Optimality theoretic semantics

Linguistics and Philosophy 24 (1):1-32 (2001)
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Abstract

The aim of this article is to elucidate the processes that characterize natural language interpretation. The basic hypothesis is that natural language interpretation can be characterized as an optimization problem. This innovative view on interpretation is shown to account for the crucial role of contextual information while avoiding certain well-known problems associated withcompositionality. This will become particularly clear in the context of incomplete expressions. Our approach takes as a point of departure total freedom ofinterpretation in combination with the parallel application of soft constraints on possible interpretations. These constraints can be contextual, intonational or syntactic in nature. The integration of pragmatic andsyntactic/semantic information in a system of ranked constraints is proposed to correctly derive the optimal interpretations in cases of nominal anaphorization, determiner quantification and elliptical comparatives.

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Citations of this work

Zero tolerance for pragmatics.Christopher Gauker - 2008 - Synthese 165 (3):359–371.
Signalling games select horn strategies.Robert van Rooy - 2004 - Linguistics and Philosophy 27 (4):493-527.
Bidirectional Optimization from Reasoning and Learning in Games.Michael Franke & Gerhard Jäger - 2012 - Journal of Logic, Language and Information 21 (1):117-139.

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References found in this work

A theory of focus interpretation.Mats Rooth - 1992 - Natural Language Semantics 1 (1):75-116.
Presupposition.David I. Beaver - 1997 - In J. F. A. K. Van Benthem, Johan van Benthem & Alice G. B. Ter Meulen (eds.), Handbook of Logic and Language. Elsevier.
Determiners and context sets.Dag Westerståhl - 1984 - In Johan Van Benthem & Alice Ter Meulen (eds.), Generalized Quantifiers in Natural Language. Foris Publications. pp. 45--71.

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