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Semantics Questions? Comments? ØProblem Set 4 due 5/20 ØProblem Set 5 due 5/29 ØExercises for Chapter 6: 1, 2, 3, 12, 18 due 5/22 Goals for Semantics chapter Ø Not responsible for Section 3. 4 (interpretation of pronouns) You should know how to do the following: ØIdentify the relation among words and sentences ØUnderstand the different theories of meaning ØStructural versus lexical ambiguity ØThematic roles ØPragmatics - Especially 4. 4 Conversational Maxims
Semantics Slide 1 Semantics is the study of the meaning in human language. Have you ever said in frustration, “Well that’s not what I meant!” - what happened?
Semantics Slide 2 Semantics ØSemantic relations that exist among words ØSynonymy (words that are synonyms) - words that have the same meaning in some or all contexts ØAntonymy (words that are antonyms) - words that have the opposite meaning of each other (with regard to some component of their meaning) ØPolysemy - when a word has 2 or more related meanings ØHomophony - when 2 words (same pronunciation) has 2 or more entirely distinct meanings (sound the same but don’t have to have same spelling) ØLEXICAL AMBIGUITY = when a single form has 2 or more meanings (polysemy and homophony)
Semantics Slide 3 Semantics ØSemantic relations that exist among phrases and sentences ØParaphrase (like synonyms) - 2 sentences that can have the same meaning Øa. The cat chased the squirrel. Øb. The squirrel was chased by the cat. ØThe relationship between the above sentences is that if one is true, then the other must be true as well. They are said to have the same truth condition ØWhen the truth of one sentence guarantees the truth of another, we say that there is a relation of entailment - the above example is mutual in that either sentence entails the other ØRelation can be asymmetrical: Øa. The cat killed the squirrel. Øb. The squirrel is dead ØIf a is true, then b must be true, but not vice versa
Semantics Slide 4 Semantics ØContradiction - if one sentence is true, than the other must be false Øa. Jeff is an only child. Øb. Jeff has an older sister. Ø Both sentences cannot both be true, then one contradicts the other
Semantics Practice Semantics 5 Semantics Practice steal (to rob) steel (metal) homophones I saw Craig at the party. It was Craig I saw at the party. paraphrase grass (cows eat) grass (marijuana) polysemes Jeff is an only child. Jeff’s sister is Julie. contradiction The cat killed the mouse. The mouse is dead. entailment Exercises 1, 2, 3
Semantics Slide 6 Semantics ØWhat exactly is meaning? ØAs native speakers of a language, we all know the meaning of a great many words in our language. If we don’t know the meaning, we look it up in the dictionary. But to understand the definition, we have to know the meaning of those words. . . ØIt is easier to determine the semantic relation between words than the precise meaning of a word. There attempts at some theories of meaning. . .
Semantics Slide 7 Semantics ØWhat exactly is meaning? Theories of meaning Ø Connotation - according to this theory, a word’s meaning is simply the set of associations that the word evokes - desert evokes hot, dry, sandy Ø Denotation - according to this theory, a word’s meaning is not the set of associations it evokes, but rather the entity to which it refers = its denotation or referent in the real world - desert would refer to that set of regions in the world characterized by barrenness and lack of rain ØProblems with these theories? A desert with no sand, unicorn, the President of the United States AND the leader of the free world OR Michelle Obama’s husband
Semantics Slide 8 Semantics ØWhat exactly is meaning? Ø Extension/Intensions - combines denotation and connotation - extension refers to the referents in the real world and intension is the associations that a word evokes. desert = extension = a barren, dry region in the world such as the Gobi or Sahara. intension = having to do with barrenness and dryness, not a specific region Ø Extension is the referent while intension is the mental image - in this case, unicorn or ogre have no extension, only intension - but what about Shrek?
Semantics Slide 9 Semantics ØWhat exactly is meaning? Theories of meaning Ø Componential Analysis - this theory is based on the idea that meaning can be decomposed into smaller semantic units (like features in phonology). Ø [+living, +human, -adult] gives us the category child
Semantics Slide 10 Semantics ØWhat exactly is meaning? Problems with theories Ø Connotation - different people have different associations for words, and associations do not necessarily get at meaning Ø Denotation - it cannot account for entities that exist in an imaginary realm Ø Extension/Intension - can account for entities in imagination, but still don’t get at what meaning actually is Ø Componential analysis - works relatively well, but it is difficult to specify all the features that would be needed. Also, it is difficult to determine smaller units of meaning for some words (blue versus yellow or orange)
Semantics Practice Semantics 11 Semantics Practice Describe the intensions and extensions of each of theses phrases. Extension Intension a) the president of the US Barak Obama US head of state b) the queen of England Elizabeth II British monarch (or the wife of British monarch) c) the capital of Indianapolis city containing the state legislature d) women who have walked on the moon none set of females who have walked on the lunar surface e) my linguistics professor Jeff the person charged with teaching the ling course in which I am enrolled
Semantics Slide 12 Semantics Ø Concepts - the system we use to identify, classify and organize all elements of our experiences. Our conceptual system reveals how meaning is expressed through language. Ø Fuzzy Concepts - concepts that can differ from person to person - no clearcut boundaries - expensive or even smart, beautiful, ugly
Semantics Slide 13 Semantics Graded Membership - members of a concept can be graded according to how typical they are within that concept - most typical is prototype - other members are arranged around the prototype - members having more in common with the prototype occur closer to the prototype, and less in common, further away ØWhat is meaning of vegetable? What is a prototypical vegetable?
