Questions tagged [semantics]

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

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3
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1answer
122 views

References on Definiteness

Does anybody happen to know of any good and fairly readily-available surveys of the language-specific semantics of definiteness cross-linguistically? Specifically, I'm interested in all the various ...
10
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1answer
762 views

What is the role of syntax in understanding event descriptive sentences?

I've been closely following the work stemming from St. John and McClelland's Sentence Gestalt Model, which uses a connectist model to extract semantic information about events from sentences without ...
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4answers
511 views

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 ...
6
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2answers
237 views

The meaning of “what”?

"What" is defined grammatically as an interrogative pronoun ... used interrogatively in asking for the specification of an identity, quantity, quality, etc. (Wiktionary) In dictionaries, however, ...
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3answers
2k views

Is there a difference between plurality in semantics and in morphology?

With regard to morphology a common example of a lexeme is [dog, dogs] where dogs is the plural inflexion of the lemma dog modified by the -s suffix, marking plurality. Although I can accept that dog ...
2
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1answer
85 views

Do we have any idea how widespread NPIs are?

Most languages have words that function as negative polarity items. Is this believed to be true of all human languages? Are there specific languages that have been plausibly claimed not to have any ...
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3answers
1k views

Identifying studies on how English language reflects sexism

Right now I'm looking for papers on how sexism is reflected in the English language. A lot of the literature is from the 1970's and is seen as a little out there and not empirical. Besides reading the ...
7
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1answer
474 views

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.’ ...
12
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3answers
859 views

Is there any language that doesn't express Tense but allows “aspectual coercion”?

Mandarin Chinese appears to be a language that may not express tense (at least in the way I will define below), and it does not seem to allow aspectual coercion. By not expressing Tense I mean, such ...
18
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4answers
28k views

Is “double positive meaning negative” a common phenomenon?

The following joke is popular: An MIT linguistics professor was lecturing his class the other day. “In English,” he said, “a double negative forms a positive. However, in some languages, such as ...
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9answers
3k views

Are there languages that distinguish between inclusive and exclusive “or”?

I would be especially interested in Indo-European languages or other common language families, but failing that, I would be very interested if it exists at all, because it is an important distinction ...
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2answers
1k views

Are there any non-Indo-European languages with go-periphrasis?

Some Indo-European languages have a construction called go-periphrasis, by which some form of the verb go is used in conjunction with the main verb to mark tense. Most languages that have this feature ...
8
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1answer
193 views

Is there any language that expresses the category D but doesn't have inverse scope?

By "expresses the category D" I mean, preferably, that there is solid evidence/argumentation for a given morpheme to be analyzed as overtly heading a Determiner projection. I would limit such ...
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2answers
337 views

What's the “state of the art” for methodology in syntactic/semantic experiments

I'm looking for good recent books or articles on experimental methodology in syntax or semantics. Ideally they'd be geared towards working formal linguists who don't know much about psycholinguistics ...
6
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1answer
275 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'...
25
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9answers
10k views

The relationship between “orange” the colour and “orange” the fruit

This is something that bugged me before I studied linguists, and it still does - why is the word "orange" so often used for both the colour and the fruit cross-linguistically? Every language I've ...
2
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1answer
75 views

How to characterise set/assign-from/to

If I want to talk about moving information, I can use verbs "set" or "assign" in combination with nouns referring to source and target information containers, right? My intuition/instinct is to ...
18
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4answers
2k views

Are there any languages that mark nouns as mass?

Nouns like water, mud, furniture in English are odd with plural morphology (adding -s, as in furnitures), with numerals (three furniture(s)), and seem to have their own quantifier (much water but not ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Distinguishing between epistemic and circumstantial readings (without recourse to temporality)?

How can you/should you empirically distinguish between epistemic and circumstantial readings of modals? I (at least think I) understand how the two readings are supposed to be distinguished ...
8
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2answers
1k views

What is the origin of the “hierarchy of projections”, the language system or (some) conceptual system?

All languages display some form of the hierarchy of projections, to the extent we understand what this is: in a given clause, roughly, complementizers are higher than inflectional heads are higher ...
6
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2answers
361 views

Where could I find a corpus that is purely descriptive in nature and limited in scope?

I'm trying to build a cognitive model of how people learn a event representation from a sentence describing the event, based on St. John & McClelland's Sentence Gestalt Model. However, while ...

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