on flexible cognition and memory, and we are developing a task that requires participants to ...
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Metaphor/metonymy

To lose one's head - is it a metaphor or metonymy? Head here probably stands for the life of a person,so it's probably a metonymy? And is it the same for phrase to give smb. a heart ?
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Are different “aspects” of a Polish verb the same lexeme or different lexemes?

Polish verbs have two "aspects", imperfective and perfective, which means you use a different word depending on whether the activity you're describing is ongoing or habitual, or if it's definite or ...
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Can every language express any lexical aspect?

Wikipedia tells about the difference and relation between lexical aspect and grammatical aspect. Whereas the lexical aspect is a specific way to put focus onto how to observe an event on a semantic ...
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106 views

Why do time adverbials like “yesterday” have a different distribution than adverbials like “always?”

Consider these two sentences below, which employ some kind of temporal adverbial / adjunct. (I) Yesterday John won the Turkey Raffle. (II) John always wins the Turkey Raffle. My question is, why ...
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What Sprachgesetze are suggested by Quantitative Linguistics on semantic level? [closed]

Sprachgesetze, verbatimally laws of language, are stochastic statements about features of a language based on empirical evaluation of a corpus. The Sprachgesetze I found are mainly quantitative ...
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Can the entropy per word be caculated precisely?And relation among information theory, semantics, and pragmatics

What we have gotten about the expected per word entropy of random yet grammatical text is just some upper bound of the the expected per word entropy, because we have not found the exact way to compute ...
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How many different relations exist for a semantic net?

I have encountered a few random sources, that explains to a layman what a semantic net is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONV38l39PsE this source explains, there are three different relations ...
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How many levels to approach language exist in linguistics?

I know only a few,like semantic level to approach its very meaning, the morphology level to understand how single words are build, syntax level to understand the inner structure of sentences. I ...
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Is there a good introduction to subjectivity in language?

Since the topic of "subjectivity in language" is all new to me, I am looking for an introduction to the topic that 1) gives an overview of the phenomena usually associated with the topic ...
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VerbNet semantic roles and preposition groups - how to determine matches

Using verbnet to test whether a sentence matches a frame, how does one determine whether the semantic role specified in the verbnet frame is appearing in the sentence or not? e.g. on this verbnet ...
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61 views

Center of a set of words

Is there any available algorithm that can take a set of words and attempt to find a word that best represents the "center of mass" of all those words? This would be easy if we can define a distance ...
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Redundancy needing definition [closed]

He was the first who finished last. He was the first who finished second. ............................ third. Is this kind of silly statement some kind of pleonasm? There's only one who takes ...
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Given a verb get a noun that corresponds to subject or object

I have verbs and I would like to find their corresponding noun for either subject or object. e.g. run:subject -> runner kill:subject -> killer kill:object -> dead I also would have groups of them ...
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107 views

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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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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140 views

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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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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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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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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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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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 ...