Semantics Slide 14 Semantics Ø Metaphor - the concepts expressed by language do not exist in isolation, but are interconnected and associated. Metaphor = the understanding of one concept in terms of another can be used to make these connections. Ø emotions connected to up and down
Semantics Slide 15 Semantics Lexicalization - process whereby concepts are encoded into the words of a language and is language specific. Some English words contain both the concept of motion and the manner of motion (roll, crawl, slither). Spanish does not and both concepts need to be lexicalized (2 different words - 1 for motion and 1 for manner). Spanish has verbs (native English words do not) that show motion and direction go up = subir; go down = bajar (Eskimo words for snow/NW word for rain) By studying what concepts are lexicalized we can find out if there are common or universal concepts that are or are not lexicalized in any given language See Figure 6. 3 for example
Semantics Slide 16 Semantics Ø Grammaticization - concepts that are expressed as affixes or nonlexical categories. Concepts such as tense, number and negation are often grammaticized across languages. Hidatsa statements accompanied by a morpheme that indicates the evidence for its truth (certainty, common knowledge, etc) See Table 6. 13, p. 220 - Book says English doesn’t really have this - do you agree? ØWhat about -ish? Do you think this morpheme grammaticizes uncertainty?
Semantics Slide 17 Semantics ØWhat about wanna, kinda, sorta, like? How do express future tense in Englsih? will/gonna? going to gonna grammaticized only for future, not for any combination of going + to.
Semantics Practice Semantics 18 Semantics Practice In English, are these concepts fuzzy, graded or have been grammaticized? the comparative or superlative grammaticized cats graded mountains graded, fuzzy grammaticized fuzzy time vegetables graded
Semantics Slide 19 Semantics Ø Principle of Compositionality - The meaning of a sentence is determined by the meaning of its component parts and the manner in which they are arranged in syntactic structure. Ø How is syntactic structure relevant for meaning? Ø Constructional meaning - the meaning of a sentence defined by the construction ØThe caused motion construction X causes Y to go somewhere: Jeff mashed the book into the backpack. NP VP NP PP ØThe ditransitive construction X causes Y to have Z: The bartender blended George a margarita. NP VP NP NP
Semantics Slide 20 Semantics ØAmbiguity ØStructural Ambiguity - 2 sentences with the same word order but with different meanings due to the structural relationship that the sentences have (e. g. , I met the woman standing by the water cooler. ) Øwealthy men and women
Semantics Slide 21 Semantics ØAmbiguity ØLexical Ambiguity - 1 word in a sentence having more than one meaning (caused by polysemy or homophony) ØThe glasses are on the table ØEye glasses or drinking glasses? ? ?
Semantics Slide 22 Semantics Ø Thematic Roles (theta roles) - used to categorize the relation between a sentence’s parts and the event it describes. ØAgent (actor) = the entity that performs the action ØTheme = the entity undergoing an action of movement ØSource = the starting point for a movement ØGoal = the end point for a movement ØLocation = the place where an action takes place
Semantics Practice Semantics 23 Semantics Practice Identify thematic roles in the following examples and determine which verb/preposition assigned the role Sara drove the bus from Seattle to Portland. agent theme source goal The children ate their ice cream in the kitchen. agent theme location Which shoes did Jake buy at the store? theme agent location Ø Thematic Roles (theta roles) - used to categorize the relation between a sentence’s parts and the event it describes. ØAgent (actor) = the entity that performs the action ØTheme = the entity undergoing an action of movement ØSource = the starting point for a movement ØGoal = the end point for a movement ØLocation = the place where an action takes place
Semantics Slide 24 Semantics Ø Thematic Roles assignment - Thematic roles are assigned to NPs based on their position within the sentence. Typically, verbs and prepositions assign thematic roles. Ø VERBS: Assign the agent role to its subject NP; Assign theme role to its complement NP (Both are optional) ØPREPOSITIONS: Assign a thematic role (the specific one depends on the preposition) to its complement NP ØThematic roles are assigned at deep structure. What did the students throw? has the deep structure The students threw what - The verb threw assigns the agent role to the students and theme role to what. What retains this role even after Move changes its position in the structure.
