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Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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Are there languages that can speak of continous things without discretizing them?

All languages I know of discretize qualities when trying to describe them. For example, languages generally sample a few words for describing a range of continous things like feelings ('terrible', '...
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Is there a specific linguistic term for the following practice of constructing new words/characters?

I have in mind examples such as the Scheingallizismus (lit. appearance of Gallicism) in German which are words/phrases constructed from French origins but are themselves unknown in French speaking ...
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Grammar induction from grammaticality rules

Let's have formalisation of grammaticality judgments in some deduction system. Is it possible to learn/induce grammar from rules that govern grammaticality judgments? Is there theory, that connects ...
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Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

tl;dr Linguists like to claim that the mapping from sounds to word meanings is mostly arbitrary. Can you point out research that supports this claim? Specificllay I am looking for hard evidience in ...
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Parsing with CCGs - lambda part

I am following this video tutorial, starting 6th minute I would like to parse the following sentence square blue or round yellow pillow. For now I am interested in only how square and blue are ...
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1answer
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Does this sentence have two meanings?

The sentence is Some employee must leave. I was told that it is actually ambiguous and has two meanings. But I can only see one. What are the two meanings?
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NLTK interface to Boxer

I came across the following code: NLTK interface to Boxer Does anybody know where I can find how to use this interface (examples) or any additional documentation?
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Has there been any development or long lasting influence of Leonard Talmy's work?

I've read some of Talmy's work particularly that of his semantic analysis of the spatial organization inherent in the meaning of prepositions like "across","around" or "over" among others. I've found ...
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Are there languages without idioms?

Speakers of about any language but English agree that the idea that it may be raining cats and dogs is preposterous. But the same people do understand what an idiom is, and their own language may have ...
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Sememe and semanteme

I'm not sure I understand what is the relationship between sememes and semantemes. I have the following definitions : A sememe is a semantic content of a lexeme. A semanteme is a unit ...
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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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Status of the determiner “any”

In "Mathematical Methods in Linguistics" by Partee, Meulen and Wall (1990), it is stated on page 385 that the determiner any has been a notorious problem for semantic analysis, since it is sometimes ...
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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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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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1answer
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Do reborrowings and neologisms statistically help the communicative function of the languages or do the cause more confusion?

Rephrasing do reborrowings and neologisms help or bedim the communications? I am making the distinction of instantaneous or contemporary communications(especialy for scientific use and social) and ...
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How do languages with negative concord express the actual negation of negative polarity items?

This is something I started wondering while working on formal logic, but I'm having trouble finding any papers that address it. Obviously, the standard way to express negation with a polarity item in ...
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Pre language concepts

I'm interested if there's a field of study, or some popular papers, that try to map the thought concepts/constructs that precedes (or succeeds) words, sentences and basically languages. Maybe as a sub-...
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Are there languages with no euphemisms?

I feel that euphemisms are a function of how society views certain aspects of life and feels that they should not be talked about directly. So are there languages with no euphemisms?
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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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Departments/research centers in formal semantics

I'm not sure whether this is considered off-topic, and if it is, then I'll delete my question. The question is: what are some strong departments specialized in formal semantics? I know in the US, ...
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Does each verb have a corresponding noun with the same meaning

I believe that each main verb has (at least) one corresponding noun with the same meaning that is formed from gerund and derivation. For examples, discovery is from discover; reading is from read; ...
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Words which originate in superstition/myth [closed]

I'm interested in words, from any language, whose etymological origin 'exposes' superstitious or scientifically obsolete beliefs. For example, the English disaster comes from Latin dis- + astro, ...
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1answer
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Get Prolog (other functional programming language) rules/facts from LKB or similar system

My goal is to take simple sentence such as Grass is green and convert it to Prolog rule/fact. It does not have to be Prolog, but any other functional programming language with which I can perform ...
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What is the difference between directive function and informational function of a language?

In Geoffery Leech, Chapter 4, Semantics The Study of Meaning, It is written that "The third function of language is the directive function whereby we aim to influence the behaviour and attitudes ...
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How long in a language several words for the same notion can coexist?

Sometimes a language can have several words for the same notion. How long such a situation can last? Is it good for a language to have it? Should language bearers and linguists do something about it? ...
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Density of information/semantic of Chinese and Korean language versus european languages

Some years ago I had read an interesting article about how much information chinese people could put in one tweet of 140 characters. But I cannot find again this article. I'm interested in having ...
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Problem Set Solutions to 'Semantics in Generative Grammar' (Heim & Kratzer)?

I'm working through Heim and Kratzer's 1998 textbook 'semantics in generative grammar' (Blackwell), which I understand is fairly standard for university level courses on semantics, but I can't find ...
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How relevant is WordNet nowadays?

