About this topic
Summary A semantics for a particular language L is a theory that maps each sentence of L onto its meaning, usually by having theorems of the appropriate form among its deductive consequences. It is standard (although controversial) to require an adequate semantics for L to be compositional – that is, to show how the meaning of each sentence of L is determined by the meanings of its basic lexical items and its syntactic structure. A central foundational question about semantics concerns its proper object of study: what features of an expression count as its semantic ones? One standard answer is that semantics should be “outward-looking” and concern itself with the word-world relational features of expressions, especially those that determine the truth-conditions of sentences. Another influential answer is that semantics should be “inward-looking” and concern itself with relationships between expressions and mental representations. Further important questions concern how linguistic meaning interacts with features of extra-linguistic context, how semantic and pragmatic phenomena are to be distinguished, and what role (if any) an adequate semantics for L should play in explaining the capacity of competent L-speakers to use and understand utterances in L.    
Key works See Davidson 1967, Soames 2009, Jackendoff 1990 and Higginbotham 1992 for important discussions of the proper object of study for semantics. Montague 1974 and Partee 1973 are crucial texts on the application of formal methods to the semantics of natural language. Devitt 2006 is a critical discussion on the role of semantic theory (and linguistics more generally) in explaining linguistic competence. Kaplan 1989 is a landmark treatment of context-sensitivity within semantic theory. Preyer & Peter 2007 and Szabo 2005 are valuable collections that discuss some of the controversies about the role of context in semantics and about how to distinguish semantics from pragmatics, respectively.
Introductions Good introductions to natural language semantics are Heim & Kratzer 1998, Larson & Segal 1995, and Chierchia & McConnell-Ginet 2000. Portner & Partee 2002 is a collection of important primary texts.
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Subcategories:History/traditions: Semantics

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  1. The Meaning of More.Alexis Wellwood - 2019 - Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
    This book reimagines the compositional semantics of comparative sentences using words such as more, as, too, and others. The book's central thesis entails a rejection of a fundamental assumption of degree semantic frameworks: that gradable adjectives like tall lexicalize functions from individuals to degrees, i.e., measure functions. -/- I argue that comparative expressions in English themselves introduce “measure functions”; this is the case whether that morphology targets adjectives, as in *taller* or *more intelligent*; nouns, as in *more coffee*, *more coffees*; (...)
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  2. Word Senses as Clusters of Meaning Modulations: A Computational Model of Polysemy.Jiangtian Li & Marc F. Joanisse - 2021 - Cognitive Science 45 (4):e12955.
    Most words in natural languages are polysemous; that is, they have related but different meanings in different contexts. This one‐to‐many mapping of form to meaning presents a challenge to understanding how word meanings are learned, represented, and processed. Previous work has focused on solutions in which multiple static semantic representations are linked to a single word form, which fails to capture important generalizations about how polysemous words are used; in particular, the graded nature of polysemous senses, and the flexibility and (...)
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  3. Domains of Polarity Items.Vincent Homer - 2021 - Journal of Semantics 38 (1):1-48.
    This article offers a unified theory of the licensing of Negative and Positive Polarity Items, focusing on the acceptability conditions of PPIs of the some-type, and NPIs of the any-type. It argues that licensing has both a syntactic and a semantic component. On the syntactic side, the acceptability of PIs is checked in constituents; in fact, for any given PI, only some constituents, referred to as `domains', are eligible for the evaluation of that PI. The semantic dimension of licensing consists (...)
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  4. Structured Plurality Reconsidered.Berta Grimau - 2021 - Journal of Semantics 38 (1):145-193.
    In this article, I address the question of the semantic analysis of structured plurals, that is, expressions like these children and those children, which seem to refer to pluralities of individuals divided into groups. In the first half of the article, I describe a variety of structured plural expressions and predicates they can combine with and I point out the difficulties faced by two extant approaches to the semantics of plurals: inflationary and cover-based semantics. In the second half of the (...)
