Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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21
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7answers
1k views

What divides semantics from pragmatics?

To my understanding... Semantics is the raw meaning and connotations a word carries on it's own and pragmatics is the context-dependent meaning a word holds. Is this accurate? Can anyone explain it ...
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2answers
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What is the minimal set of words that make a language “complete”?

In programming languages, there is a concept of turing completeness - whenever a system reaches "turing completeness", it is capable of emulating any programming language and, thus, as expressive as ...
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Textbook suggestions for syntax, semantics/pragmatics and phonetics/phonology

I am coming to linguistics from a completely non-linguistic background; I was a mathematician. Next year I will start taking some serious (Master's level) linguistics courses and I would like to have ...
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3answers
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Textbooks in Formal Semantics / Montague semantics

I'm looking for a cheap, thorough but reasonably accessible introduction to formal semantics. There appear to be lots of options on the market. I assume there are plenty of experts in formal semantics ...
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3answers
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How do 'semantics' and 'meaning' differ?

Having read the following, I know that 'semantics' is a hyponym of semiotics, and semiotics a hyponym of 'meaning'. But the semblance of interchangeability between 'meaning' and 'semantics' in certain ...
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4answers
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Which languages conflate (imperfective) past and irrealis, and why?

In English, the "simple past" form of a verb can sometimes be used to convey irrealis meanings, without any preterite sense: If I was rich, I'd buy a Porsche. If you only knew! I wish I was there ...
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4answers
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Using the word “dream” as hope for the future across languages

Many languages seem to use the same word for "dream" (psychological phenomenon) and "dream" (hope for the future). Quick scanning on Wiktionary gives the list: Germanic languages: Danish (drøm), ...
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3answers
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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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1answer
343 views

Can the entropy per word be caculated precisely?And relation among information theory, semantics, and pragmatics

What we have gotten about the expected per word entropy of random yet grammatical text is just some upper bound of the the expected per word entropy, because we have not found the exact way to compute ...
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7answers
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Do other languages distinguish the verbs “to drink” when talking about alcohol?

It's interesting that English uses the verb "to drink" intransitively exclusively when talking about alcohol, as in: I drink a lot. But transitively when talking about anything else, as in: I ...
7
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1answer
380 views

What are the differences between theoretical perspectives of the uses of the term “register”?

I'd be interested in asking people about their understanding of the term register and what this signifies for them. This would be a discussion about a specialised term and I'm sure there are multiple ...
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3answers
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Most succinct written language

I am wondering what the most succinct written language is. I would call one language more succinct than another if that language could communicate the same idea as another with fewer characters. I ...
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5answers
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What is the relationship between syntax and semantics?

There are a number of positions you can take on what the relationship between syntax and semantics. You could think that syntax is prior and so think that an expression's syntactic function ...
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3answers
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Mathematical foundations of formal semantics in linguistic

First, I asked this on math.stackexchange, someone recommended to go here. I am looking for information on the mathematical foundations of formal semantics in linguistic. After some time, I found ...
3
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3answers
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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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4answers
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Does any language use bound morphology to express the concept “less”?

In English, many adjectives support the -er ending to express a notion of exceeding: John is taller than Mary (is). Mary is smarter than John (is). Of course, you can also have the more analytic ...
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3answers
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What is the relationship between lambda calculus and logical form?

I was first introduced to lambda calculus as a way to use syntax to compose the semantic value of a phrase from the semantic values of the components of that phrase. Lambda calculus does more than ...
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1answer
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the difference between upward and downward entailment

How does one show the difference of an upward entailment between that of a downward entailment? I have tried doing examples where the negative polarity item is moved from the verb phrase to the noun ...
3
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1answer
604 views

Semantics of ordinary language mathematical claims?

Can anyone point me towards some good work on the semantics of ordinary language mathematical claims? Any tips would be greatly appreciated. For example, when a geometer says of Euclidean geometry "...
11
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3answers
540 views

Are different “aspects” of a Polish verb the same lexeme or different lexemes?

Polish verbs have two "aspects", imperfective and perfective, which means you use a different word depending on whether the activity you're describing is ongoing or habitual, or if it's definite or ...
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0answers
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Do “only if…” and “if… only then…” have the same LF representation?

I'm currently writing a term paper where I am comparing if... then..., only if..., and if... only then... statements. I've noticed that only if p q and if p, only then q have the same truth conditions ...
9
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2answers
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What is the scope of negation?

A recent question posed by another user observed that the following sentence is ambiguous: (1) Arthur does not discipline his children because he loves them. This sentence can mean either that ...
7
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1answer
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Thematic roles in some languages

I have a question about semantic roles in Latin and Russian. Latin Quibusdam […] sudor erumpit. someone. DAT.PL sweat. NOM.SG come out.PRES.3SG. ‘Some people start sweating.’ ...
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1answer
562 views

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 ...
3
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1answer
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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 ...
3
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1answer
288 views

Truth-conditions of predicate-logic formulas for donkey sentences

I'm current learning about compositional semantics, quantifier raising and scope ambiguity in my semantics class and I'm having trouble answering some questions. I've attempted to answer the questions ...
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2answers
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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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1answer
840 views

How are affirmation, causality, similarity, time, etc… connected?

6 months after asking my original question, I still cannot see any of the connections declared as 'easy to see' or 'not difficult to see' here. The problem is with your assumption that the senses ...
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2answers
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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 ordeyne and ...
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3answers
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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 ...
6
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1answer
269 views

Where did the semantic categories of C. D. Buck's dictionary of synonyms come from?

The 22 categories of words used in Carl Darling Buck's "A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages" (1949) are quite different from for instance the categories in Roget'...
4
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2answers
330 views

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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2answers
205 views

How can we use the same word in multiple different ways and distinguish the senses so easily?

Say for example some plant names. We have an orange which we easily know is a fruit, but is also a color. We have green which is a color, and greens which is plants, or money, or I could imagine it ...
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1answer
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What do you understand by the term 'register'? [duplicate]

I'd be interested in asking people about their understanding of the term register and what this signifies for them. This would be a discussion about a specialised term and I'm sure there are multiple ...
1
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3answers
685 views

On donkey sentences: why is this formalization incorrect?

Part of the difficulty surrounding donkey sentences, to my understanding, is about how hard they are to translate to FOL in a matter that is consistent with other translations to FOL in english. Take ...
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1answer
62 views

Are words in form of verbs and adjectives abstract concepts

There are concrete (like tree, dog) and abstract concepts (like war, love etc.). I see that concept is expressed as a noun, but what about other parts of speech (verbs, adjectives, etc.)? Are they ...
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1answer
71 views

Relationship of senses across parts of speech

We can have two words which describe a similar concept but have different parts of speech, for example live V, life N. I live well. Semantically similar or arguably equivalent construction: My ...
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1answer
87 views

What underlying semantic notions connect 'less' to 'not'? [closed]

What underlying notions explain this same semantic shift from 'less' to 'not' (ie: negation)? It appears in all 4 languages below, as evidenced by the Spanish and Portuguese synonymy. I know that in ...