Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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Phonological parallel of a Lexical Decision Task

Lexical Decision Tasks have been used in psycholinguistics for long. It basically asks the participant if the word shown is meaningful (e.g. GIRL) or not (e.g. GISL) (ref: link). But does a test like ...
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What's it called? Indicating no exceptions to the rule

In my study of an ancient language, I’m seeing certain phrasing that, in a prescription of proper behavior, means emphatically: “without exception!” My question is: Do linguists have a label for this ...
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Automatic sentence negation

I am looking for an automatic sentence negation tool. Something that will be able to perform conversions like: "this ball is large" ---> "this ball is small" "you should ...
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What's the difference between logical modality and epistemic modality?

Logical modality includes logical necessity and logical possibility, while epistemic modality includes epistemic necessity and epistemic possibility. But when I read the explanation of these concepts ...
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How do we explain to material implication?

According to Kearns (2011), for material implication, if p is false, q is true, then p->q is true. One example is given like this, p = Marie invited John, q = John will go. It can be translated ...
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What is the difference between theta-role, theta-grid and argument?

I know that theta-role has the distinctions like agent, theme, goal, etc., but all of them refer to entity, right? And argument can refer to both entity and sentence? Could you please explain them as ...
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Why is the intension of a sentence the set of all possible worlds in which it is true?

In Chapter 1 Section 1.3.3 in Kearns (2011), as for the extension and intension for sentence, Midge is grinning, the extension is "truth value (true or false) in the actual world", and the ...
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How to express “he died” as a state transition not as an action

Original post I've always had a problem with the construction "he died". It is in the active voice, implying that he actively did something. He didn't actively do anything, of course. He ...
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Why is the descriptive quantitative expression coincident with the expression of possession in many languages?

One kind of descriptive expression is the description of quantity. Below are some examples of descriptive expression of time: English: an hour's journey Chinese: yixiaoshi de lucheng Japanese: ...
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What's the term for quantizing weight, light, size and so on? [migrated]

Some examples: size: micro, tiny, small, medium, large, huge, gigantic temperature: freezing, cold, chilly, cool, warm, hot brightness: dark, dim, light, bright weight: light, heavy What are these ...
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Some questions about the basic concepts in semantics

According to the Semantics (Kate Kreans, 2011), there are two kinds of denotation for predicates. For example, the word 'dog', has extension (the set of all dogs in the actual world), and intension (...
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What do we call the object in the relation of denotation?

If the relation between an object and the expression is denotation, is the object also called referent?
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Do the two meanings of “badass” belong to pragmatics or semantics?

As far as I know, pragmatics is about context-dependent meanings and semantics is about literal i.e. context-independent meanings. For example, https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/badass says: badass (...
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Is formal semantics useful for computational linguistics and NLP?

I browsed the table of content of Cann's Formal Semantics. Cann's book is for linguistics, and am I right that it is helpful for computational linguistics and natural language processing? But it also ...
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Across languages, what, if any, syntactic or semantic differences distinguish compound verbs from serial verb constructions?

Across languages, what semantic or syntactic differences distinguish serial verb constructions from compound verbs? Let's disregard phonological differences for the purposes of this question. Let's ...
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Tools for converting text to logical form

What's the State of the Art in software for converting text to some sort of logical form? Pros and con's of different packages approaches, if more than one exists?
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Is there evidence that English speakers associate black with bad and/or white with good

Prompted by the recent move towards replacing the terms "blacklist" and "whitelist", I wonder if there is research around the topic of how people feel about the words "black&...
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A question about connotation meaning and denotation meaning

Here is a word, "flightless" which means "(of a bird or an insect) naturally unable to fly". So should we say it refers to the word's denotation meaning or connotation meaning? ...
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Comparing the crude geographical names in different regions?

I walked past a well called the old piss recently, and saw a street called the poop. I was surprised. So i studied google maps for places called "the piss" and "the poop" in ...
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Are there single-word and generally accepted terms for the referents of the arguments in comparative clauses?

AFAIK, in any statement comparing two entities, there are typically at least three terms: NPa stands for the thing compared VG stands for nature of comparison NPb stands for the thing that the ...
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What's the name of the process in which a word acquires new meanings?

I am almost sure there is a proper name for that but I forgot. It would be the opposite of semantic bleaching...
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Are there languages with separate words for 'mouth opening' and 'mouth cavity'?

I am looking for languages which have separate words for the visible opening of the mouth (the external part, including or not including the lips), and the cavity (the internal part). Put another way, ...
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What are the target and source domain of this metaphor

The metaphor is: "the shower of arrows was over". Could "War" the source domain? And the target domain could be "water"? It doesn't make sense to me. I have read the ...
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What is the relation among connotation, semantics, and pragmatics?

I know that connotation meaning belongs to semantic meaning, but what I'm confused about is the connotation meaning is affected by the context, isn't it? If so, why does it not belong to pragmatic ...
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What is shallow semantic processing?

What exactly is "shallow semantic processing", and how is it related to syntactic analysis? Is it correct to say that syntactic processing of a text is the preliminary step for shallow semantic ...
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Is syntactic understanding of a text actually the most elementary form of semantical understanding of the text?

I am not a Linguist, but I am curious about the question below: Is there a linguistic theory that points out that syntactic understanding of a text constitutes the lowest level of semantical ...
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Is it possible to test statistical significance of difference between two distance/similarity scores?

I have a corpus consisting of tweets by men and another corpus of female tweets. I was thinking of using a word embeddings approach (e.g., glove and fasttext) and examine the cosine similarity between ...
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The semantics of grammatical transformations? [closed]

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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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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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 resembles a human ...
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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? [closed]

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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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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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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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&...
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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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