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  5. Comparisons of Equality With German so…Wie, and the Relationship Between Degrees and Properties.Vera Hohaus & Malte Zimmermann - 2021 - Journal of Semantics 38 (1):95-143.
    We present a compositionally transparent, unified semantic analysis of two kinds of so…wie-equative constructions in German, namely degree equatives and property equatives in the domain of individuals or events. Unlike in English and many other European languages, both equative types in German feature the parameter marker so, suggesting a unified analysis. We show that the parallel formal expression of German degree and property equatives is accompanied by a parallel syntactic distribution, and by identical semantic properties: Both equative types allow for (...)
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  6. Deriving Dual Dimensions of Bias: Preposed Negation Questions with EVEN.Sunwoo Jeong - 2021 - Journal of Semantics 38 (1):49-94.
    Polar interrogatives with preposed negation convey positive epistemic bias. Polar interrogatives with even-type expressions, including prosodically stressed NPIs and minimizer NPIs, convey negative epistemic bias and often have a rhetorical flavor. This paper examines hybrid PQ constructions with both preposed negations and even-type expressions. It first presents a series of experimental studies which reveal that even-PNQs are characterized by complex, dual dimensions of bias contributed compositionally by both the preposed negation on the one hand and the even-type expression on the (...)
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  7. The Language of Fiction.Emar Maier & Andreas Stokke (eds.) - forthcoming - Oxford University Press.
    This volume brings together new research on fiction from the fields of philosophy and linguistics. Fiction has long been a topic of interest in philosophy, but recent years have also seen a surge in work on fictional discourse at the intersection between linguistics and philosophy of language. In particular, there has been a growing interest in examining long-standing issues concerning fiction from a perspective that is informed both by philosophy and linguistic theory. Following a detailed introduction by the editors, The (...)
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  8. Deferred Reference of Proper Names.Katarzyna Kijania-Placek & Paweł Banaś - forthcoming - Journal of Semantics.
    In this paper, we argue that proper names have deferred uses. Following Geoffrey Nunberg, we describe the deferred reference mechanism by which a linguistic expression refers to something in the world by exploiting a contextually salient relation between an index and the referent in question. Nunberg offered a thorough analysis of deferred uses of indexicals but claimed that proper names do not permit such uses. We, however, offer a number of examples of uses of proper names which pass grammatical tests (...)
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  9. Essential Vagueness: Two Models, One Simple Truth.Patrick Grim - forthcoming - In Ali Abasenezhad & Otavio Bueno (eds.), On the Sorites. Springer.
    What the Sorites has to tell us is a simple truth regarding our categories. It appears to saddle us with something other than a simple truth—something worse, a contradiction or a problem or a paradox—only when we insist on viewing it through a discrete logic of categories. Discrete categories and discrete logic are for robots. We aren’t robots, and the simple truth is that we don’t handle categories in the way any discrete logic would demand. For us non-robots, what the (...)
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  10. Making Meaning Happen.Patrick Grim - 2004 - Journal for Experimental and Theoretical Artificial Intelligence 16:209-244.
    What is it for a sound or gesture to have a meaning, and how does it come to have one? In this paper, a range of simulations are used to extend the tradition of theories of meaning as use. The authors work throughout with large spatialized arrays of sessile individuals in an environment of wandering food sources and predators. Individuals gain points by feeding and lose points when they are hit by a predator and are not hiding. They can also (...)
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  11. Interpreting Degree Semantics.Alexis Wellwood - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 10.
    Contemporary research in compositional, truth-conditional semantics often takes judgments of the relative unacceptability of certain phrasal combinations as evidence for lexical semantics. For example, observing that completely full sounds perfectly natural whereas completely tall does not has been used to motivate a distinction whereby the lexical entry for full but not for tall specifies a scalar endpoint. So far, such inferences seem unobjectionable. In general, however, applying this methodology can lead to dubious conclusions. For example, observing that slightly bent is (...)
