Natural languages are vehicles of information, arguably the most important, certainly the most ubiquitous that humans possess. Our everyday interactions with the world, with each other and with ourselves depend on them. And even where in the specialised contexts of science we use dedicated formalisms to convey information, their use is embedded in natural language.1..
This paper proposes a method for computing the temporal aspects of the interpretations of a variety of Germa sentences. The method is strictly modular in the sense that it allows each meaning-bearing sentence constituent to make its own, separate, contribution to the semantic representation of any sentence containing it. The semantic representation of a sentence is reached in several stages. First, an ‘initial semantic representation’ is constructed, using a syntactic analysis of the sentence as input. This initial representation is then (...) transformed into the definitive representation by a series of transformations which reflect the ways in which the contributions from different constituents of the sentence interact. Since the different constituents which make their respective contributions to the meaning of the sentence are in most instances ambiguous, the initial representations are typically of a high degree of underspecification. (shrink)
Does context and context-dependence belong to the research agenda of semantics - and, specifically, of formal semantics? Not so long ago many linguists and philosophers would probably have given a negative answer to the question. However, recent developments in formal semantics have indicated that analyzing natural language semantics without a thorough accommodation of context-dependence is next to impossible. The classification of the ways in which context and context-dependence enter semantic analysis, though, is still a matter of much controversy and some (...) of these disputes are ventilated in the present collection. This book is not only a collection of papers addressing context-dependence and methods for dealing with it: it also records comments to the papers and the authors' replies to the comments. In this way, the contributions themselves are contextually dependent. In view of the fact that the contributors to the volume are such key figures in contemporary formal semantics as Hans Kamp, Barbara Partee, Reinhard Muskens, Nicholas Asher, Manfred Krifka, Jaroslav Peregrin and many others, the book represents a quite unique inquiry into the current activities on the semantics side of the semantics/pragmatics boundary. (shrink)
This paper presents a sound and complete proof system for the first order fragment of Discourse Representation Theory. Since the inferences that human language users draw from the verbal input they receive for the most transcend the capacities of such a system, it can be no more than a basis on which more powerful systems, which are capable of producing those inferences, may then be built. Nevertheless, even within the general setting of first order logic the structure of the (...) formulas of DRS-languages, i.e. of the Discourse Representation Structures suggest for the components of such a system inference rules that differ somewhat from those usually found in proof systems for the first order predicate calculus and which are, we believe, more in keeping with inference patterns that are actually employed in common sense reasoning.This is why we have decided to publish the present exercise, in spite of the fact that it is not one for which a great deal of originality could be claimed. In fact, it could be argued that the problem addressed in this paper was solved when Gödel first established the completeness of the system of Principia Mathematica for first order logic. For the DRS-languages we consider here are straightforwardly intertranslatable with standard formulations of the predicate calculus; in fact the translations are so straightforward that any sound and complete proof system for first order logic can be used as a sound and complete proof system for DRSs: simply translate the DRSs into formulas of predicate logic and then proceed as usual. As a matter of fact, this is how one has chosen to proceed in some implementations of DRT, which involve inferencing as well as semantic representation; an example is the Lex system developed jointly by IBM and the University of Tübingen (see in particular (Guenthner et al. 1986)). (shrink)
Hans Kamp (1988). Conditionals in Dr Theory. In Jakob Hoepelman (ed.), Representation and Reasoning: Proceedings of the Stuttgart Conference Workshop on Discourse Representation, Dialogue Tableaux, and Logic Programming. M. Niemeyer Verlag.