Jorrig Vogels, Emiel Krahmer, and Alfons Maes
This chapter reviews recent research on speakers’ referential choices in discourse. It focuses on the choice to mention a certain referent first on the one hand, and to produce a pronoun or more elaborate noun phrase on the other. Whereas traditional theories have relied mainly on influence of linguistic context to explain these choices, recent psycholinguistic studies have started investigating the effect of non-linguistic factors as well. Results of these studies suggest that the two referential choices (choice of referent and choice of referring expression) are largely driven by different sets of factors, contrary to the claim that both are related to accessibility of mental representations in memory. The chapter concludes that these findings are best explained by assuming referents can be accessible on different levels: a local and a more global discourse level. Referential choices may be influenced by both levels of accessibility, but with different probabilities for different choices.
David Beaver and Henk Zeevat
This article explores the complex and intricate problem of accommodation, which sits right at the linguistic interface between semantics and pragmatics. Accommodation is an inferential process that is subject to pragmatic constraints. A discussion of the different contexts in which accommodation can take place and the pragmatic principles that select between those contexts is presented. The article also addresses a puzzle on missing accommodation. It then outlines the data and some lines of explanation for Lewisian accommodation. The article finally draws some general conclusions about progress that has been made in understanding accommodation, its significance for the study of presupposition and other phenomena, and considers what remains to be done. The theory of accommodation has become far more nuanced than Lewis's original conception.
The topics of adjective meaning and scalarity offer a prime example of the benefits of experimental research in formal semantics. This chapter presents a series of case studies illustrating how experimental approaches have been productively applied at various stages in the process of developing and evaluating theories of scalar meaning: (i) to support introspectively sourced judgements on which formal theories are based; (ii) to generate theoretically relevant data beyond that which is accessible to introspection and intuition; and (iii) to map out the empirical landscape, as a step towards formulating research questions and hypotheses. The article ends with a discussion of methodological issues, with a view to developing a body of best practices for experimental research in this area.
Rebekah Baglini and Christopher Kennedy
This chapter investigates the relationship between adjectives and event structure by looking at properties of deverbal adjectives and deadjectival verbs. Although simple adjectives are not eventive, they nevertheless play an important role in matters of event structure, both in the way that they influence the eventive properties of verbs that they are derivationally related to, and in the way that an understanding of the scalar properties of adjectival meaning informs theorizing about eventive meanings. Although often considered in isolation, we show that adjectival gradability and verbal aspect are intimately related scalar phenomena. The structural properties of an adjectival scale determine the aspectual class of a derived event predicate. Similarly, the aspectual structure of a verb phrase constrains the scale structure of an adjectival participle. Our discussion focuses primarily on degree-based approaches to these phenomena, but we also consider alternative approaches based in a more articulated ontology for states.
This article describes the different types of temporal adverbial, interactions of adverbials and tense, and tense and adverbials in subordinate clauses. From a morphosyntactic view, there are six different types of temporal adverbial: an adverbial composed of a noun phrase (NP) and an adposition; an NP functioning as an adverbial; sentential; a temporal adverbial clause; and based on adverbs and adjectives, respectively. This morphosyntactic classification is not coextensive with a semantic classification. The article uses a fourfold semantic classification—positional adverbials, quantificational adverbials, adverbials of duration, and Extended-Now adverbials—that more or less follows the traditional ones (except for Extended-Now adverbials, which is a novel category).
This chapter covers examples of naming practices for aircraft types as well as for individual airframes, focusing on heavier-than-air aircraft, in other words machines intended to move through the air by generating aerodynamic or powered lift. The history of approaches to naming British military aircraft types is examined in particular detail, revealing efforts to name aircraft with more than just alphanumeric designations, while also exploring former umbrella nomenclature systems involving many manufacturers. US military aircraft Mission Design Series designation systems are explained briefly, as are systems of reporting names used during World War II and the Cold War. Civil aircraft naming practices are then illustrated with the example of the Boeing Company’s 700-series of airliners, before examining the intricacies of aircraft naming in international development projects. Finally, examples are given of names and nicknames for individual machines.
This chapter presents the semantics and pragmatics of prosodic focus in alternative semantics. Half a dozen examples are given of empirical phenomena that are to be covered by the theory. Then a syntax marking the locus, scope, and antecedent for focus is introduced. The syntax is interpreted semantically and pragmatically by a presupposition involving alternatives. The alternative sets that are used in the definition are computed compositionally using a recursive definition. Alternatives are also employed in the semantics of questions, and this ties in with the phenomenon of question-answer congruence, where the position of focus in an answer matches questioned positions in the question. A different semantic interpretation for focus is entailment semantics, which uses a generalized entailment condition in place of a condition involving alternatives. The semantic and pragmatic interpretation for contrastive topic uses an additional layer of alternatives. Independent of focus, alternatives are deployed in the semantics of disjunction and of negative polarity items.