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  12. The Role of Executive Function and Theory of Mind in Pragmatic Computations.Sarah Fairchild & Anna Papafragou - 2021 - Cognitive Science 45 (2):e12938.
    In sentences such as “Some dogs are mammals,” the literal semantic meaning (“Some and possibly all dogs are mammals”) conflicts with the pragmatic meaning (“Not all dogs are mammals,” known as a scalar implicature). Prior work has shown that adults vary widely in the extent to which they adopt the semantic or pragmatic meaning of such utterances, yet the underlying reason for this variation is unknown. Drawing on theoretical models of scalar implicature derivation, we explore the hypothesis that the cognitive (...)
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  13. How WM Load Influences Linguistic Processing in Adults: A Computational Model of Pronoun Interpretation in Discourse.Jacolien van Rij, Hedderik van Rijn & Petra Hendriks - 2013 - Topics in Cognitive Science 5 (3):564-580.
    This paper presents a study of the effect of working memory load on the interpretation of pronouns in different discourse contexts: stories with and without a topic shift. We discuss a computational model (in ACT‐R, Anderson, 2007) to explain how referring expressions are acquired and used. On the basis of simulations of this model, it is predicted that WM constraints only affect adults' pronoun resolution in stories with a topic shift, but not in stories without a topic shift. This latter (...)
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  14. On Cognition and the Tension of Live Metaphors.Patrick Bloniasz - 2020 - Meta: Research in Hermeneutics, Phenomenology, and Practical Philosophy 7 (2):499-516.
    ‘Live’, or novel, metaphors continue to occupy an interesting space in both the philosophical and cognitive sphere. One metaphorical theory, offered by French philosopher Paul Ricœur, is thoroughly fleshed out in relation to other dominant linguistic accounts of metaphor. Ricœur’s theory is underrepresented in much of contemporary neurolinguistic literature even though it bears great resemblance to many features of modern theories in cognitive science; as such, the current article attempts to establish a clear connection between Ricœur’s work and the cognitive (...)
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  15. Comparing Conventions.Rachel Etta Rudolph & Alexander W. Kocurek - 2020 - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 30:294-313.
    We offer a novel account of metalinguistic comparatives, such as 'Al is more wise than clever'. On our view, metalinguistic comparatives express comparative commitments to conventions. Thus, 'Al is more wise than clever' expresses that the speaker has a stronger commitment to a convention on which Al is wise than to a convention on which she is clever. This view avoids problems facing previous approaches to metalinguistic comparatives. It also fits within a broader framework—independently motivated by metalinguistic negotiations and convention-shiftingexpressions— (...)
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  16. Aspect and Thematic Roles.Toshiyuki Ogihara - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (1):83-115.
    In this work, I propose a new semantic analysis of the Japanese progressive/resultative morpheme -te iru, which also leads to an improved account of the English progressive and contributes to cross-linguistic theory of aspect. The proposal is based on the modal analysis of the English progressive proposed by Portner and Ferreira, but it is modified to accommodate the Japanese data. Crucially, the target state reading of -te iru is available when the subject entity is a theme/undergoer; this is not controlled (...)
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  17. Una nota sulla pragmatica musicale.Salvatore Pistoia-Reda - 2020 - de Musica 1 (24):173-178.
    In questa nota si fornisce un esempio preliminare di analisi pragmatica delle strutture musicali. Nell’analisi, la stipulazione di una pragmatica musicale segue strettamente recenti proposte presentate in ambito semantico, in cui si illustrano le potenziali virtù rappresentazionali delle strutture musicali. In particolare, in questa nota si suggerisce la presenza di strategie di ricostruzione dei significati musicali le quali intervengono a prevenire la realizzazione di contenuti semantici contraddittori. L’evidenza utilizzata è ricavata da alcune misure del madrigale primo del II libro dei (...)
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  18. Perceived Similarity of Imagined Possible Worlds Affects Judgments of Counterfactual Plausibility.Felipe De Brigard, Paul Henne & Matthew L. Stanley - 2021 - Cognition 209:104574.
