In the opening sections of this paper, we defined ambiguity in terms of distinct sentences (for a single sentence-string) with, in particular, distinct sets of truth conditions for the corresponding negative sentence-string. Lexical vagueness was defined as equivalent to disjunction, for under conditions of the negation of a sentence-string containing such an expression, all the relevant more specific interpretations of the string had also to be negated. Yet in the case of mixed quantification sentences, the strengthened, more specific, interpretations of (...) some such positive string are not all of them necessarily implied to be false if the corresponding negative sentence-string is asserted. On the contrary, as we saw in section 6, a negative sentence-string can be used to deny one of the more specific interpretations of the corresponding positive string without also denying other weaker interpretations of that same string. One might therefore argue that the only empirical evidence availble for assessing quantified sentences suggests clearly that these sentence-strings are ambiguous. Indeed logicians, many of whom restrict their attention to propositions, MUST recognise logical ambiguity at this point. For the contextualisation of the negative sentences in section 6 showed that it was possible to assert the falsity of some proposition P expressed by the sentence S while asserting a further proposition which was compatible with the truth of S. However the corresponding conclusion that such sentence-strings are sententially ambiguous is not a necessary conclusion for the linguist: for the alternative account of postulating a single semantic representation plus a set of semantic procedures is also compatible with the negation evidence. Moreover we have seen independent reasons for thinking that if sentential ambiguity is assumed to be in one-to-one correspondence with what we should now call logical ambiguity, a considerable body of generalisations is lost. For the maximal ambiguity account, it should be recalled, is committed to assigning at least thirteen distinct propositions and hence thirteen distinct sentence outputs for every sentence-string containing no more than two quantifiers, for three out of the four interpretations originally outlined in this paper can be understood with each numeral taken either in an ’exactly’ sense or in an ’at least’ sense. Moreover there is no explanation of why just these interpretations are available-they are merely an arbitrary list, no more connected than are the two interpretations of John saw her duck, with no reason to predict that the ambiguity would carry over from language to language. If then it is granted that an ambiguity account fails to capture appropriate generalisations, only two alternative accounts of mixed quantification sentence-strings remain viable-an analysis proposing an initial co-ordinate logical form like the logical form III, which is the strongest form compatible with each of the propositional interpretations of sentence-string Two examiners marked six scripts, and the radically weak form in which only existential quantification (both over sets and over members of those sets) is invoked. Since there are strong arguments to suggest that the procedures which both analyses require are semantic, there seems no reason not to adopt the radical vagueness account, with its considerably greater simplicity. (shrink)
Semantics is a bridge discipline between linguistics and philosophy; but linguistics student are rarely able to reach that bridge, let alone cross it to inspect and assess the activity on the other side. Professor Kempson's textbook seeks particularly to encourage such exchanges. She deals with the standard linguistic topics like componential analysis, semantic universals and the syntax-semantics controversy. But she also provides for students with no training in philosophy or logic an introduction to such central topics in the philosophy of (...) language as logical form, truth, speech acts, analyticity, entailment and presupposition. The exposition throughout is deliberately argumentative rather than descriptive, introducing the student step by step to the major problems in theoretical semantics. Special emphasis is placed on the need to consider individual arguments within the overall perspective of semantics as an integral part of general linguistic theory. Written primarily as a textbook for undergraduates and graduates in linguistics departments, this book will also be useful to undergraduates in philosophy and in psychology where linguistics is a part of their course. (shrink)
In this paper we adopt the hypothesis that languages are mechanisms for interaction, and that grammars encode the means by which such interaction may take place, by use of procedures that construct representations of meaning from strings of words uttered in context, and conversely strings of words are built up from representations of content in interaction with context. In a review of the systemic use of ellipsis in dialogue and associated split-utterance phenomena, we show how, in Dynamic Syntax, words give (...) rise to a range of procedures for the building of representations of the content of some utterance, which both speakers and hearers use. We then extend the discussion to take account of adjuncts, showing how they contribute to content construction both in single utterances and across speakers. The same mechanisms are then shown to underlie the building of inferential extensions of meaning in context, giving rise to the creation of the ad hoc concepts expressed by phrases or single words in relation to the utterance context and ultimately to the creation of metaphorical uses of language. (shrink)
Using the LDSNL model of utterance interpretation being developed by Gabbay and Kempson , this paper demonstrates how the dynamics of the proof process adopted explains configurational restrictions imposed on the interpretation of elliptical fragments. The blurring of traditional semantic and syntactic dichotomies in the LDSNL proof-theoretic reconstruction of interpretation successfully provides a basis for predicting the array of variation displayed by different elliptical forms. The logic adopted is a composite system of a type logic nested within a database logic. (...) Two resource-sensitive sub-types of Conditional Introduction form the basis for explaining the ellipsis data. The result is a demonstration of how the simple device of adding labels to an inference system can provide a useful tool not only at the meta-logic level of comparing alternative logic and grammar formalisms, but also at the level of explaining natural language data. (shrink)
This commentary argues that dialogue alignment can be explained if parsing-directed grammar formalisms are adopted. With syntax defined as monotonic growth of semantic representations as each word is parsed, alignment between interlocutors is shown to be expected. Hence, grammars can be evaluated according to relative success in characterizing dialogue phenomena.
This paper describes a prototype implementation of a Labelled Deduction System for natural language interpretation, where interpretation is taken to be the process of understanding a natural language utterance. The implementation models the process of understanding wh-gap dependencies in questions and relative clauses for a fragment of English. The paper is divided in three main sections. In Section 1, we introduce the basic architecture of the system. Section 2 outlines a prototype implementation of wh-binding and indicates its potential for explanation (...) of linguistic phenomena, and in Section 3 we briefly set the model within a large theoretical perspective, comparing it to other type-logical approaches to natural language analysis. (shrink)
The study of meaning in language has developed dramatically over the last fifty years. Semantics is distinctive as it not only presents a general introduction to the topic, including the most recent developments, but it also provides a unique perspective for addressing current issues. It opens by introducing readers to the study of logic as the background against which developments have taken place. This demonstrates the link between semantics and the study of reasoning and how this view can provide new (...) solutions to the puzzles that have plagued the approaches presented in other textbooks. The major subject areas of semantics are discussed, including quantification, anaphora and discourse, tense and aspect, ellipsis and context, and word meaning. The book also presents state-of-the-art research in topics at the forefront of semantics. (shrink)
This groundbreaking collection, the most thorough treatment of the philosophy of linguistics ever published, brings together philosophers, scientists and historians to map out both the foundational assumptions set during the second half of ...