About this topic
Summary A linguistic phenomenon is labeled ‘semantic’ when it is appropriately characterized or explained by reference to the semantic properties of expressions – such as having a particular reference or truth conditions, or expressing a particular concept or proposition – and semantic relations between expressions – such as being co-referential or synonymous. Disputes in philosophy and linguistics frequently arise over whether a given phenomenon is genuinely semantic, or whether it is better explained in, say, syntactic or pragmatic terms. (This is true of many of the phenomena included here as subcategories, such as opacity, metaphor and various sorts of apparent context-dependence.) Such disputes partly reflect disagreements over the best way to explain the phenomenon in question; frequently, they also reflect foundational disagreements about what constitutes the subject matter of semantics.
Introductions The formal semantics textbooks Chierchia & McConnell-Ginet 2000 and Larson & Segal 1995 contain extensive introductory surveys of the phenomena that semantic theory typically aims to characterize or explain.
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  1. Space as a Semantic Unit of a Language Consciousness.Vitalii Shymko & Anzhela Babadzhanova - 2020 - Psycholinguistics 27 (1):335-350.
    Objective. Conceptualization of the definition of space as a semantic unit of language consciousness. -/- Materials & Methods. A structural-ontological approach is used in the work, the methodology of which has been tested and applied in order to analyze the subject matter area of psychology, psycholinguistics and other social sciences, as well as in interdisciplinary studies of complex systems. Mathematical representations of space as a set of parallel series of events (Alexandrov) were used as the initial theoretical basis of the (...)
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  2. Ineffability: The Very Concept.Sebastian Gäb - 2020 - Philosophia 48:1-12.
    In this paper, I analyze the concept of ineffability: what does it mean to say that something cannot be said? I begin by distinguishing ineffability from paradox: if something cannot be said truly or without contradiction, this is not an instance of ineffability. Next, I distinguish two different meanings of ‘saying something’ which result from a fundamental ambiguity in the term ‘language’, viz. language as a system of symbols and language as a medium of communication. Accordingly, ‘ineffability’ is ambiguous, too, (...)
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  3. Ability and Possibility.Wolfgang Schwarz - 2020 - Philosophers' Imprint 20.
    According to the classical quantificational analysis of modals, an agent has the ability to perform an act iff relevant facts about the agent and her environment are compatible with her performing the act. The analysis faces a number of problems, many of which can be traced to the fact that it takes even accidental performance of an act as proof of the relevant ability. I argue that ability statements are systematically ambiguous: on one reading, accidental performance really is enough; on (...)
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  4. An Essentialist Theory of the Meaning of Slurs.Eleonore Neufeld - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    In this paper, I develop an essentialist model of the semantics of slurs. I defend the view that slurs are a species of kind terms: Slur concepts encode mini-theories which represent an essence-like element that is causally connected to a set of negatively-valenced stereotypical features of a social group. The truth-conditional contribution of slur nouns can then be captured by the following schema: For a given slur S of a social group G and a person P, S is true of (...)
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  5. Modals Under Epistemic Tension.Guillermo Del Pinal & Brandon Waldon - 2019 - Natural Language Semantics 27 (2):135-188.
    According to Kratzer’s influential account of epistemic 'must' and 'might', these operators involve quantification over domains of possibilities determined by a modal base and an ordering source. Recently, this account has been challenged by invoking contexts of ‘epistemic tension’: i.e., cases in which an assertion that 'must p' is conjoined with the possibility that 'not p', and cases in which speakers try to downplay a previous assertion that 'must p', after finding out that 'not p'. Epistemic tensions have been invoked (...)
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  6. The Acquaintance Inference with 'Seem'-Reports.Rachel Etta Rudolph - 2019 - Proceedings of the Chicago Linguistics Society 54:451-460.
    Some assertions give rise to the acquaintance inference: the inference that the speaker is acquainted with some individual. Discussion of the acquaintance inference has previously focused on assertions about aesthetic matters and personal tastes (e.g. 'The cake is tasty'), but it also arises with reports about how things seem (e.g. 'Tom seems like he's cooking'). 'Seem'-reports give rise to puzzling acquaintance behavior, with no analogue in the previously-discussed domains. In particular, these reports call for a distinction between the specific acquaintance (...)