    People frequently entertain counterfactual thoughts, or mental simulations about alternative ways the world could have been. But the perceived plausibility of those counterfactual thoughts varies widely. The current article interfaces research in the philosophy and semantics of counterfactual statements with the psychology of mental simulations, and it explores the role of perceived similarity in judgments of counterfactual plausibility. We report results from seven studies (N = 6405) jointly supporting three interconnected claims. First, the perceived plausibility of a counterfactual event is (...)
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  19. The Interpretation of Disjunction in the Scope of Dou in Child Mandarin.Shasha An, Peng Zhou & Stephen Crain - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
    A recent theory provides a unified cross-linguistic analysis of the interpretations that are assigned to expressions for disjunction, Negative Polarity Items, Free Choice Items, and the non-interrogative uses of wh-phrases in languages such as Mandarin Chinese. If this approach is on the right track, children should be expected to demonstrate similar patterns in the acquisition of these linguistic expressions. Previous research has found that, by age four, children have acquired the knowledge that both the existential indefinite renhe “any” and wh-words (...)
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  20. Compositionality and Expressive Power: Comments on Pietroski.Elmar Unnsteinsson - 2020 - Croatian Journal of Philosophy 20 (3):295-310.
    Paul Pietroski has developed a powerful minimalist and internalist alternative to standard compositional semantics, where meanings are identified with instructions to fetch or assemble human concepts in specific ways. In particular, there appears to be no need for Fregean Function Application, as natural language composition only involves processes of combining monadic or dyadic concepts, and Pietroski’s theory can then, allegedly, avoid both singular reference and truth conditions. He also has a negative agenda, purporting to show, roughly, that the vocabulary of (...)
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  21. Lexical Innovation and the Periphery of Language.Luca Gasparri - forthcoming - Linguistics and Philosophy:1-25.
    Lexical innovations (e.g., zero-derivations coined on the fly by a speaker) seem to bear semantic content. Yet, such expressions cannot bear semantic content as a function of the conventions of meaning in force in the language, since they are not part of its lexicon. This is in tension with the commonplace view that the semantic content of lexical expressions is constituted by linguistic conventions. The conventionalist has two immediate ways out of the tension. The first is to preserve the conventionalist (...)
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  22. An Occurrence Description Logic.Farshad Badie & Hans Götzsche - forthcoming - Logical Investigations.
    Description Logics (DLs) are a family of well-known terminological knowledge representation formalisms in modern semantics-based systems. This research focuses on analysing how our developed Occurrence Logic (OccL) can conceptually and logically support the development of a description logic. OccL is integrated into the alternative theory of natural language syntax in `Deviational Syntactic Structures' under the label `EFA(X)3' (or the third version of Epi-Formal Analysis in Syntax, EFA(X), which is a radical linguistic theory). From the logical point of view, OccL is (...)
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  23. A Semantic Basis for Meaning Construction in Constructivist Interactions.Farshad Badie - 2015 - In 12th International Conference on Cognition and Exploratory Learning in Digital Age. pp. 369-373.
    Regarding constructivism as a learning philosophy and/or a model of knowing, a person (learner or mentor) based on her/ his preconceptions and on personal knowings could actively participate in an interaction with another person (learner or mentor) in order to construct her/his personal knowledge. In this research I will analyse 'meaning construction' within constructivism. I will focus on a semantic loop that the learner and mentor as intentional participants move through and organise their personal constructed conceptions in order to construct (...)
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  24. Semantic Relativism and Logical Implication.Leonid Tarasov - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-21.
    Semantic relativism is the view that the truth-value of some types of statements can vary depending on factors besides possible worlds and times, without any change in their propositional content. It has grown increasingly popular as a semantic theory of several types of statements, including statements that attribute knowledge of a proposition to a subject. The ways of knowing claim is the view that perception logically implies knowledge. In my “Semantic Relativism and Ways of Knowing” I argued that a relativist (...)
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  25. Actuality Entailments and Free Choice.Sam Alxatib - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (4):701-720.
