Events in the Semantics of English: A Study in Subatomic Semantics

MIT Press (1990)
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Abstract

This extended investigation of the semantics of event (and state) sentences in their various forms is a major contribution to the semantics of natural language, simultaneously encompassing important issues in linguistics, philosophy, and logic. It develops the view that the logical forms of simple English sentences typically contain quantification over events or states and shows how this view can account for a wide variety of semantic phenomena. Focusing on the structure of meaning in English sentences at a &"subatomic&" level&-that is, a level below the one most theories accept as basic or &"atomic&"&-Parsons asserts that the semantics of simple English sentences require logical forms somewhat more complex than is normally assumed in natural language semantics. His articulation of underlying event theory explains a wide variety of apparently diverse semantic characteristics of natural language, and his development of the theory shows the importance of seeing the distinction between events and states. Parsons demonstrates that verbs, also, indicate kinds of actions rather than specific, individual actions. Verb phrases, too, he argues, depend on modifiers to make their function and meaning in a sentence specific. An appendix gives many of the details needed to formalize the theory discussed in the body of the text and provides a series of templates that permit the generation of atomic formulas of English.

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Terence Parsons
University of California, Los Angeles

Citations of this work

Events.Roberto Casati & Achille C. Varzi - 2020 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Cognitive Functions of Language.Peter Carruthers - 2002 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (6):657-674.
Logical Form: Between Logic and Natural Language.Andrea Iacona - 2018 - Cham, Switzerland: Springer Verlag.

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