This article deals with the semantic analysis of the notion of modality, surveying the most important traditional views in linguistics. After pointing out the problems encountered in the literature in trying to define the category, it first discusses the in the literature most common basic types of modality, namely, dynamic modality, deontic modality, and epistemic modality, as well as the less common basic category of boulomaic modality. It then goes on to survey a variety of alternative views on how the semantic domain of modality may be organized. The article also considers the types of criteria that have been proposed to motivate the “cover category” of modality. Finally, it outlines a few features and properties frequently referenced in the literature on modality as characteristic of (some of) the modal categories, including subjectivity vs objectivity or intersubjectivity, performativity vs descriptivity, informational status, and the semantic scope of qualificational dimensions.
This article examines the semantics of “mood”, both in the sense of the opposition among clause types, that is, “sentential/sentence moods,” or “sentential forces”, and in the sense of the distinction between realis and irrealis, or indicative and subjunctive. It begins by considering the most important sentence moods, namely, declaratives, imperatives, interrogatives, exclamatives and optatives. It then discusses the notions of realis and irrealis or indicative and subjunctive. It concludes by underscoring the importance of a study of interpretive effects in elucidating the interaction between semantics and pragmatics, since the semantics of mood appears to depend on a set of contextual clues which arise from different sources and provide non-conceptual input to the pragmatic process of utterance interpretation.
This chapter discusses the names of domestic animals from both a diachronic and a synchronic point of view. The focus is on the names of production animals and of companion animals in several European countries from the eighteenth century until the present day, but some information is also included on African and Arctic name-giving. The development and changes in name pools for different species are related to changes in agriculture and in the views on human–animal relations. The divide between today’s animals in food factories is related to the anthropomorphic treatment of dogs and cats. The differences between male and female animal names are also discussed.
This chapter introduces the linguistic phenomenon of Antecedent-Contained Deletion (ACD): a type of construction in which a site of Verb Phrase Ellipsis (VPE) is contained in the antecedent from which it derives its interpretation. The chapter reviews theoretical approaches to resolving interpretation in ACD structures (drawing primarily on the covert movement operation of Quantifier Raising (QR)), and the accessibility of one or more sentential interpretations when the site of ellipsis is embedded in non-finite and finite clauses. Behavioural responses from offline judgement studies with children and adults, as well as online studies with adults, provide data bearing directly on these theoretical accounts.
Stanley H. Brandes
The anthropological approach to taboo words and language begins with an understanding and acceptance of cultural relativity. Anthropologists are keenly aware that everyday speech that might be perfectly decorous in one society is often laughable or, in extreme cases, scandalous in another. Anthropologists also identify taboo words and language by popular responses to their utterance. According to anthropological definitions, tabooed behavior—be it verbal or otherwise—must be negatively sanctioned. Sometimes sanctions take the form of public rebuke. At other times they are expressed through collective scorn or ostracism. This essay explores these ideas with ethnographic examples chosen from the closely related fields of cultural anthropology and folklore. Supporting material comes from a variety of societies located in sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Latin America, and—within the United States—Native America and African America. The author analyses nicknaming, verbal dueling, and various types of joking relationships, among other speech forms, as anthropologically prominent forms of tabooed language.
This chapter deals with meaning elements of the predicate that are mainly connected with temporal characteristics other than those, like tense, that are directly connected to the speech act. These are sometimes referred to as inner aspect, in contrast to outer aspect, which deals with temporal operators like Progressive, Perfect and Habitual. The chapter focuses in particular on the division of predicates into aspectual classes, such as states, activities, accomplishments, achievements, and semelfactives, and criteria for such classifications. There is also some discussion of the stage level/individual level distinction, and the theory introduced by the philosopher Donald Davidson that all predicates have an event argument. Most of the data are from English but there are examples from Slavonic languages and a number of other languages.
The study of astronomical naming practices sits at the intersection of astronomy and onomastics, and reveals much about scientific and general culture in both the historical background of, and the complex modern conventions for, naming of these phenomena. Stars, points of light against the night sky, were first given names as part of constellations, the grouping of stars into recognizable patterns, themselves given names based on what these patterns resembled. This chapter overviews the naming practices associated in the past and the present with a range of astronomical phenomena, linking them to the cultures and worldviews of both times. It focuses on constellation names, star names, and planet names, and discusses both historical patterns and ongoing trends.