How relevant is WordNet (both the original Princeton's and all other WordNets) as a tool for researchers now, decades later? Do researchers consider it valuable? And does the general research ...
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Can the need for ambiguity lead to merge of grammatical person, or other semantic merge?

My mother tongue doesn't distinguish 3.SG.F and 3.SG.M in speech. In some cases I feel the redundancy of it and the need for ambiguity of the grammatical person when I speak a language which ...
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Do grammatically close languages tend to begin to use literal translations of some words in other senses in that other language?

Let's have an English phrase "let's have" and the Czech equivalent "mějme". Perhaps, at some point in the past, someone was translating a math textbook and didn't know how to translate "let's have" in ...
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Partitioning concept space: deep-shallow dichotomy

Some words, like run, get, advance, etc... are "deep" in semantic structure. Other words (mostly names) like Japanese, French, tapir, strychnine, etc... are "shallow" in semantic structure. And some ...
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2answers
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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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1answer
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Hand gesture - Patting

I apologize if the following question is off-topic on this site. Some time ago, I was sitting at a table in a cafeteria/canteen. A few tables away, I saw someone I knew. This person also saw me and ...
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Can we parse the hell out of this construction?

John only had the Ferrari for three months, but while he had it, he drove the hell out of it. I'm pretty sure I aced the hell out of that test. That last stuff you got us, we smoked the hell out of it....
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How to define colors in the Natural Semantic Metalanguage?

The Natural Semantic Metalanguage (NSM) attempts to reduce the semantics of all lexicons down to a restricted set of semantic primitives. But in NSM, colors are not semantic primitives. How then to ...
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All that glitters is confusing!

"All that is gold does not glitter" "Not all that is gold glitters" The first phrase appears in Lord of the Rings, modified from Shakespeare, and contextually implies that "Aragorn is vastly more ...
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Is pragmatics a waste basket?

Is pragmatics a waste basket? this sentence is abstracted from the study of language of Yule. I want to know why this statement comes into being( pragmatics is a waste basket.) And is it really true? ...
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non-variable semantics of reflexives, need help

I'm reading various books on semantics (writing my first paper on semantics) however this book that was recommended to me by Heim & Kratzer has tricky questions with no answer guide, I looked ...
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Markers that affect intensity of the imperative mood

I'm working on a project that explores how imperative mood varies in 'intensity'. For example, one can 'soften' the tone of a directive by including the speaker in the command: "Let's go to school"...
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What books to read about lexical semantics?

I want to have a systematic understanding on semantic field, lexical semantics, and semantic change. Skimming at Kate Kearns' Semantics, it seems that its focus is more about formal semantics, with ...
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How to determine entity relationships for a proper noun

Apologies if I am using the wrong terminology I am starting a pet project using R to determine the associations for a Proper Noun For example I would like to see all the associations with the name '...
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NSM explication for 'left'?

How would the NSM explicate the word 'left'? As in, 'the table is to my left'. I just cannot think of any way to do it using the current 65 primes.
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How does the Natural Semantic Metalanguage deal with proper names?

The natural semantic metalanguage gives definitions of common words in terms of semantic primes, as can be found here. I am curious, however, as to how the NSM deals with proper names (or does it?) ...
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Triggering emotions with language

Emotional responses to certain words is often argued to be a result of nurture(acquired through development), while emotional responses to Tone is largely attributable to nature(born with). Shouldn't ...
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Are people's names considered morphemes of a language?

For example, is "Donald" a morpheme of the English language? I can see reasons for and against. Reasons for: It allows us to say stuff like "a language is a function from sequences of morphemes of ...
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Where can I find an analysis of the semantic overlap of English “to have” and “with”?

For years I've understood via my native speaker intuition and my interest in languages and linguistics that the preposition "with" can carry the semantic meaning of the verb "to have". The man who ...
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Algorithm for identifying “secondary roots”

In machine learning on text data (aka natural language processing), it's common to apply a stemming or lemmatization algorithm to the text. However, sometimes you want to go a step further. For ...
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What is the view of prototype theory regarding features?

For example, the most prototypical exemplars of bird is robin, the least ones are ostrich or penguin. But since it rejects the classical theory (aka the necessary and sufficient conditions), I think ...
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No Semantic Prime For Forming A Question?

"Huh", or some variant of it, is universal. http://huh.ideophone.org/ Yet, I see no word for forming a question in the list of semantic primes. There's "when/time", "where/place", but no "huh" or "...
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What's the difference between 'concept' and 'meaning'?

Like in the title, are concepts expressed only by some parts of the speech: nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs ? In sentence: The cat ate food - all words are concepts or only the noun ? All those ...