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Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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Language as bijective function [duplicate]

In mathematics, bijective function is the function for which every one value of the argument corresponds to one and only one value of the function. Is there any language which would come close to ...
botanich's user avatar
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If we find homophones, how do we decide whether or not they are different words?

This seems to have an easy resolution for situations its perhaps semantically or syntactically obvious (like can as in container vs can, or no vs know) that we have more than one word. But I got to ...
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Assigning thematic roles

I am new to thematic roles (agent, thema, experiencer, patient, etc.) and need to assign thematic roles to the subject in some sentences. However, in a number of sentences I am unsure of the thematic ...
user45203's user avatar
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Semantic loans; words borrowing a meaning already there?

What exactly is a semantic loan, how can a word borrow a meaning it already has? I am trying to figure out whether there are any limitations (can we choose any morphemes) on the recipient word and the ...
George Ntoulos's user avatar
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English native intuitions about combining `only' with ellipsis

I am interested in the following sentence: Only Bill can fix his car and only Jack cannot where the universe includes Bill, Bill's car, Jack, Jack's car and optionally Jeff and Jeff's car. Also, his ...
thingsthatmighthavebeen's user avatar
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Are there semantically well-defined purely ternary+ relations?

By purely ternary+, I mean a relation that cannot be expressed using binary ones. For example, "B is closer to A than to C" is ternary, but can be expressed using only a binary relation. B ...
AnotherSherlock's user avatar
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Linguistic name for the change of meaning: 'apocalypse'in Greek New Testament meaning 'revelation' and the present use meaning 'catastrophy, etc

The first word in John's "Revelation" is a Greek word 'apokalipsis'. Yet, in modern times the word 'apocalypse' and its equivalents in many languages means 'catastrophe', 'tragedy', etc. So ...
Wieslaw's user avatar
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What effect does the wrong T-V pronoun have on truth-value?

Suppose someone uses the wrong T-V pronoun in a sentence, e.g. a French person uses "tu" instead of "vous". Is that considered to render the sentence (a) false or (b) without truth-...
Remster's user avatar
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What is the semantic type and the lexical entry for 'to be right'?

Does somebody know what the lexical entry for '(be) right' is? And the semantic type of 'right' when its in the syntax tree. Is it an attitude predicate? For example in the sentence 'Beth is right ...
Lea's user avatar
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Do all tautologies mean the same thing in Formal Semantics?

Since all tautologies share the same truth condition, that they're true no matter what, do all of them mean the same thing in Formal Semantics? Or does Formal Semantics analyze meaning beneath the ...
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Formal syntax and semantics for Turkish

as a student of linguistics and admirer of Turkish, I wondered whether there are good introductory books for formal syntax and (Montague) semantics for Turkish. Thanks in advance!
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How do you attest that two modal particles in different languages are of similar semantic attributes?

especially fellow English-Dutch speakers. I am wondering as to how we can attest that two modal particles in different languages share similar semantic attributes. Is there any metrics/theories to ...
pindakazen's user avatar
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Is there a reason why certain verbs use certain cases?

For examples, in German there are certain verbs that always use the dative cases and others that always use the accusative case. Is there a logical or semantical reason for this? Does the use of a ...
Agustin G.'s user avatar
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How do people discussing NSM primes ensure they're thinking of the same meanings?

Natural Semantic Metalanguage sets out number of semantic primes. A semantic prime is a meaning which cannot be reduced to a combination of simpler meanings. The Wikipedia article has a table of them, ...
MadEmperorYuri's user avatar
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Why "Location" but not "Theme"?

When I was reading "Semantics: A Coursebook" (2nd ed), I came across this semantic roles identifying exercise "Detroit is a big city. The answer key is that "Detroit" is ...
Nora's user avatar
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Semantic roles "Location" or "Goal"?

In this sentence: "We've just arrived at the airport." Is the semantic role of "the airport" Goal (because the airport is the destination where we moved to) or Location (because we ...
Nora's user avatar
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Metastasizing attributes of a member of a class to a class, in cognitive grammar

I would like to know if there is a theoretical analysis regarding how people cognitively process information about, and form judgments about, a class of things, based on knowledge of specific members ...
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
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Is "non-existent" a privative adjective?

