Four semantic layers of common nouns

Synthese 175 (1):47 - 68 (2010)
Abstract
This article proposes a four-layer semantic structure for common nouns. Each layer matches up with a semantic entity of a certain type in Montague’s intensional semantics. It is argued that a common noun denotes a sense and a concept, which are functions. For any given context, the sense of a term determines its extensions and the concept denoted by the term specifies its intensions. Intensions are treated as sets of senses. The membership relation between a sense and an intension is a soft kind and is expressed in the form of a generic sentence. Such a layered structure explains various “degrees of publicity” of a language. The result we present clarifies the confusions existing in the ordinary understanding of “sense,” “intension,” and “concept.” It also has promising applications in interpreting metaphors and revealing the relationship between generics and metaphors.
Keywords Sense  Reference  Intension  Concept
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