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  26. Quadruplex Negatio Invertit? The On-Line Processing of Depth Charge Sentences.Dario Paape, Shravan Vasishth & Titus von der Malsburg - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (4):509-555.
    So-called “depth charge” sentences are interpreted by the vast majority of speakers to mean the opposite of what their compositional semantics would dictate. The semantic inversion that is observed for sentences of this type is the strongest and most persistent linguistic illusion known to the field. However, it has recently been argued that the preferred interpretation arises not because of a prevailing failure of the processing system, but rather because the non-compositional meaning is grammaticalized in the form of a stored (...)
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  27. Locations.Susan Rothstein - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (4):611-649.
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  28. Cumulation Across Attitudes and Plural Projection.Viola Schmitt - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (4):557-609.
    This paper investigates cumulative readings of sentences in which some, but not all of the plural expressions have a de dicto reading, i.e. sentences where the lower plural is interpreted in the scope of an attitude verb like believe. I argue that such cases represent a problem for existing accounts of cumulativity, because the required cumulative relation cannot be formed. I then motivate and propose an alternative analysis where all plural expressions are interpreted in situ: I expand the ‘plural projection’ (...)
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  29. A Realis Subjunctive in German.Eva Csipak - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (4):475-508.
    The German Konjunktiv II is known for its reportative and irrealis uses. This paper argues for a third, realis, use which is independent of the other two uses. Thus by uttering ‘Da wäre Saft im Kühlschrank there is.[realis subjunctive] juice in the fridge’ a speaker can signal that not only is she certain that there is juice in the fridge, but also that she is offering the juice to an interlocutor. I show that the meaning contribution of the realis subjunctive (...)
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  30. Truth and Gradability.Jared Henderson - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophical Logic:1-25.
    I argue for two claims: that the ordinary English truth predicate is a gradable adjective and that truth is a property that comes in degrees. The first is a semantic claim, motivated by the linguistic evidence and the similarity of the truth predicate's behavior to other gradable terms. The second is a claim in natural language metaphysics, motivated by interpreting the best semantic analysis of gradable terms as applied to the truth predicate. In addition to providing arguments for these two (...)
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  31. Short Communication: Linguistic Semantics of the Covid-19 Quarantine Concept Perceived by Ukrainians.Vitalii Shymko & Anzhela Babadzhanova - 2020 - Advance.
    The manuscript presents a summary of the results of the linguistic semantics study of Covid-19 related quarantine. Research conducted on a sample of Russian speaking Ukrainians. Found content and structure of the respective discursive field. Described features of inter-discourse connections. Established that the actualization of some discourses is accompanied by the deactivation of others, what makes quarantine semantics biased. Also, it was suggested that some of the discourses are indirectly positively associated and form the semantic core of the quarantine concept.
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  32. Judge-Dependence in Degree Constructions: Table 1.Lisa Bylinina - 2016 - Journal of Semantics:ffw011.
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  33. On the Role of Alternatives in the Acquisition of Simple and Complex Disjunctions in French and Japanese.L. Tieu, K. Yatsushiro, A. Cremers, J. Romoli, U. Sauerland & E. Chemla - 2016 - Journal of Semantics:ffw010.
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  34. Oldthinkful Duckspeak Refs Opposites Rewrite Fullwise Upsub Antefiling.Keith Begley - 2018 - In Ezio Di Nucci & Stefan Storrie (eds.), 1984 and Philosophy: Is Resistance Futile? Chicago, IL, USA: pp. 255–265.
    "It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words. Of course the great wastage is in the verbs and adjectives, but there are hundreds of nouns that can be got rid of as well. It isn’t only the synonyms; there are also the antonyms. After all, what justification is there for a word which is simply the opposite of some other word? A word contains its opposite in itself. Take “good”, for instance. If you have a word like “good”, what need (...)
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  35. A Model of Causal and Probabilistic Reasoning in Frame Semantics.Vasil Penchev - 2020 - Semantics eJournal (Elsevier: SSRN) 2 (18):1-4.
