Mass Terms and Model-Theoretic Semantics

Cambridge University Press (1985)
Abstract
'Mass terms', words like water, rice and traffic, have proved very difficult to accommodate in any theory of meaning since, unlike count nouns such as house or dog, they cannot be viewed as part of a logical set and differ in their grammatical properties. In this study, motivated by the need to design a computer program for understanding natural language utterances incorporating mass terms, Harry Bunt provides a thorough analysis of the problem and offers an original and detailed solution. An extension of classical set theory, Ensemble Theory, is defined, and this provides the conceptual basis of a framework for the analysis of natural language meaning which Dr Bunt calls Two-level model-theoretic semantics. The validity of the framework is convincingly demonstrated by the formal analysis of a fragment of English including sentences with quantified and modified mass terms. Separate chapters of the book are devoted to an axiomatic definition of Ensemble Theory and a detailed discussion of its status as a mathematical formalism.
Keywords Semantics  Grammar, Comparative and general Mass nouns  Logic, Symbolic and mathematical  Set theory
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Call number P325.B85 1985
ISBN(s) 0521105919   052125681X
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Jim Higginbotham (1994). Mass and Count Quantifiers. Linguistics and Philosophy 17 (5):447 - 480.
B. H. Slater (2006). Grammar and Sets. Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84 (1):59 – 73.

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