Minimal Semantic Instructions

In Boeckx Cedric (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism. Oxford University Press. pp. 472-498 (2011)

Paul Pietroski
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Chomsky’s (1995, 2000a) Minimalist Program (MP) invites a perspective on semantics that is distinctive and attractive. In section one, I discuss a general idea that many theorists should find congenial: the spoken or signed languages that human children naturally acquire and use— henceforth, human languages—are biologically implemented procedures that generate expressions, whose meanings are recursively combinable instructions to build concepts that reflect a minimal interface between the Human Faculty of Language (HFL) and other cognitive systems. In sections two and three, I develop this picture in the spirit of MP, in part by asking how much of the standard Frege-Tarski apparatus is needed in order to provide adequate and illuminating descriptions of the “concept assembly instructions” that human languages can generate. I’ll suggest that we can make do with relatively little, by treating all phrasal meanings as instructions to assemble number-neutral concepts that are monadic and conjunctive. But the goal is not to legislate what counts as minimal in semantics. Rather, by pursuing one line of Minimalist thought, I hope to show how such thinking can be fruitful.
Keywords minimalism  Chomksy  internalism  semantics
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References found in this work BETA

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Vision.David Marr - 1982 - W. H. Freeman.

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Citations of this work BETA

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