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Theories in semantics

Model theoretic semantics

{{#invoke:main|main}} Originates from Montague's work (see above). A highly formalized theory of natural language semantics in which expressions are assigned denotations (meanings) such as individuals, truth values, or functions from one of these to another. The truth of a sentence, and more interestingly, its logical relation to other sentences, is then evaluated relative to a model.

Formal (or truth-conditional) semantics

{{#invoke:main|main}} Pioneered by the philosopher Donald Davidson, another formalized theory, which aims to associate each natural language sentence with a meta-language description of the conditions under which it is true, for example: 'Snow is white' is true if and only if snow is white. The challenge is to arrive at the truth conditions for any sentences from fixed meanings assigned to the individual words and fixed rules for how to combine them. In practice, truth-conditional semantics is similar to model-theoretic semantics; conceptually, however, they differ in that truth-conditional semantics seeks to connect language with statements about the real world (in the form of meta-language statements), rather than with abstract models.

Lexical and conceptual semantics

{{#invoke:main|main}} This theory is an effort to explain properties of argument structure. The assumption behind this theory is that syntactic properties of phrases reflect the meanings of the words that head them.<ref name="Levin, Beth 1991">Levin, Beth; Pinker, Steven; Lexical & Conceptual Semantics, Blackwell, Cambridge, MA, 1991</ref> With this theory, linguists can better deal with the fact that subtle differences in word meaning correlate with other differences in the syntactic structure that the word appears in.<ref name="Levin, Beth 1991" /> The way this is gone about is by looking at the internal structure of words.<ref name="Jackendoff, Ray 1990">Jackendoff, Ray; Semantic Structures, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1990</ref> These small parts that make up the internal structure of words are termed semantic primitives.<ref name="Jackendoff, Ray 1990" />

Lexical semantics

{{#invoke:main|main}} A linguistic theory that investigates word meaning. This theory understands that the meaning of a word is fully reflected by its context. Here, the meaning of a word is constituted by its contextual relations.<ref name="Cruse, D. 1986">Cruse, D.; Lexical Semantics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1986</ref> Therefore, a distinction between degrees of participation as well as modes of participation are made.<ref name="Cruse, D. 1986" /> In order to accomplish this distinction any part of a sentence that bears a meaning and combines with the meanings of other constituents is labeled as a semantic constituent. Semantic constituents that cannot be broken down into more elementary constituents are labeled minimal semantic constituents.<ref name="Cruse, D. 1986" />

Computational semantics

{{#invoke:main|main}} Computational semantics is focused on the processing of linguistic meaning. In order to do this concrete algorithms and architectures are described. Within this framework the algorithms and architectures are also analyzed in terms of decidability, time/space complexity, data structures they require and communication protocols.<ref>Nerbonne, J.; The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory (ed. Lappin, S.), Blackwell Publishing, Cambridge, MA, 1996</ref>


Semantics sections
Intro  Linguistics  Montague grammar  Dynamic turn in semantics  Prototype theory  Theories in semantics  Computer science  Psychology  See also  References   External links   

Theories in semantics
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