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privative_adjective Is "non-existent" a privative adjective like "imaginary", "fictional", "hypothetical", etc.?
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To say of something, must it exist at least as a concept?

To refer to x, must x exist at least as a concept? Is there any sense in which a nonsense term can refer to anything? For example, If "Round square" doesn't refer to anything, is "I ...
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Having a hard time distinguishing between the simple and perfective aspects

It seems to me that the truth conditions for "David baked cookies" are identical to "David has baked cookies," in that both are true if at some moment of time in the past "...
m. lekk's user avatar
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Semantics and Coordination

Is coordination only governed by syntax? What about sentences like "I am afraid of and independent of him"? Is there nothing odd about it? The coordinated element is a PP, so it conforms to ...
Shpekard's user avatar
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What is the relationship between complement, adjunct, argument and modifier?

For the terminology used in linguistic papers, it is quite confusing. It seems that [complement] and [adjunct] are a pair of concepts that are often distinguished from each other. However, sometimes, ...
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On an argument concerning whether weather *it* is truly an expletive

Morgan (1968) claims that many instances of unstressed it are meaningless. He offers the following argument: the pronoun he in (1a) can refer to either John or Bill but the gap in (1b) can only refer ...
Deep_Television's user avatar
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By what mechanism do `want` and `know` fail to form commands?

Verbs like want and know seem to resist being used in imperative constructions. In particular, it does not seem possible to use them to command people to change their mind about what they want or to ...
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What is the difference between attributive adjective and predicative adjective?

When I began to read articles related to English adjectives, I often encountered these two names: "predicative adjectives" and "attributive adjectives". It seems that the author ...
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Is there a "Range" Phrase?

Is anyone aware of any discussion in linguistics of the possibility of a "range" phrase? As I tentatively conceive of the range phrase, a true range phrase refers to a readily identifiable ...
Matthew Rips's user avatar
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The Power of Word Choice in Changing Perceptions

I am looking for any studies, research, or theories about how choosing particular words or descriptions can lead to perceptual changes and judgements. This would be like loaded or emotive language. ...
Jason Esposito's user avatar
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Question on the semantics of perfective form

I learn that in English, accomplishment predicates in the simple past (perfective) form usually entail that the event has reached its culmination point and the theme has entered into the result state. ...
Yili Xia's user avatar
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Are there two senses of "grammar" with respect to semantics?

Are there two senses of "grammar"? Is it correct that in linguistics, semantics (and maybe also pragmatics) belongs to and is specified in grammar? (My impression from limited reading of a ...
Tim's user avatar
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What are the semantics of questions and requests/commands?

In linguistics, is it correct that statement i.e. declarative clause (sentence) has a truth value (true or false or maybe other value?) i.e. logic as its semantics? What does a question (yes-no, or ...
Tim's user avatar
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Does the function of a clause belong to semantics or syntax?

In linguistics, is it correct that a clause is classified according to its function into declarative/statement, interrogative/question (yes-no, or content one), and imperative/request/command? Does ...
Tim's user avatar
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Is situational context of discourse analysis widely accepted?

I really need to know how widely {situational context of discourse analysis} is accepted as legitimate across linguists. Is it widely acknowledged that ignoring {situational context} can result in the ...
polcott's user avatar
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Is there any way to describe how languages are typically spoken, like there is a way to describe grammar?

In English, when ordering food, you'd say "I would like x," not "Please let me purchase x," even though both are grammatically correct. You can say that "I would be liking x&...
dogdan99's user avatar
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Is there a descriptive term for the demonstrative pronoun "that" which conveys the underlying notion of pointing to something *out there*?

I have read (somewhere) that the demonstrative pronoun describes something outside or away from the observer and that this has a descriptive term, philosophically not as a grammar term. That out there....
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What does Salikoko Mufwene mean with regards to #3 on the progressive aspect?