    Quantum mechanics admits a “linguistic interpretation” if one equates preliminary any quantum state of some whether quantum entity or word, i.e. a wave function interpret-able as an element of the separable complex Hilbert space. All possible Feynman pathways can link to each other any two semantic units such as words or term in any theory. Then, the causal reasoning would correspond to the case of classical mechanics (a single trajectory, in which any next point is causally conditioned), and the probabilistic (...)
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  36. Semantics of DP Islands: The Case of Questions.Alexandra Simonenko - 2015 - Journal of Semantics:ffv011.
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  37. In SituInterpretation Without Type Mismatches.Edward L. Keenan - 2014 - Journal of Semantics:ffu016.
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  38. Truth, Force, and Knowledge in Language: Essays on Semantic and Pragmatic Topics.Savas L. Tsohatzidis - 2020 - Berlin & Boston: De Gruyter.
  39. Multiplicity and Modifiers.Jacopo Romoli & Agata Renans - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (3):455-474.
    A sentence with an adverbial modifier under negation like Mike didn’t wash the window with soap gives rise to an inference that Mike did wash the window. A sentence with a plural noun like Mike washed windows gives rise to a so-called ‘multiplicity’ inference that Mike washed multiple windows. In this note, we focus on the interaction between these two inferences in sentences containing both an adverbial modifier and a plural noun under negation, like Mike didn’t wash windows with soap. (...)
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  40. Dependent Plurality and the Theory of Scalar Implicatures: Remarks on Zweig 2009.Natalia Ivlieva - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (3):425-454.
    Following a recent discussion in Fox & Spector 2018, this paper provides an argument for a particular view of the theory of scalar implicatures and exhaustification where exhaustification is only allowed if it alters the overall sentence meaning without weakening it. I show that this idea is helpful to make sense of the so-called dependent plural interpretations, addressed within the theory of scalar implicatures in Zweig 2009. Even though Zweig’s account is based on insightful and plausible assumptions, it ultimately fails (...)
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  41. The Semantics of Evidentials in Questions.Diti Bhadra - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (3):367-423.
    This paper presents a novel cross-linguistic exploration of the phenomenon of Interrogative Flip at the semantics-pragmatics interfaces. Most previous studies describe an obligatory shift in the anchor of an evidential from the speaker to the addressee in interrogatives, across a diverse set of languages. In this work, we discuss a lesser-studied set of facts, which show that in many languages this shift does not take place. Modeling the contribution of evidentials with ‘judge’-sensitivity in the semantics and with newly refined notions (...)
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  42. Definiteness, Uniqueness, and Maximality in Languages With and Without Articles.Radek Šimík & Christoph Demian - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (3):311-366.
    We present a number of experiments testing influential hypotheses about the meaning of definite descriptions and bare nominals. Our results are in line with the commonly entertained hypothesis that definite descriptions convey uniqueness or maximality, but fail to support two hypotheses about bare nominal interpretation, namely that singular bare nominals convey uniqueness and that topical bare nominals convey uniqueness/maximality. Uniqueness or maximality inferences are expected to arise via covert type-shifting under these approaches. Our results are compatible with what we take (...)
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  43. The Birth of Semantics.Richard Kimberly Heck & Robert C. May - 2020 - Journal for the History of Analytical Philosophy 8 (6):1-31.
    We attempt here to trace the evolution of Frege’s thought about truth. What most frames the way we approach the problem is a recognition that hardly any of Frege’s most familiar claims about truth appear in his earliest work. We argue that Frege’s mature views about truth emerge from a fundamental re-thinking of the nature of logic instigated, in large part, by a sustained engagement with the work of George Boole and his followers, after the publication of Begriffsschrift and the (...)
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  44. Kripkeans of the World, Unite!Farjana Islam & Giosuè Baggio - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):297-309.
