Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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Is there a name for adding a question mark to a closed-ended answer? [closed]

I just used this in an answer to my manager, when asked how much time would some task take me to finish. I responded with "an hour?", my goal being to express uncertainty, because developers are the ...
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How would languages that use an absolute frame of reference say that the heart is on the left side of the body?

In languages that use a relative frame of reference we can say that the heart is on the left side of the body, and no matter what direction you are facing that is true. But in an absolute frame of ...
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What are linguistics foundations of how a message can be on topic?

What I am looking for Is there a linguistics perspective on a message being "on topic" or "off topic" in some context and/or something inbetween? Is there even a linguistics definition and research ...
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Is there a formal definition of the term meaning?

According to Wiktionary and Wikipedia, meaningfulness is "the state or measure of being meaningful", while meaningful is "having meaning, significant", while meaning is "the information or ...
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Has the notion of “semainophoric” structure been considered so far?

Semitic languages like Arabic use consonantic roots conveying meaning, like ktb which is related to writing. The vowels to be added to form a word vary and give a nuance to this general meaning. ...
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How to cite an edited book [closed]

I want to cite some articles directly in Semantics, Volume 2 by de Gruyter (2011). I wonder if each article in it is a journal or conference paper that can be cited directly. Otherwise, I should cite ...
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Etymological Fallacy

What is actually wrong with using Etymology to infer a word's meaning? I mean other than semantics( or more subtle meaning, nuance) of what other use could studying etymology be. I cannot see the ...
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Predicate logic and always?

How do I translate a sentence like this into predicate logic? Always if an amateur chef bakes a burnt cookie, then nobody eats that burnt cookie. My attempt is something like this ∀[chef’(x)∧ ...
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When turned “to hear” into “to belong” in Germanic Languages?

In most Germanic languages the verbs for „to hear“ and „to belong [to]“ are the same or very closely related. It seems a plausible explanation, that in practice belonging to someone (G. gehören) meant ...
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Semantic arguments of nouns

Consider the following NPs: [1] an alcohol ban [2] a cotton shirt Various discussions in CGEL would seem to imply the following: P: alcohol expresses a semantic argument of the head noun ban in [...
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How can a word for 'the act of Xing', semantically shift to mean 'the thing Xed'?

I don't grasp this Reddit comment. An example of (3) might be this (from a 15th-century will): I now the seid John Smyth, for diu[er]se causez and consyderacyonys shevyd vnto me, will ...
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How was excession expressed in Proto-Germanic?

The state of excession (of an adjective) is indicated differently accross Germanic languages. West Germanic Languages (E: too long, Du: te lang, G: zu lang) build it by the use of descendants from ...
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What is the meaning of “metaphorical sliding”

Can anyone please give a definition for a "metaphorical sliding"? I have problem understanding the "sliding" part. What exactly happens to this metaphor?
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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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Does this English exercise test syntactic or semantic knowledge of a student?

I am confused in how to distinguish a syntactically oriented language exercise from semantically oriented language exercise. For example, suppose a teacher gave the English exercise below to his ...
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Relationship between semantical understanding of a text and the level of language used in the text

I am a Machine Learning researcher who is doing research in the Natural Language Processing (NLP). I need better understanding about human language for my new research, so I decided to write this ...
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Is there an equivalent to “Turing completeness” for a spoken language? [duplicate]

I had read that some tribe in the Amazonian region speaks a language that lacks any number. So they would use "many" to describe more than say, 2 or 3 things. Hence for them, I suppose, 99 is the same ...
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What are the semantic functions of a complementizer phrase (CP)

What does semantic functions mean? and what are they for a CP? Thank you
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Can a semantic prime have a homophone which is also a semantic prime?

If semantic primes which are homophones exist, is it possible to create sentences which have perfectly valid interpretations which differ? I'm thinking of something like a "meaning" hash-collision ...
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Discrepancy between Classical Logic, Set Theory, Propositional Logic and Languages [closed]

In logic, "Or" strictly refers to logical disjuntion, while "And" strictly refers to logical conjuction. But in common parlance, both can fill the role of Logical Disjunction I understand that one ...
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Which are the social differences which lead to the variance in the way to address a person?

My question is: Which are the social differences which lead to the variance in the way to address a person? An example of the difference is T-V distinction some languages abolished it while others ...
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Is there a strict difference between syntax and semantics? [duplicate]

On many places I may read that syntax is about structure, and semantics is about meaning, and this makes sense. But, lets think of the canonical example Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. said ...
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“Indifferent” reference of specific indefinites?

There is a class of indefinites sometimes called "specific indefinites" that refer to one individual. For example: A man walked into a bar followed by two others. He ordered a drink. With this ...
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What semantic frameworks are there for computational linguistics?

Besides Frege's principle of compositionality are there any other philosophical frameworks of language to form distributional semantics in the English language? Edit - Although I'm still yet to ...
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Do some communities prefer indirect discourses to direct discourses?

