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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

5
votes
1answer
95 views
+50

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 ...
2
votes
1answer
47 views

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. ...
1
vote
1answer
63 views

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 ...
0
votes
1answer
61 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 ...
2
votes
1answer
71 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
54 views

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 ...
0
votes
0answers
24 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
76 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
97 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
44 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 ...
0
votes
1answer
63 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. ...
0
votes
0answers
75 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
70 views

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 ...
1
vote
1answer
79 views

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".
2
votes
1answer
97 views

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 ...
2
votes
2answers
210 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 ...
3
votes
2answers
69 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
116 views

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 ...
1
vote
0answers
38 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
94 views

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 ...
4
votes
1answer
69 views

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 ...
4
votes
3answers
286 views

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 ...
2
votes
0answers
53 views

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 ...
-3
votes
2answers
140 views

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
109 views

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 ...
6
votes
0answers
84 views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
57 views

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
164 views

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 ...
-1
votes
1answer
187 views

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. ...
4
votes
3answers
192 views

What do you call an activity accomplished by other activities

Is there a term for activities which are only ever accomplished by other activities? If I were to make up a term I'd call them meta-activities. Some examples of what I'm thinking of: teaching - ...
3
votes
0answers
96 views

Why must adversative coordination be binary?

At Glottopedia we read that adversative coordination expresses semantic contrast between the coordinands. In English, adversative coordination is usually accomplished with “but,” as in these ...
2
votes
2answers
196 views

The Liar's Paradox : a linguistic perspective

The sentence "This sentence is false." is a paradox (called the "liar's paradox) as even though being well formed it is a contradiction. While logicians can call this a case of un-decidability what ...
4
votes
2answers
100 views

“I thought X was Y” vs. “I thought Y was X”

Walking with my wife the other day, I turned around and realized that the person behind me was, in fact, someone else, and my wife had stopped to look in a shop. I said to her 1a Oh, I thought ...
2
votes
0answers
34 views

Which annotation software can I use to annotate scope and focus?

I'm looking for an annotation software (no matter which OS), which lets me annotate focus and scope, as user-friendly as possible, e.g., via console input, or via a graphical editor (mouse-supported). ...
6
votes
3answers
409 views

Are “mother” and “father” antonyms?

I think that this is not pure antonymy. If it's still antonymy, do linguists have a separate term for this type of semantic relationship?
2
votes
3answers
325 views

What is the difference between “or” and “either…or”?

What is the difference between "or" and "either...or? Obviously, one comprises one phonological word and the other comprises two. I have yet to find an analysis of "either...or" in which "either" ...
5
votes
2answers
220 views

Are the meanings of «I know what you know» distinguishable?

First let me warn you I have no academic formation in Linguistics, I can't define that area well, so if this sounds off-topic, it probably is. "I know what you know" is an ambiguous sentence, ...
2
votes
1answer
114 views

Semantic logic of the word “both” in English - different from “and”?

I am trying to figure out what additional semantic information "both" carries when used in a sentence. Does it differ from "and"? Take the following sentences: Alice and Bob both ate lunch. vs. ...
5
votes
2answers
217 views

Online Semantic Relatedness Database?

I'm looking for something like the (really excellent and useful) MRC database that includes a measure of semantic relatedness for a given pair or set of words in colloquial American English. I've ...
3
votes
1answer
136 views

Aktionsart - “brought”

I'm trying to analyse the verb brought (or bring) in terms of lexical aspect, or aktionsart. More accurately, it's an analysis of the Hungarian verb "hozta" (bring-3sg.pst.def). Would it be telic ...
1
vote
0answers
46 views

Can some verbs be unergative in some contexts and unaccusative in others?

It seems to me that there are a number of English verbs that can stand for acts that can be done voluntarily or involuntarily. Sometimes we can't help but laugh, but anyone with even mild acting ...
0
votes
0answers
72 views

links in Explicit Semantic Analysis (ESA) of Wikipedia articles

I understand the need to take the links to other articles into account while generating the interpretation vector for an article (for Explicit Semantic Analysis (ESA)). I don't know how exactly it is ...
3
votes
1answer
152 views

Are there any atelic ditransitive verbs (or verb phrases)?

I am wondering if there are any verbs/phrases that qualify both as ditransitive, and as atelic. The following shows the relevant tests. The satisfying verb/phrase should have the same * patterns as ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

What is the relationship between syntax and semantics?

There are a number of positions you can take on what the relationship between syntax and semantics. You could think that syntax is prior and so think that an expression's syntactic function ...
1
vote
0answers
75 views

Why semantics can't be the input to syntax

so I have a Syntax II final Friday and am really confused about one of the study guide questions: "Why can't semantics be the input to Syntax? Illustrate with examples". Could anyone please shed some ...
4
votes
2answers
164 views

Conjunctive NPs in Montague Grammars

I'm considering the sentence Some man and some woman visited a garden Obviously it's not 100% unambiguous how many gardens there are, but I think most people would agree there is just one common ...
0
votes
0answers
54 views

Rates and Units: The difference?

My friend/coworker and I got into a pretty heated discussion about a label for a graph I had made and the units I was using. We work in internet advertising where there is a type of unit (I consider ...
1
vote
0answers
89 views

On price tags/labels why some nouns are used singular/plural regardless of countability?

Is there any explanation regarding why some nouns are used in singular form while the others are used in plural form such as price tags in stores or menus in restaurants. I know that in languages ...
3
votes
0answers
80 views

Is there count/mass distinction in European Portuguese as it is in English?

It is said that European Portuguese has count/mass distinction as many Indo-European languages. However I noticed out that all products/items at stores in Portugal are labeled in singular form. In ...
2
votes
8answers
494 views

Textbook suggestions for syntax, semantics/pragmatics and phonetics/phonology

I am coming to linguistics from a completely non-linguistic background; I was a mathematician. Next year I will start taking some serious (Master's level) linguistics courses and I would like to have ...