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  7. Understanding Evans.Rick Grush - manuscript
    This paper is largely exegetical/interpretive. My goal is to demonstrate that some criticisms that have been leveled against the program Gareth Evans constructs in The Varieties of Reference (Evans 1980, henceforth VR) misfire because they are based on misunderstandings of Evans’ position. First I will be discussing three criticisms raised by Tyler Burge (Burge, 2010). The first has to do with Evans’ arguments to the effect that a causal connection between a belief and an object is insufficient for that belief (...)
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  8. Characteristics of inexpressibleness for functional-semantic category.M. Yu Mikhailova - 2017 - Liberal Arts in Russia 6 (2):174-181.
    The characteristics of the meaning of inexpressible is given in the article. It is shown that in the Russian language semantics of inexpressible is represented as a binary functional-semantic category. It was determined that the nuances of semantics of inexpressible can be represented in the form of a gradational scale on which they are distributed within the opposition ‘complete inexpressibleness - complete expressibility‘. The components of the situation of inexpressibleness inherent the means of transference of the value of inexpressible are (...)
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  9. The Availability of Conventional and of Literal Meaning During the Comprehension of Proverbs.Nigel E. Turner & Albert N. Katz - 1997 - Pragmatics and Cognition 5 (2):199-233.
    The confusion between sentential figurativeness and conventionality found in many of the experiments on figurative language comprehension is here disentangled by factorially crossing the figurativeness of a proverb with conventionality. Familiar proverbs are conventionally used in their figurative sense whereas for unfamiliar proverbs the literal meaning is more available. Multiple dependent measures were employed: the time taken to read the target, incidental recognition tests of target, recognition errors, interpretation errors, and recall aided by context-appropriate or inappropriate cues. Reading time data (...)
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  10. Private Names.V. Enrique Villanueva - 1983 - Critica 15 (45):3-23.
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  11. Literal Interpretation: The Meaning of the Words.Olaf Meyer & André Janssen - 2009 - In Olaf Meyer & André Janssen (eds.), Cisg Methodology. Sellier de Gruyter.
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  12. Meaning Potentials and Context: Some Consequences for the Analysis of Variation in Meaning.John R. Taylor, René Dirven & Hubert Cuyckens - 2003 - In John R. Taylor, René Dirven & Hubert Cuyckens (eds.), Cognitive Approaches to Lexical Semantics. Mouton de Gruyter.
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  13. Metaphors and Monsters.Edwin Yamauchi & Paul A. Porter - 1987 - Journal of the American Oriental Society 107 (3):552.
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  14. Literal Meaning — Figures.François Recanati - unknown
    COMPLETE SET OF FIGURES FOR 'LITERAL MEANING'.
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  15. Compositionality, Semantic Flexibility, and Context-Dependence.François Recanati - unknown
    It has often been observed that the meaning of a word may be affected by the other words which occur in the same sentence. How are we to account for this phenomenon of 'semantic flexibility'? It is argued that semantic flexibility reduces to context-sensitivity and does not raise unsurmountable problems for standard compositional accounts. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to assume too simple a view of context-sensitivity. Two basic forms of context-sensitivity are distinguished in the paper. (...)
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  16. Metaphors and Monsters.Fred Botting - 2003 - Journal for Cultural Research 7 (4):339-365.
  17. Dutch Manner of Motion Verbs: Disentangling Auxiliary Choice, Telicity and Syntactic Function.Maaike Beliën - 2012 - Cognitive Linguistics 23 (1):1-26.
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  18. Understanding Figurative and Literal Language: The Graded Salience Hypothesis.Rachel Giora - 1997 - Cognitive Linguistics 8 (3):183-206.
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  19. Cognitive Schemas and Motion Verbs: COMING and GOING in Chindali.Robert Botne - 2005 - Cognitive Linguistics 16 (1).
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  20. Semantic Category and Surface Form.Emma Borg - 1998 - Analysis 58 (3):232-238.
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  21. Requantification, Underquantification and Partial Focus in Indefinites.S. Hinterwimmer & D. Schueler - 2015 - Journal of Semantics 32 (4):749-797.
  22. Epistemic Comparison, Models of Uncertainty, and the Disjunction Puzzle.D. Lassiter - 2015 - Journal of Semantics 32 (4):649-684.
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  23. Falsity Conditions for IF-Sentences.Francien Dechesne - 2005 - Philosophia Scientae 9:305-322.