    This paper revisits a study by Machery et al., suggesting that, in experimental versions of Kripke’s fictional cases on the use of proper names, Westerners are more likely than East Asian participants to show intuitions compatible with Kripke’s causal-historical theory of reference. We conducted two experiments, recruting participants from Norway and Bangladesh, either in English or in the participants’ native languages, using modified cases and a new approach to data analysis. We replicated the results of Machery et al., but we (...)
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  45. A Causal Semantics of IS Generics.Robert van Rooij & Katrin Schulz - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):269-295.
    The felicity, or acceptability, of IS generics, i.e. generic sentences with indefinite singulars, is considerably more restricted compared to BP generics, generics with bare plurals. The goal of this paper is to account for the limited felicity of IS generics compared to BP generics, on the one hand, while preserving the close similarity between the two types of generics, on the other. We do so by proposing a causal analysis of IS generics, and show that this corresponds closely with a (...)
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  46. Do Children Interpret ‘or’ Conjunctively?Dimitrios Skordos, Roman Feiman, Alan Bale & David Barner - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):247-267.
    Preschoolers often struggle to compute scalar implicatures involving disjunction, in which they are required to strengthen an utterance by negating stronger alternatives, e.g. to infer that, ‘The girl has an apple or an orange’ likely means she does not have both. However, recent reports surprisingly find that a substantial subset of children interpret disjunction as conjunction, concluding instead that the girl must have both fruits. According to these studies, children arrive at conjunctive readings not because they have a non-adult-like semantics, (...)
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  47. Disjunction Triggers Exhaustivity Implicatures in 4- to 5-Year-Olds: Investigating the Role of Access to Alternatives.Nicole Gotzner, David Barner & Stephen Crain - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):219-245.
    Children’s difficulty deriving scalar implicatures has been attributed to a variety of factors including processing limitations, an inability to access scalar alternatives, and pragmatic tolerance. The present research explores the nature of children’s difficulty by investigating a previously unexplored kind of inference—an exhaustivity implicature that is triggered by disjunction. We reasoned that if children are able to draw quantity implicatures but have difficulties accessing alternative lexical expressions from a scale, then they should perform better on exhaustivity implicatures than on scalar (...)
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  48. Function Alternations of the Mandarin Particle Dou: Distributor, Free Choice Licensor, and ‘Even’.Yimei Xiang - 2020 - Journal of Semantics 37 (2):171-217.
    Many languages have particles that possess multiple logical functions. Take the Mandarin particle dou for example. Varying by the item it is associated with and the prosodic pattern of the environment it appears in, dou can trigger a distributivity effect, license a pre-verbal free choice item, or evoke an even-like inference. Considering universal grammar a simple system, we need to figure out, for a multi-functional particle, which of its functions is primary, what parametric variations are responsible for the alternations in (...)
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  49. Variation in Tense and Aspect, and the Temporal Interpretation of Complement Clauses.M. Ryan Bochnak, Vera Hohaus & Anne Mucha - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (3):407-452.
    In this paper, we investigate the temporal interpretation of propositional attitude complement clauses in four typologically unrelated languages: Washo, Medumba, Hausa, and Samoan. Of these languages, Washo and Medumba are optional-tense languages, while Hausa and Samoan are tenseless. Just like in obligatory-tense languages, we observe variation among these languages when it comes to the availability of so-called simultaneous and backward-shifted readings of complement clauses. For our optional-tense languages, we argue that a Sequence of Tense parameter is active in these languages, (...)
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  50. Suppression in Interpreting Adjective Noun Combinations and the Nature of the Lexicon.Lotte Hogeweg - 2019 - Journal of Semantics 36 (4):721-751.
    A common assumption about our internal lexicon is that the meaning of words is underspecified and this underspecified representation is filled in based on the context in which the word occurs. In this paper I would like to explore a different hypothesis, that words are stored with overspecified representations which are ‘trimmed down’ by the context. This view seems to be in line with a well-known mechanism from psycholinguistics: suppression. Many studies have shown that conceptual properties of a word are (...)
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