Questions tagged [formal-semantics]

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Formalizing Natural Languages

I've been interested in the subject of metalanguages [in mathematical logic] and how (if) we can formalize them. Most metalanguages I've encountered use some variation of a natural language (such as ...
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Series of textbooks to learn semantics from beginners' to advanced level

I am not a student of linguistics, but my interest in mathematics, philosophy and computer science inevitably leads me to many terms and concepts used in linguistics, particularly semantics. I have ...
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What is the semantic type of the expression NOT in "Tina but not John"?

What is the semantic type of the expression not in the structure below? I understand that proper nouns have their generalized qualifier types, but I am unsure how to derive the semantic type from the ...
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Formal semantics of "first" in the phrase "first line of input" - is "first" flowing outside its noun phrase?

I am trying to express into formal semantics the first programming problem of 2019 ICPC contest (https://icpc.global/worldfinals/problems) and this problem contains text: The first line of input ...
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what's the denotation of the predicate 'exists'?

What denotation do linguists assign to the predicate exists in order to make the right predictions about the truth conditions of sentences like Santa does not exist. Unicorns do not exist. My ...
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A question regarding semantics of "only"

I have a question regarding semantics of only provided by Beaver & Clark (2009) and Chierchia (2013). for something like "Sandy only met [Bush]F" (let this proposition be called p). ...
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Does simple type theory distinguish between those common nouns that are used as arguments and those that are used as predicates?

Kearns (2011: 58-61) views the common noun dog to be of type <e, t>. This makes sense based upon the predicate use of such a noun, e.g. Those animals are dogs. What happens, though, when the ...
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Is there an approach to quantification theory that construes quantifiers as subset creators?

In formal semantics, the theory of generalized quantifiers analyzes quantifiers (e.g. all, some, no, most, few, etc.) in terms of sets to sets. The meaning of the quantifier some, for instance, is ...
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What's a good second formal semantics book?

I'm almost done reading Heim and Kratzer's Semantics in Generative Grammar and I'm looking for a good "second" book on formal semantics. Ideally, I would like it to emphasize the syntax-...
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Lectures on Semantics in Generative Grammar

I do not know if my question is pertinent, but I would like to ask if you know any places where to find video lectures on formal semantics in linguistics, specifically approaches treated in Heim and ...
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Quantifier clause in Heim's presupposition theory

there is a point in a paper by Irene Heim related to problems with presuppositions in complex sentences that I do not properly get. The article is the following: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10....
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Is there a standard accepted definition of in-situ quantification, and if so what is it?

I'm reading a paper that references Montague being focused on in-situ quantification. I'm not a linguist, so apologies for the naivety, but how does this differ from what is being called bounded ...
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If adjectives denote functions of type <<e,t>,<e,t>>, then what denotation of *be* will allow adjectives to appear in predicative position?

Suppose [[gray]] = λf ∈ D<e,t> . [λx ∈ De . f(x) = 1 and x is gray]. Since this function is of type <<e,t>,<e,t>>, it would seem that sentences like Julius is gray are ...
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Inverse scope reading

It is well known that any sentence with two or more quantifiers will result in in multiple possible readings depending on the ordering of the quantifiers. To take a known example (1), there will be ...
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Know and Factivity

Consider the following sentence: (1) I don't know that John kissed Mary. When I assert this sentence, am I contradicting myself? The reason is as follows: following Stalnaker's view on the factivity ...
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Intuitionistic type theory in linguistics

How important is type theory for modern formal linguistics? I am looking for modern references that build on Ranta's (Ranta, Aarne. "Type-theoretical grammar." (1994)) use of type theory for ...
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Can formal linguistics help language learning?

I am interested in the intersection between abstract, formal grammars/semantics of human language and the very concrete task of learning a new language. Are there any books whose presentation assumes ...
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Angelika Kratzer's modal bases

In Kratzer’s theory, for each world w, modal base is the set of propositions p such that the speaker knows in w that p is true, e.g. f(w) = {p1, p2, p3}. Following the standard assumption in possible ...
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Is formal semantics useful for computational linguistics and NLP?

I browsed the table of content of Cann's Formal Semantics. Cann's book is for linguistics, and am I right that it is helpful for computational linguistics and natural language processing? But it also ...
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Tools for converting text to logical form

What's the State of the Art in software for converting text to some sort of logical form? Pros and con's of different packages approaches, if more than one exists?
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'some students,' 'many students' etc. in logical formula

'John met the student' would translate as: (∃x student(x) ⋀ (∀y (student(y) → y = x)) ⋀ met(j,x)) where, j stands for John. We have the existential quantifier and the universal quantifier; hence, ...
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truth condition of 'uniqueness' in the (neo) Russellian theory

I'm trying to work out how (∀y (student(y) → y = x) represents uniqueness. How come we need that formula there? Doesn't just ∃x student(x) ⋀ met(j,x)) suffice? Or, would it be the expression for I ...
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Is there a way to express a negation modifier in lambda calculus?

I want to model the Middle High German sentence "Ih néhabo niêht in geméitun sô uuîlo geuuêinot" that can be glossed as "I Neg-have not-at-all in vain so much cried" meaning "I have not at all cried ...
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What explanatory advantages does so-called "type theory" have?

Some linguists use a theory called "type theory"; you can see it in a few questions on this site. Apparently it is based on the "type theory" of maths, logic, and computer science. Wikipedia's ...
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Definite descriptions and essentially indistinguishable participants

In the analysis of definite descriptions there is a problem called "The Problem of Indistinguishable Participants", exemplified by the so-called bishop sentences: If a bishop meets a bishop, the ...
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Is language "necessarily underspecified"?