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  24. Measurement Theory in Linguistics.Galit Weidman Sassoon - 2010 - Synthese 174 (1):151-180.
    This paper presents a novel semantic analysis of unit names (like pound and meter) and gradable adjectives (like tall, short and happy), inspired by measurement theory (Krantz et al. In Foundations of measurement: Additive and Polynomial Representations, 1971). Based on measurement theory’s four-way typology of measures, I claim that different adjectives are associated with different types of measures whose special characteristics, together with features of the relations denoted by unit names, explain the puzzling limited distribution of measure phrases, as well (...)
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  25. Aesthetic Adjectives.Louise McNally & Isidora Stojanovic - 2014 - In James Young (ed.), The Semantics of Aesthetic Judgment. Oxford University Press.
    Among semanticists and philosophers of language, there has been a recent outburst of interest in predicates such as delicious, called predicates of personal taste (PPTs, e.g. Lasersohn 2005). Somewhat surprisingly, the question of whether or how we can distinguish aesthetic predicates from PPTs has hardly been addressed at all in this recent work. It is precisely this question that we address. We investigate linguistic criteria that we argue can be used to delineate the class of specifically aesthetic adjectives. We show (...)
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  26. Context and Communication.Herman Cappelen & Josh Dever - 2016 - Oxford University Press UK.
    Context and Communication offers an introduction to a central theme in the study of language: the various ways in which what we say depends on the context of speech and thought. The period since 1970 has produced a vast literature on this topic, both by philosophers and by linguists. This book explores key data, questions, concepts, and theories of context sensitivity. It is written to be accessible to someone with no prior knowledge of the material or, indeed, any prior knowledge (...)
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  27. Figuratively Speaking.Robert J. Fogelin - 2011 - Oxford University Press USA.
    In this updated edition of his brief, engaging book, Robert J. Fogelin examines figures of speech that concern meaning--irony, hyperbole, understatement, similes, metaphors, and others--to show how they work and to explain their attraction. Building on the ideas of Grice and Tversky, Fogelin contends that figurative language derives its power from its insistence that the reader participate in the text, looking beyond the literal meaning of the figurative language to the meanings that are implied. With examples ranging from Shakespeare, John (...)
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  28. The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces.Gillian Ramchand & Charles Reiss (eds.) - 2006 - Oxford University Press UK.
    This state-of-the-art guide to some of the most exciting work in current linguistics explores how the core components of the language faculty interact. It examines how these interactions are reflected in linguistic and cognitive theory, considers what they reveal about the operations of language within the mind, and looks at their reflections in expression and communication. Leading international scholars present cutting-edge accounts of developments in the interfaces between phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. They bring to bear a rich (...)
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  29. Rearming the Slingshot?Meg Wallace - 2015 - Acta Analytica 30 (3):283-292.
    Slingshot arguments aim to show that an allegedly non-extensional sentential connective—such as “necessarily ” or “the statement that Φ corresponds to the fact that ”—is, to the contrary, an extensional sentential connective. Stephen Neale : 761-825, 1995, 2001) argues that a reformulation of Gödel’s slingshot puts pressure on us to adopt a particular view of definite descriptions. I formulate a revised version of the slingshot argument—one that relies on Kaplan’s notion of “dthat.” I aim to show that if Neale’s version (...)
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  30. Explanation in Linguistics.Paul Egré - 2015 - Philosophy Compass 10 (7):451-462.
    The aim of the present paper is to understand what the notions of explanation and prediction in contemporary linguistics mean, and to compare various aspects that the notion of explanation encompasses in that domain. The paper is structured around an opposition between three main styles of explanation in linguistics, which I propose to call ‘grammatical’, ‘functional’, and ‘historical’. Most of this paper is a comparison between these different styles of explanations and their relations. A second, more methodological aspect this paper (...)
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  31. Violeta Demonte and Louise McNally , Telicity, Change, and State: A Cross‐Categorial View of Event Structure, Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, 400 Pp., £79 Hardbound, ISBN 9780199693498. [REVIEW]Louis Saussure - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (1):143-148.
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  32. Major Parts of Speech.Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (1):3-29.
    According to the contemporary consensus, when reaching in the lexicon grammar looks for items like nouns, verbs, and prepositions while logic sees items like predicates, connectives, and quantifiers. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a single lexical category contemporary grammar and logic both make use of. I hope to show that while a perfect match between the lexical categories of grammar and logic is impossible there can be a substantial overlap. I propose semantic definitions for all the major parts (...)
