Semantics

Download Informal Lectures on Formal Semantics by Emmon Bach PDF

By Emmon Bach

This booklet is an creation to the present advancements in model-theoretic semantics, which has develop into an important a part of the paintings in theoretical linguistics during the last decade. the writer examines the version constitution of Montague’s thought after which offers gildings in this uncomplicated version which have been of specific value within the previous few years: generalized quantifiers, the advent of extra constitution within the area of people, houses as primitive parts within the version, occasions and related ’smaller’ global like entities. not anything is presupposed approximately wisdom of the mathematical and logical instruments utilized in formal semantics, and Bach provides the casual with at least formalism.

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So, if I say, as I said last time, that the predicate Run denotes a set of individuals, a shorthand way of saying this is: D(Run) = the set of individuals that run. Or, we can say things like this: D(b) = a certain individual, say Bill, in the model. Thus, to repeat, the evaluation function is simply a way of assigning elements of the model to expressions of the language. Now, I want to spend some time talking about the assignment of values to variables because it is a rather tricky point which we must be clear; it will help us understand what we are doing.

Although natural language has always been a source of insights throughout the history of logic, the aim of logic has usually not been the analysis of natural language, but rather the analysis of deduction, especially (in modern times) the kind of deductions common in the mathematical disciplines. Many of the philosophers and logicians who took part in this development, as I mentioned before, took the view that natural languages were far too obscure, ambiguous, and ill-structured to be amenable to the kind of treatment that they were proposing in their treatment of logic.

Excursus on the Fundamental Nature of Linguistic Items. It is easy to become confused about what the linguistic things or expressions are that we deal with when we want to talk precisely about language. We have to remind beginning students again and again that they should not identify words with their written form. As linguists, we have gotten used to the primary nature of speech (or sign in the languages of the deaf) in thinking about language. But we have our own traps. We cannot identify the phonological form of an expression with the expression itself.

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