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Transcript of Semantics
The Study of Linguistic Meaning
Embodied in the Sentence
Relationship between Sentences
Necessarily true based on the words in the sentence.
Ex. A bachelor is an unmarried man.
to the flower.
You are referring to the flower in relation to a
Necessarily false based on the words in the sentence
of a referring expression
is pretty. (i.e. a daisy or lily)
You are referencing a
is pretty. (
has yellow petals, long-stemmed rose, ...etc.
How do we explain the meanings of words and sentences?
What impact does the speaker bring to the meaning?
These sentences are not true or false because of the words, but rather by how they do or do not accurately describe the state of the world.
A proposition (in a sentence) that follows necessarily from another sentence.
A proposition (in a sentence) that must be assumed to be true to judge the truth or falsity of another sentence.
Sense is the study of meaning and is divided in two areas:
Speaker Sense: The intention to create expression. This is part of pragmatics.
Linguistic Expression: Is the literal meaning of words. The linguistic expression is divided into properties.
Lexical ambiguity is the identification of multiple meaning words and their variant uses in context; for example, the phrase
Waldo saw a fly
. The word
has three ambiguous meanings each bearing a lexical entry (dictionary listing).
- an insect
a. The term fly in this phrase would be interpreted as the lexical entry representative of an insect.
- a zipper
b. The terms lexical entry would indicate that Waldo saw a zipper. The zipper placement is undetermined.
- a ball
c. In this case the lexical entry is interpreted as Waldo witnessing a game of baseball in which the ball is an out, a hit, or a home run.
Note: There are some case in which ambiguity is not lexical.
Ex: American history teacher
A teacher of American history
A history teacher who is American
Examples of cases
None of these words
have more than one
Words are synonymous if they have the same sense, which in turn, has the same value; however, it does not resonate differences in
, and also differs in
Other Types of Linguistic-References
linguistic expressions that
linguistic expression that
, but can
speaker and their spatial/temporal relation
Glenwood is a city in Illinois.
thing, the city of Glenwood, IL.
would be called next.
refer to the
Barbara is speaking to Bill:
would pick up that jacket over
if Bill is speaking to Barbara.
Connotations demonstrate the attitude of the speaker; for example:
Both terms denote the same entity; however,
one has a
connotation while the other is
of linguistic expressions
of linguistic expressions
Ex. A triangle has four sides.
Knowing the definition of a triangle, we can judge the sentence as false.
Sometimes referred to as empirical truths: true or false by virtue of the extralinguistic world.
Ex. My neighbor has five children.
This sentence can only be verified by consulting the family.
The definition of BACHELOR is UNMARRIED MAN.
Test for entailment: Sentence (a) entails sentence (b) if the truth of (a) ensures the truth of (b) and if the falsity of (b) ensures the falsity of (a).
Ex. (a)Dilana aced English entails (b)Dilana passed English.
Dilana cannot 'ACE' English if she did not pass English.
Relation of entailment is unidirectional.
When the sentence order is reversed, the test does not necessarily work.
Ex. (b)Dilana passed English and (a) Dilana aced English.
Dilana passing English does not ensure that she aced English (maybe she received a C). If Dilana did not ace English, that does not ensure that she failed English.
When a pair of sentences entail each other.
Ex. Dilana passed English and The class Dilana passed was English.
The sentences are saying the same thing in two different ways.
The register is the level of formality in which the synonymous words are associated; for example:
NOTE: Entailment describes the same relationship between sentences as hyponymy describes between words.
Paraphrase describes the same relationship between sentences as synonymy describes between words.
A guy walks into a bar...
A man walks into bar...
This would be considered the beginning phrasing of a joke. which in turn, would make it informal.
Formal or Informal...
That is the register.
Man v. Guy
This would be considered the beginning phrasing of a formal story indicating an adult male did walk into a bar.
The test: Depends on the fact of the sentence and it denial having the same set of presuppositions. Known as constancy under negation.
Ex. (a)Dilana aced English presupposes the sentence (b)Dilana took English. In additon, Dilana did not ace English also presupposes sentence (b).
NOTE: It is possible to begin with the negative statement and test for presupposition.
These are structures or words that assume the truth of the expressed proposition or the speaker's attitude about the proposition.
Ex. When will you take me to the movies?
Assumes the truth of the expressed proposition 'You will take me to the movies.
Factive verbs (and verb phrases)
that the new game is easy to learn.
is the factive verb which presupposes the truth of the proposition 'the new game is easy to learn.'
Factive verbs include: acknowledge, be aware, bear in mind, demonstrate, grasp, make clear, note, prove, regret, resent, show, take into account, take into consideration
Nonfactive verbs include: allege, assert, assume, believe, charge, claim, conclude, conjecture, fancy, figure, maintain, suggest, suppose, think
1. Dilana failed to do her homework.
2. Dilana forgot to do her homework.
3. Dilana did not do her homework.
All three sentences express the proposition 'Dilana did not do her homework.' The implicative verbs go a step further, implying an unmet responsibility.
Avoid: negative act
Forget: unmet obligation, not intentional
Bother: no obligation
Neglect: unmet obligation
Fail: unmet obligation
Refrain: negative act
Manage: difficult and intentional act
Happen: accidental act
Partial list of Implicative verbs with presupposition
Parker, F. & Riley, K. (2010). Linguistics for non-linguists: A primer with exercises. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
This pertains to a more general meaning of a word or the
It contains all the same values of another word and additional meanings.
Hyponymy is also referred to as
Overlap occurs when two words overlap meanings while maintaining the same value. These words do not always have the same semantic features.
When the meaning of two words differs only in value for one semantic meaning.
Method representing the sense of words comprised of semantic features. Each value is represented + or - with the features in this example being adult and male.
man woman boy girl
+ + - -
+ - + -
If you place the words sister, niece, aunt and mother, all intersect, but are not included within each other as in Hyponymy.
sister niece aunt mother
+ + + +
- - - -
+ + + +
If we add the words nun and mistress as features, they once again overlap because all are human, but not always kin and never male.
sister niece aunt mother nun mistress
+ + + + + +
- - - - - -
+ + + + - -
Now, add two more to the list, mare and sow. They overlap because none are male, and not all are kin or human.
sister niece aunt mother nun mistress mare sow
+ + + + + + - -
+ + + + + + - -
+ + + + - - - -
Non negotiable opposing terms
are opposites on a continuous dimension
A description of opposite perspectives.