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  33. Bodily Forces, Actions and the Semantics of Verbs.Peter Gärdenfors - 2012 - In Alex Arteaga, Marion Lauschke & Horst Bredekamp (eds.), Bodies in Action and Symbolic Forms: Zwei Seiten der Verkörperungstheorie. Akademie Verlag. pp. 253-272.
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  34. Argument Structure in Hindi.Tara Mohanan - 1994
  35. Radical Pragmatics.Peter Cole - 1981
  36. Toward a Semantics for English Spatial Expressions.Judith Sachs Merriam Crow - 1989 - Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin
    It has long been recognized that natural language expressions for space and time share basic similarities. Despite these similarities, studies in natural language semantics have focused almost exclusively on the semantics of time. It is argued here that the fundamental similarities between the domains of space and time, and the rich body of work in the semantics of temporal expressions, jointly motivate an excursion into the semantics of space. Drawing on a logical tradition originating with Russell and Whitehead, which has (...)
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  37. Indirect Discourse and Modal Composition.Murray James Kiteley - 1959 - Dissertation, University of Minnesota
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  38. E. F. KITTAY "Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure". [REVIEW]M. V. Aldridge - 1988 - History and Philosophy of Logic 9 (2):251.
  39. Monkey Semantics: Two ‘Dialects’ of Campbell’s Monkey Alarm Calls.Philippe Schlenker, Emmanuel Chemla, Kate Arnold, Alban Lemasson, Karim Ouattara, Sumir Keenan, Claudia Stephan, Robin Ryder & Klaus Zuberbühler - 2014 - Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (6):439-501.
    We develop a formal semantic analysis of the alarm calls used by Campbell’s monkeys in the Tai forest and on Tiwai island —two sites that differ in the main predators that the monkeys are exposed to. Building on data discussed in Ouattara et al. :e7808, 2009a; PNAS 106: 22026–22031, 2009b and Arnold et al., we argue that on both sites alarm calls include the roots krak and hok, which can optionally be affixed with -oo, a kind of attenuating suffix; in (...)
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  40. Direct Reference And Events.Paul Berckmans - 1995 - Diálogos. Revista de Filosofía de la Universidad de Puerto Rico 30 (66):43-58.
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  41. Kittay . - Metaphor, its cognitive force and linguistic structure. [REVIEW]P. Somville P. Somville - 1989 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 179:636.
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  42. Eva Kittay, Metaphor: Its Cognitive Force and Linguistic Structure. [REVIEW]Timothy Deibler - 1988 - Philosophy in Review 8:456-458.
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  43. Reference, Predication, and What is Said: A Study of Indirect Speech Reports with Special Application to Some Non-Denoting Terms.Rodney Jay Bertolet - 1977 - Dissertation, The University of Wisconsin - Madison
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  44. Syntactic Conditions on Saturation.Deborah Mandelbaum - 1994 - Dissertation, City University of New York
    This thesis examines the syntactic structures within which a theory of predication may operate. The range of investigation includes saturation in adjectival structures, predicate nominal structures, genitive structures, and superlative nominal structures. ;A theory of adjectival structure and predication forms the basis for the remaining structures proposed in the thesis. It is assumed that when in construction with nouns adjectives are generated in either of two positions: as transitive heads of adjectival phrases, selecting noun phrase complements, or as intransitive heads (...)
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  45. The Semantics of the Modal Auxiliaries in Contemporary German.Lowell Bouma - 1976 - Foundations of Language 14 (3):399-411.
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  46. Semantic Structure and Word Formation: Verb-Particle Constructions in Contemporary English.Leonhard Lipka - 1975 - Foundations of Language 13 (4):593-596.
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  47. Ambiguity in Natural Language: An Investigation of Certain Problems in Its Linguistic Description.J. G. Kooij - 1973 - Foundations of Language 10 (4):595-597.
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  48. The English Verb: Forms and Meanings.Martin Joos & F. R. Palmer - 1967 - Foundations of Language 3 (3):317-321.
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  49. Imperatives.C. L. Hamblin - 1988 - Mind 97 (388):624-626.
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  50. Questions of Form and Interpretation.Noam Chomsky - 1975 - Peter de Ridder Press.
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