relations between events both require a more complex structure on the domain underlying the meaning representations than is commonly assumed. This paper proposes an ontology based on such notions as causation and consequence, rather than on purely temporal primitives. A central notion in the ontology..
There is no doubt that the model presented here is incomplete. Many important categories, particularly negation and the adverbials, have been entirely ignored, and the treatment of Tense and the affixes is certainly inadequate. It also remains to be seen how the many constructions that have been ignored here are to be accommodated within the framework that has been outlined. However, the fact that a standard categorial lexicon, plus the four rule schemata, seems to come close to exhaustively specifying the (...) main clause constructions of English, and also seems to explain a number of major constraints on transformations, encourages us to compare the theory with certain alternatives, and to examine its broader implications. (shrink)
The idea that natural language grammar and planned action are relatedsystems has been implicit in psychological theory for more than acentury. However, formal theories in the two domains have tendedto look very different. This article argues that both faculties sharethe formal character of applicative systems based on operationscorresponding to the same two combinatory operations, namely functional composition and type-raising. Viewing them in thisway suggests simpler and more cognitively plausible accounts of bothsystems, and suggests that the language faculty evolved in the (...) speciesand develops in children by a rather direct adaptation of a moreprimitive apparatus for planning purposive action in the world bycomposing affordances of objects or tools. Theknowledge representation that underlies such planning is alsoreflected in the natural language semantics of tense, mood, andaspect, which the paper begins by arguing provides the key tounderstanding both systems. (shrink)
Both formal semantics and cognitive semantics are the source of important insights about language. By developing precise statements of the rules of meaning in fragmentary, abstract languages, formalists have been able to offer perspicuous accounts of how we might come to know such rules and use them to communicate with others. Conversely, by charting the overall landscape of interpretations, cognitivists have documented how closely interpretations draw on the commonsense knowledge that lets us make our way in the world. There is (...) no opposition between these insights. Sooner or later we will have a semantics that responds to both. However, developing such a semantics is profoundly difficult, because there are certain tensions to be overcome in reconciling the two perspectives. For one thing, the overall landscape of meaning does seem to be characterized by a much richer ontology and more dynamic categories than are exhibited by the fragments typically studied in the formal tradition. One sign of strain is the recent tendency to talk of “procedural”, “non-compositional”, or “computational” semantics, as in Hamm, Kamp and van Lambalgen 2006, hereafter HK&vL. We think such locutions can serve as useful reminders to keep semantics fixed on the central question of how language allows us to share information that some have and others need to get. However, there is some danger that formalists will merely by put off by an idea that, taken literally, may not be such a good one. In this short article, we want to explore and defend the traditional realist view attributed by HK&vL to Lewis among others. In fact, this view offers a well-developed, extremely straightforward and robust account of the relation between semantics and cognition. Moreover, while the realist view has ways of accommodating the representationalist insights of DRT (Lewis 1979; Thomason 1990; Stalnaker 1998), it remains unclear how “computational” semantics can account for the key data for the realist view: cases where we judge interlocutors to be ignorant about aspects of meaning in their native language (Kripke 1972; Putnam 1975; Stalnaker 1979; Williamson 1994).. (shrink)
The paper proposes a semantics for contextual (i.e., Temporal and Locative) Prepositional Phrases (CPPs) like during every meeting, in the garden, when Harry met Sally and where I’m calling from. The semantics is embodied in a multi-modal extension of Combinatory Categoral Grammar (CCG). The grammar allows the strictly monotonic compositional derivation of multiple correct interpretations for “stacked” or multiple CPPs, including interpretations whose scope relations are not what would be expected on standard assumptions about surfacesyntactic command and monotonic derivation. A (...) type-hierarchy of functional modalities plays a crucial role in the specification of the fragment. (shrink)
To model behavioral and neural correlates of language comprehension in naturalistic environments, researchers have turned to broad‐coverage tools from natural‐language processing and machine learning. Where syntactic structure is explicitly modeled, prior work has relied predominantly on context‐free grammars (CFGs), yet such formalisms are not sufficiently expressive for human languages. Combinatory categorial grammars (CCGs) are sufficiently expressive directly compositional models of grammar with flexible constituency that affords incremental interpretation. In this work, we evaluate whether a more expressive CCG provides a better (...) model than a CFG for human neural signals collected with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) while participants listen to an audiobook story. We further test between variants of CCG that differ in how they handle optional adjuncts. These evaluations are carried out against a baseline that includes estimates of next‐word predictability from a transformer neural network language model. Such a comparison reveals unique contributions of CCG structure‐building predominantly in the left posterior temporal lobe: CCG‐derived measures offer a superior fit to neural signals compared to those derived from a CFG. These effects are spatially distinct from bilateral superior temporal effects that are unique to predictability. Neural effects for structure‐building are thus separable from predictability during naturalistic listening, and those effects are best characterized by a grammar whose expressive power is motivated on independent linguistic grounds. (shrink)
This paper argues that the faculty of language comes essentially for free in evolutionary terms, by grace of a capacity shared with some evolutionarily quite distantly related animals for deliberatively planning action in the world. The reason humans have language of a kind that animals do not is because of a qualitative difference in the nature of human plans rather than anything unique to language.