I've read an exam question given in a class on Semantics, that was asking Why is language necessarily underspecified I did not find much about this at the time, which is surprising because it ...
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What's an Event Argument?

Davidsonian and Neo-davidsonian formal semantics is full of templates containing something labelled as Event Argument. For example, In Kratzer (1996, p.1), discussing severing the external argument ...
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existential force and universal force

I was reading the paper below, and because of my lack of knowledge on the linguistic terms, I have been stuck half way through. If you would be kind enough to enlighten me, I would be very much ...
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Necessity and Possibility, Domain Widen, Indeterminate Phrase

I wanna ask a question about semantics. It's on page 20 in the paper "Indeterminate Pronouns: The View from Japanese" (Kratzer & Shimoyama, 2002). What I don't understand is the part Computing ...
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Compositional semantics without possible

Is there a way to do compositional semantics without possible worlds? Especially in the case of semantics of fictional objects. I was trying to think of fictional objects as 'grammatical object' so ...
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Examples of languages with complex "formules de politesse"

French uses complex word arrangements to say "best regards" and "yours sincerely" to finish well written letters, i.e.: Nous vous prions d’agréer, Monsieur, l’expression de nos sentiments respectueux ...
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Converting types into lambda notation and set notation

I am looking into different phrases and their semantic derivation. For example, the verb sneeze: Type (e,t) λx[SNEEZE]x In a sentence like: Michael and Jamie sneeze, I would like to know how to get ...
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Solving type mismatch

I am doing a semantic derivation of the following sentence: Cathy and Fred drank three coffees. I know the types of each individual component but when trying to work towards t, I find a type ...
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1 answer
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The semantic type of and?

Semantic types meaning for example a verb being of type (e,t), or an individual/entity being of type e. I am confused in these two sentences, because I believe the semantic type of 'and' is different ...
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How active formal semantics as a research field today?

I've heard from some people (working in computational linguistics) that today the area of formal semantics is on the decline. On the other hand, I can see many new papers from formal semanticists on ...
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3 votes
2 answers
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Computational/Formal Approaches to Paragraph-Level Semantics

There are several frameworks that have been built by both linguists and computer scientists to deal with the problem of semantic representation of sentences, most notably Abstract Meaning ...
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Understanding Feature Grammar syntax

Background: I am a software dev who doesn't really know much about linguistics but I am trying to learn some of it for an application I'm making I am trying to understand Feature Grammar syntax, and ...
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Name for the view that ambiguities in natural language are imperfections of it?

For instance, in natural language, "or" is slightly different from logical OR, "some" is slightly different from logical EXISTS, etc. What is the name of the belief that these discrepancies are ...
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Neural Net advances in textual entailment and mathematical semantics/logic view on it

I wonder if researchers working on textual entailment using explicit modelling tools (mathematical semantics / logic /formal semantics) have an explanation of recent success of neural networks in ...
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Complete NL formalisms w/out syntax

What are the natural language formalisms that, roughly speaking, do away w/ syntax as a separate level of description? Cf. Steedman's "The Syntactic Process" (2000): "...syntactic structure is ...
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directed graph representation of LF

I am a logician new to linguistics. I am curious if there has been any work on using the formalism of directed graphs (as opposed to, say, lambda-calculus or first-order logic) to represent LF of ...
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4 votes
1 answer
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'sibling-in-law' constructions: Why the polysemy/vagueness?

A holds the 'sibling-in-law' relation to B only in the case when: (1) A is a sibling of C and C is married to B; or (2) A is married to C and C is a sibling of B. What is common to (1) and (2) is ...
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Formal semantics (Montague, type-theoretical) of noun clauses

Partee has nice summary about the formal semantics of relative clause http://people.umass.edu/partee/MGU_2005/MGU05Lec10.pdf (subordinate adjectival clause). E.g. At least one boy who Mary loves is ...
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Formal semantics (Montague, type-theoretical) of adverbial clauses

Partee has nice summary about the formal semantics of relative clause http://people.umass.edu/partee/MGU_2005/MGU05Lec10.pdf (subordinate adjectival clause). E.g. At least one boy who Mary loves is ...
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"in relation to which" - what type of subordinated clause and is this conjunction somehow distinct?

I am trying to analyse the sentence: Building land is a plot of land in relation to which a construction permit has been issued. and my question is - what type of subordinated clause is introduced ...
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Are these phrases downward entailing?

Please consider the following phrases with respect to downward entailment: Mary remembers that French students saw her. Mary remembers that tall French students saw her. (in my opinion, this is not ...
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Connections between combinatory categorial grammars and abstract categorial grammars?

Are there connections/translation or common tools usage/adaptation between combinatory (concrete) categorial grammars (incl. Lambek calculus) and abstract categorial grammars? Can tools for one of ...
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What is the source of knowledge/discovery for the semantics? Automation of semantic science?

Natural sciences observe facts and make models. Mathematics more or less arbitrarly generates axioms and investigates all the possible consquences of them. What is the source of semantic knowledge (e....
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Formal semantics of subordinate clauses (compound sentences) - in categorial and type logical grammars?

I am trying to apply combinatory categorial grammars and type logical grammars (Montague semantics etc.) to the compound sentences and the subordinate clauses. Are there efforts to develop those ...
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Motivation behind the definition for existential quantifiers such as *some* in compositional semantics

Natural language quantifiers such as some and a are formalised for compositional semantics as λP.λQ.∃x.P(x)∧Q(x). Compared to the formalisation of quantifiers such as every or all I do not quite ...
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