From Wikipedia: Salikoko Mufwene contrasts the effect of the progressive form on the meanings of action verbs versus those of lexically stative verbs: It converts events expected to be punctual into ...
Fomalhaut's user avatar
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In absolute numerical terms, what is the computational size of human language, particularly semantic processing?

What is a numerical estimate for the “RAM” of the human brain required to actually compute resolutions of the semantic content of sentences? For example, consider there is an algorithm that expends 1 ...
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
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Do the subjects of verbs such as "watch," "listen for," and "read" stand for agents, experiencers, both, or something else?

one: It’s well-known that the subjects of different verbs in different contexts can take subjects that have different semantic roles. For example, in the sentence “Jill ate a hamburger,” “Jill” ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
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What is a leading framework for describing world-states?

In light of this article: Mondal, Prakash. "Towards a unified representation of linguistic meaning" Open Linguistics, vol. 9, no. 1, 2023, pp. 20220225. https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2022-022 ...
Julius Hamilton's user avatar
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1 answer
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Does Swedish "varje" have both distributive and collective readings?

"Varje" is often translated as "each" or "every" in English. However, "each" and "every" have different uses in regard to collectivity/distributivity....
kg5425's user avatar
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Why words are the basic building blocks of language?

I'm asking this both in the sense that for me (as a human) words seem to be the fundamental building blocks of language, and from the perspective of NLP applications, where word-vectors and word-...
Maverick Meerkat's user avatar
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Are there any natural languages that have one or more morphemes that each stand for both "other(s)" and "more"?

I've been working on the quantifiers for a conlang of mine and noticed that the concepts "other" and "more" are each related to the notion of additional quantities. So, we have ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
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How does an opaque context come about in adverbials?

I cannot get my head around examples (19) and (20) in Maienborn & Schäfer (2011) (in v. Heusinger, Maienborn & Portner (eds), HSK 33.2). How is it that necessarily (as an epistemic adverbial) ...
Mat's user avatar
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How to interpret Givón's (1981) implicational scale for indefinite articles developed from numeral 'one'?

I'm having trouble understanding the implicational scale for indefinite articles developed from numeral 'one' given by T Givón (1981: 50-52). T. Givón in his paper "On the development of the ...
Mrloory's user avatar
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Are there any thesauruses or publications that deal with the differentiation of near-synonyms in native/aboriginal/endangered languages?

I'm looking for any publications or thesauruses that deal with the differentiation of near-synonyms in any of the endangered/native languages (especially something that deals with a large chunk of the ...
Slavus's user avatar
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Canonical treatment of tense and modality within formal semantics

I'm thinking about expressions like "Ronit must have won the game," where we have an intersection of tense and modality. Conventional wisdom is to use Kratzer's notion of ordering source and ...
m. lekk's user avatar
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To what extent can the prosody factors influence the literal meanings or not at all

My question is whether or not the prosody factors can change the literal meanings of the propositions. The pragmatics is not considered in this case. I would very much appreciate it if someone gives ...
Yili Xia's user avatar
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How to show the difference between the opaque reading and the transparent reading via syntax?

Is there any way using any version of Generative Grammar (EST, REST, GB, MP) to show the difference between "the transparent reading" and "the opaque reading" of the same line ...
Vadim's user avatar
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Besides Indo-Pacific and Australian languages does anywhere "firewood" semantically develop to "fire"?

It is known that in Australian languages the word for "tree" developed into "firewood" and then to "fire". I wonder if this development typical? Particularly, could PIE *...
Anixx's user avatar
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Are argument clauses and verbal expressions individual constants or individual variables (or perhaps individual predicate-argument constants)?

I am studying first order predicate logic in the context of formal semantics for natural language. Propositions are understood in terms of predicates and their arguments. A given predicate takes 0 to ...
Buffoon's user avatar
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Any examples of any language bifurcating the past into past before one's life and past during one's life?

It can be either from a conlang or a natlang but I wasn't able to find any examples.
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