Jamaliah Mohd. Ali, in her research paper, says, "the use of indirectness in communication is an important aspect of Malay community life because one of its main intentions is conflict avoidance" (...
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What words relate to thinking about possible events? (Could've Should've Would've) [closed]

I'm thinking about how the mind works, and how the mind dreams or simulates events. This seems to be an important part of how the brain works so it seems like we should have special words to describe ...
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Terminology/resources for descriptions like “…the other one…”

Suppose, e.g., that there are two brothers, Bob and Bill, that must do two things but it doesn't much matter which brother does which task. I am interested in constructions like the following: One ...
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Define “own” with more primitive linguistic concepts?

I am trying to define the concept of ownership or "having" with basic more primitive concepts. My first try is: I own X == Only I can take X But does the word take imply taking ownership of? So ...
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Is “parent” a hyponym or a meronym of “parents”?

A hyponym is a word or phrase whose semantic field is included within that of another word. A meronym denotes a constituent part of, or a member of something It can be said that "parents" is ...
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What are the recommended sources for research about conceptual metaphor?

I would like to find what have been done in research about conceptual metaphor. I've looked into some database, e.g. ERIC, Sciencedirect, WileyOnlineLibrary, JSTOR, Cambridgecore, Taylor&Francis, ...
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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 English words can not be motivated and are arbitrary? [closed]

What is the evidence for the arbitrariness of the sign? Continuing this question, what English words can not be motivated and should be considered arbitrary? I think only the natural meanings would ...
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What is the evidence for the arbitrariness of the sign?

The "arbitrariness of the sign" is a fundamental principle of modern linguistics: that is, that there's nothing intrinsic about the sound sequence [kʰæt̚] or the phoneme sequence /kæt/ that links it ...
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Agentive vs Intentional vs Volitional

What are the differences between these three terms? Agentivity Intentionality Volitionality If they have different definitions, could you provide examples where their values do not match? (For ...
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Was there a Proto-Germannic root of “miskunn”

I was not able to find an etymology of ON "miskunn" within PrG. Is the first syllable a prefix "mis-" indicating any "wrong kunn, lack of kunn" or a deformed "midi-" as in E "com-passion", G "Mit-leid"...
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Why do you call ideal wishes “dreams?” [duplicate]

One property of dreams, which you have when you sleep, is that they are not real but imaginary, and thus may give you unlikely experiences. In many languages throughout the world, not limited to ...
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What happened to *kweþana?

In a time when distinct Germanic dialects already existet in geographically diffenrent areas, the usual verbs to signal a following direct speech seem to be descendant of PrG „*kweþana“ in any dialect ...
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Semantics of a focus particle and Epistemic/Alethic Modality

I've been working on a paper which focuses on interaction of focus particle and epistemic/alethic modality in Turkish. Focus particle "de/da" in Turkish is a clitic and comes right after the word, ...
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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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Is there a term for the unit comprising a lexical item and its semantic role?

In a sentence such as "The man ate the cheese," man is a noun, with a definition in the lexicon, and is also the agent in the sentence. Is there a term for a unit that includes all of these components,...
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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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Is there a tendency to name money after other things?

Back in Spanish.StackExchange there was a question about the use of the word plata (literally "silver") in American dialects of Spanish instead of the proper word, dinero. European Spanish also avoids ...
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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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Standardized and ambiguity-free language

Is there exist a language (the natural or the constructed one) with a completely standardized and ambiguity-free rules, and which is suitable for the modern use? I am wondering for a language which ...
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Words that signal future content

Some content words signal that future content will likely follow. The words seem to act as a typing system for instances of the content. For example: "I have an idea." --> one expects the idea to ...
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What is it called to derive all the implied meanings from a sentence?

What would this process of gathering the meaning of a sentence be called? What would the segments derived from the sentence be called? "John and Derrek both love cake" -> John loves cake -&...
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In case the fregean distinction between “sense” and “ denotation” is used in linguistics, what purpose does it serve in this discipline?

I'm referring here to the distinction Frege made in his paper called " Sense and denotation". A classical example is " the morning star" and " the evening star" : different senses but same ...
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Can one avoid using the notion of meaning when defining syntax and pragmatics?

In an elementary course on philosophy of language ( at the highschool level) , I try to explain to students the distinction betweeen semantics, syntax and pragmatics. Referring myself to Carnap/...
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How to find which verbs are semantically-related to a given verb or noun?

I am looking for a way to know, a tool that tells me, that, for example, the verb to show is the ditransitive semantic extension of the verb to see, simply because to show X Y = to let X see Y. Let ...
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What is the intuition behind the term Transitive for verbs?

Why is a verb that takes an object called transitive? Why does that term make sense? The way I see it is that it extends its action to an object rather than limits it within the subject. I take this ...