Ling 110, Section 5 (Semantics I)
March 17, 2006.
7.1, 7.2, 7.4, 7.11, 7.12, 7.14
due at 11 am on
Semantics quiz date has been changed to Wednesday, April 5
Quiz review session will be held Tuesday, April 4
6-7 pm, in Emerson 101
1. Compositionality of Meaning
(1) Thumbnail definition of semantics
The study of the relation between linguistic
.(2) Semantic compositionality
the key principle in linguistic semantics due to Gottlob Frege
– the meaning of an expression is determined by the meanings of its parts and by the ways in which those parts are assembled.In semantics, we want to model the way a speaker/hearer computes the meaning of a whole from themeanings of its parts in a compositional fashion.
Speakers have intuitions about
truth-value relations between sentences.
Any competent Englishspeaker can recognize that if (S1) is true, then so is (S2), even without knowing anything about thehistorical figure Julius Caesar:(S1) Julius Caesar was a famous man.(S2) Julius Caesar was a man.(3)
: Sentence S1 entails sentence S2 if, and only if whenever S1 is true in a situation, S2is also necessarily true in that situation.S1
whenever S1 is true in a situation, S2 is true in that situation.In other words, a situation describable by S1 must also be a situation describable by S2.E.g.) (S1) Beidao is a Chinese poet
(S2) Beidao is a poet(S1) Beidao killed his wife
(S2) Beidao’s wife diedPart of our
knowledge is knowing the entailment relations between certain sentences.(4) Some sentences are
):e.g.) Either there is a book on the table, or there isn’t a book on the table.Every hedgehog is a hedgehog.Every six-pointed triangle is a six-pointed triangle.(5)
... or necessarily false (=
):e.g.) Lois read the book, and Lois didn’t read the book.