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
645 views

Truth value of a proverb

One of the key tools of analysis in classical semantics is the concept of truth value. The content of a proposition, when contextualized in a particular world and a particular time, should have a ...
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4answers
12k views

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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2answers
818 views

Is redundancy in language really impossible? (Case of the Spanish imperfect subjunctive)

I have heard time and again that languages will reject words and structures that are redundant. That is, for example, if though two words may seem like they are perfect synonyms (e.g., rotund and ...
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0answers
66 views

Is “I'm paraphrasing myself when I say this…” autological?

A friend of mine posted the following on his Facebook wall: I'm paraphrasing myself when I say this... I know this isn't a paradox, is it autological? Is it recursive? Is it even a true statement? ...
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7answers
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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 ...
2
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1answer
101 views

How do I get 'hosted' from 'He had a party at his house'?

I'm new to NLP so bear with me if this isn't possible yet. I am interested in taking a sentence like 'He had a party at his house' to 'He hosted a party at his house' or simply the verb 'hosted'. Is ...
6
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1answer
418 views

What does the term “ontology” mean vis a vis the study of natural language?

Many of us know that the term "ontology" applies to the a priori philosophical study of the nature of existence. Ontology is a branch of metaphysics (the attempt to coherently characterize reality a ...
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0answers
2k views

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 ...
4
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1answer
1k views

What is pragmatic strengthening?

The term "pragmatic strengthening" has been tossed around in a lot of papers I've been looking at for a project I'm doing on idioms, and I can't seem to find a simple definition anywhere. Is anyone ...
22
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2answers
756 views

False-belief verbs

Some languages, including Mandarin and Cantonese, have a dedicated belief verb that one uses for describing false beliefs. For instance, in Mandarin, yiwei is used to describe beliefs that the ...
3
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1answer
167 views

What is a “witness world”? Is this notion related to “witness sets”?

In reading a paper by Anand & Hacquard, I've come across the term "witness world," where a witness world can verify a proposition, p. I haven't been able to google an easily understandable ...
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3answers
155 views

Movement and Speech

This may be a little weird, but... How can we describe words or phrases that have a specific accompanying movement? What sort of topics do they cover? To what degree has research been done on this? ...
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1answer
124 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
769 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
517 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 ...
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2answers
238 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
481 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.’ ...
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3answers
881 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 ...
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4answers
29k 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
198 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
339 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
280 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'...
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9answers
11k 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
76 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 ...
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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 ...
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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
364 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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