Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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“Exorcised” vs. “exercised” as a synonym for “agitated” [migrated]

I saw this sentence in the NYT and thought it was incorrect but now I'm not so sure: "That's part of the political calculation that has party benefactors and leaders exercised." My thought was that "...
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25 views

The semantics of grammatical transformations?

Please see the following: We start with a sentence/clause like - Mr Wilkins is the oldest person in the village. It seems like we can "transform" the clause using certain "grammatical rules": Mr ...
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Semantic category of [VERB] + as a + [NOUN]

I have the following examples from a corpus (ICNALE corpus) "They can grow as a member of society." "At university, students are regarded as adults not children." "I worked in a hotel as a service ...
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40 views

Difference between intonation and tonality?

I have used them interchangeably, but I think that might be wrong. So, is this understanding of the distinction correct? Tonality is pitch affecting semantics (like the Chinese langauge), and ...
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2answers
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Allowed surface locations of [+wh] phrases apparently depend on semantics—if so, how and why?

Consider Harvey's machine can resemble a human completely or not at all. 1a) ... The extent to which it resembles a human is determined by its software. 1b) ... To which extent it ...
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Do nouns in simple apposition semantically unpack to predicate nominatives in English?

A Koine Greek grammar states that nouns in simple apposition are semantically understood as predicate nominatives. So, "Paul the apostle" unpacks to "Paul is the apostle" and "the apostle is Paul" ...
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Do most semanticists maintain that there is a distinction between secondary agents and tools?

I've heard some people say that there are two types of instrument: secondary agents and tools. A secondary agent is something that accomplishes a task when the agent wields it. So we CAN say ...
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What is the semantic term for the things that the single arguments of reflexive and reciprocal verbs stand for?

In my native English, the first argument in "Mary feeds her pigs" stands for an agent, and the second stands for a patient. But what about the arguments in reflexive and reciprocal clauses in single-...
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Does any of these sentences entail the other?

Does any of these sentences entail the other one? My last name is Jones. My father's last name was Jones.
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How do I write the predicate logic notation for a proposition containing a plural argument?

I need to translate a sentence with an indefinite plural object, as in "I eat apples" to predicate logic notation. If I write it as EAT(i, a), how will the plurality of the argument be accounted for (...
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Are these examples of Broken English, Pidgin English, or something else entirely?

I'm wondering if these are examples of broken English, pidgin English, or something else entirely? If they're not broken English or pidgin English, than, what are they? "very good this shiver and ...
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38 views

Is it possible to construct a language that is not semantically ambiguous?

I understand that several work has been done in regards to constructing languages that are both lexically and syntactically non ambiguous such as lojban. Is it possible to extend the work to eliminate ...
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Determining the semantic “complexity” of a grammar computationally from text

I'm working on a computational text analysis project which uses ngram data from journal articles, and I'm trying to find a way to measure some aspect of the semantic "complexity" of the grammar in one ...
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What is the entailment of this sentence?

I found that most of the examples of entailment are statements about a third person, but never the speakers themselves. So I wonder what the utterance like "I'm cold." entails?
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Compositional Semantics of relative clauses

How do relative pronouns (which, who, invisible which= WH) fit into a sentences compositionality? Given that relative clauses modify Noun Phrases, I'd expect them to be of type <et,<et>> ...
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981 views

How do we know that abstract words mean the same thing to all of us?

When a baby is learning a language some words must be easier to grasp. You show them a banana and say "This is a banana." You show them a train and say "This is a train." But how can we really be sure ...
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1answer
75 views

Sentence ambiguitiy

The sentence “Why did everyone’s father think that Tom said that you were fired?” is supposedly ambiguous in three different ways. However, I can’t seem to get any ambiguous reading from it. I have ...
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Relation between entailment and semantic features

From my textbook: According to this theory, the truth of "I saw a boy" entails the truth of "I saw a child" because "boy" has all the semantic features of "child" plus its distinct features. But I ...
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What's the difference between connotative meaning and connotation?

I'm reading an introduction about Geoffrey Leech's seven types of meaning, and confused by the definition of connotative meaning. According to Wikipedia: The connotative meanings of an expression ...
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Reduce the number of semantic primes

I was reading up on the semantic primes and I have the impression that the list is too long. Indeed, if one were to add the term OPPOSITE, GOOD could be OPPOSITE BAD, DIE would be OPPOSITE LIVE and ...
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Etymology of some Romance languages' verbs meaning “to sleep”

Portuguese, Spanish and French dormir, Italian dormire etc. come from the Latin verb dormīo. Wiktionary's entry says that its etymology is: From Latin dormīre, present active infinitive of dormiō, ...
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Compositional semantic: Type of conjunctions

My question is in regard to semantic type theory in connection with syntax. I understand the underlying structure of what type a certain type of phrase is ( i.e., proper names are <e>, verbs can ...
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Is the connection between 'right' in the sense of direction and concepts like 'correct' limited to Indo-European languages?

I'm now familiar with enough Indo-European languages to know in almost all of them there's an etymological connection or outright homonymy between the word(s) for 'right' in the sense of direction and ...
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Proto-Indo-European words for moon? [closed]

There are two words for moon in Proto-Indo-European, *lówksneh (cognate with 'lunar'), and *méhns (cognate with 'moon' and 'month'). I think that *lówksneh means "a shining moon" and is more common, ...
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What is meaning according to Saussure?

Did Ferdinand de Saussure define meaning in his Course in General Linguistics?
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Acyclic Graph of Definitions of a Language

Given a certain language L, let's define it's language graph G as the graph where nodes correspond to words and a directed edge between node B and node A implies that the word referenced by B belongs ...
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64 views

What is the semantic relationship of the words 'ask' and 'tell'?

I'm not quite sure which of these semantic relationships it would be: Synonymy, Hyponymy, Hypernymy, and Antonymy. Or would there be no semantic relationship between these words?
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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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Is this an example of the third person? [closed]

Suppose Alice says to Bob, "I cook dinner with Bob." Is Alice talking about Bob in the third person?
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Why don't modern Romance languages have the verb “to stand”?

I noticed that modern Romance languages don't have a specific word for the verb "to stand", or - you could say - don't consider the notion of standing to be a verb. For example, in Spanish - you can ...
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What word category do twink, adonis, muse etc. belong to? [closed]

Terms such as candy, cutie, honey, princess, diamond, queen(?), stud and bunny are terms of endearment (these terms are often used in a relationship to show affection and may also be used, with ...
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49 views

Two meanings of “Someone believes everyone to be invited”

Carnie claims in his syntax book that the sentence Someone believes everyone to be invited has two meanings. I can see only one (when the existential quantifier has scope over universal one: when ...
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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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69 views

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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50 views

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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202 views

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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77 views

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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