Semantics Slide Semantics 25 Semantics Ø Thematic Roles assignment IP I' NP VP N' V' NP N' Det N The students I +Pst V threw
Semantics Slide Semantics 26 Semantics Ø Thematic Roles assignment IP I' NP VP N' V' NP N' Det N The students I +Pst V N threw what
Semantics Slide Semantics 27 CP NP N' Exercise 12 C' C +Q IP I' NP VP N' I +Pst V' NP N' N What theme Det did the agent N students I +Pst V N t throw t
Semantics Slide 28 Semantics Pragmatics Ø Pragmatics - the study of meaning as it relates to speaker’s and addressee’s background attitudes and beliefs, their understanding of the context in which a sentence is uttered, and their knowledge of how language can be used to inform, persuade, mislead, etc. Ø Focuses on utterances - sentences that are spoken within a given context (the same sentence spoken 2 different times is 2 different utterances - why? )
Semantics Slide 29 Semantics Pragmatics ØBeliefs and attitudes ØThe city council denied the demonstrators a permit because they advocated violence ØThe city council denied the demonstrators a permit because they abhorred violence ØThe architect gave the secretary a raise after she typed the report. ØA man and his son were in a car accident and rushed to the hospital. When the boy arrived, the surgeon declared, “That’s my son. I cannot operate on him!” Who is the surgeon?
Semantics Slide 30 Semantics Pragmatics ØPresupposition - the assumption or belief implied by the use of a particular word. ØJohn admitted/believed that the soccer team had cheated. ØPresupposition cannot be canceled out if the opposite of the event is true. ØJohn admitted that the soccer team had cheated, but the team had not cheated VS. John believed that the soccer team had cheated, but the team had not cheated. Øadmitted presupposes that the team had in fact cheated, whereas believed does not
Semantics Practice 31 Semantics Pragmatics Practice Ø Presupposition - the assumption or belief implied by the use of a particular word. Which word has the presupposition and what is it? 1) 2) Identify the sentence that contains the presupposition. Locate the word that is responsible for the presupposition. a) John regrets that Maria went to the graduation ceremony. John believes that Maria went to the graduation ceremony b) The captain thought that the ship was in danger. The captain realized that the ship was in danger. c) It is significant that the criminal was sentenced. It is likely that the criminal was sentenced
Semantics Slide 32 Semantics Pragmatics ØSetting/Deictics - the form and interpretation of some words depend on the location of the speaker and listener within a particular setting. These words are called deictics. Øhere/there - this/that - these ones/those ones - can only have meaning from their use
Semantics Slide 33 Semantics Pragmatics ØDiscourse - the term used to describe the connected speech of utterances that are produced during a conversation, lecture, story, or other kind of speech act. ØUsing pronouns in a story to refer back to already introduced nouns. Meaning depends on the entire discourse. ØTopic - old versus new information - differences in the use of a or the in English ØDiscourse words like anyways to start an utterance - what does this mean to you?
Semantics Slide 34 Semantics Pragmatics How do we interpret the following sentences and how does the choice of words influence that interpretation? 1. Karen was killed/murdered in a car accident. 2. Kevin declared/acknowledged that the accusation was false. 3. a. A priest was at the hospital. b. The priest was at a hospital. 4. When I come/go back to China, I’ll climb the Great Wall.
Semantics Slide 35 Semantics Pragmatics Speech Acts: Sometimes we actually do more than communicate thoughts during speech. Things we do during speech (acts): Apologize, compliment, make requests, etc. The meaning of these speech acts often is from conventionalized forms more than the words themselves, but we have gotten used to requests in certain forms. Can you hand me that book? What is the meaning of this question? What is the speech act?
Semantics Slide 36 Semantics Pragmatics ØConversations: The Cooperative Principle = Make your contribution appropriate to the conversation. ØConversational Maxims (p. 233) ØRelevance: Make your contribution relevant to the conversation. ØQuality: Make your contribution truthful. ØQuantity: Make your contribution only as informative as required. ØManner: Make your contribution unambiguous, clear, and logical.
Semantics Slide Semantics 37 Pragmatics Conversational Maxims (p. 233) ØConversational Implicature: During the course of the conversation, we are often able to make inferences about what is meant but was not actually said. Implying a meaning in a given conversation by flouting the above maxims. (Not lying) ØEXAMPLES?
Semantics Slide 38 Semantics Pragmatics ØCan you pass the salt? ØParent to child with injured arm vs. Parent to child at dinner. ØWhat are the differences in what is implied/implicated? ØLetter of rec for computer IT job that says: The employee always speaks quietly and dresses well. Also, they don’t eat fish at lunch. . ØWhat maxim is being violated? What is the implicature of the letter? Exercise 18