Barry J. Conn
This article illustrates the requirement of plants and their association with people. Since plants are a very important part of the material and cultural heritage of all communities, those who are interested in studying the culture of a people require an understanding of the plants associated with them. To understand plants and their association with the people, it is important to know the identity of the plant species used by them. Knowing the vernacular name of a plant used by a community assists with communication within that community but fails to provide information to a broader group. Furthermore, the information on how this plant is used by other communities remains inaccessible to most researchers. Therefore, it is important to link local plants to their scientific names so that all the information about these plants is available to everyone. However, the identification of plants is often quite difficult and requires careful examination of the features of the plant and comparison with other previously identified species. Therefore, carefully prepared botanical collections are always required to identify plants with certainty. The study provides a brief introduction to the techniques used for collecting botanical specimens that will enable fieldworkers to provide specimens of plants that are adequate for identification and valuable for scientific study.
This chapter presents bynaming systems in the North and West Germanic areas. The terms byname and nickname are classified, with the former being used here as an inclusive term, and the latter being treated as a term for a sub-category. The chapter also discusses other terms used within the category of personal bynames. Some problems associated with the semantic demarcation of the category are outlined, followed by an investigation of the semantics of bynames. The semantic categories principally represented are: home district, birthplace, and residence; family and social function; physical and mental characteristics; and characteristic incidents, habits, and ways of expressing oneself. Bynames are normally secondary formations, i.e. they are mostly formed from existing words, including nouns and adjectives. However, there are also primary byname formations.
Lila R. Gleitman, Andrew C. Connolly, and Sharon Lee Armstrong
This article reviews two kinds of experimental evidence from laboratories that challenge the adequacy of prototypes for representing human concepts. First, experiments suggesting that prototype theory does not distinguish adequately among concepts of maximally variant types, such as formal vs. natural kind and artifact concepts. Second, a more recent experimental line demonstrating how theories of conceptual combination with lexical prototypes fail to predict actual phrasal interpretations, such as language users' doubts as to whether Lithuanian apples are likely to be as edible as apples. An extensive body of empirical research seems to provide evidence for the psychological validity of the prototype position. The default to the compositional stereotype strategy (DS) mentions that barring information, to the contrary, assumes that the typical adjective–noun combination satisfies the noun stereotype.
Zoltán Gendler Szabó
This article presents three more-or-less-traditional considerations for compositionality. The first is that the usual statement of the compositionality principle is massively ambiguous. One of the eight available readings rules out all sources of multiplicity in meaning in complex expressions besides the lexicon and the syntax. Others are more permissive—how much more is not always clear. The second claim is that traditional considerations in favour of compositionality are less powerful than is often assumed. Compositionality is best construed as an empirical hypothesis on meanings expressed in natural languages. Finally, the third claim is that, even if compositionality is true, most of the debates in philosophy, linguistics, and psychology surrounding compositionality will remain open. These debates tend to be about significantly stronger theses.
Helen de Hoop and Joost Zwarts
Case has not received a lot of attention from formal semanticists, probably because the approach has mostly focused on languages with relatively sparse case systems. This article examines how formal tools are being used in the study of the meaning of case. There are many semantic aspects of case that lend themselves to such a treatment, such as argument structure, quantification, aspect, and space. This article looks at the application of formal semantics to case in the domains of argument structure and space. First, it considers work in which the central notions of grammatical function and noun phrase interpretation play an important role in relation to case marking. It then explores Keenan's (1989) semantic case theory, and de Hoop's (1992) and van Geenhoven's (1996) type-shifting approaches to case and voice alternations. Following Krifka (1992) and Kiparsky (1998), the article shows how the mereological approach can account for the semantics of partitive case in Finnish. The article concludes with a discussion on case and spatial structure.
This article presents an overview of the basic issues concerning the relationship between case, grammatical relations, and semantic roles such as agent and patient. In most approaches, semantic roles are directly linked to abstract grammatical relations for the core arguments of the clause. Cases are considered to be a surface expression of grammatical relations. All approaches that are concerned with the relationship between semantic roles and grammatical relations are able to capture the argument realisation of transitive verbs selecting highly potent agents and strongly affected patients such as ‘break’, ‘open’, or ‘hit’ in accusative languages. Approaches using role lists instead of semantic decompositions lack the means to cope with the large number of individual roles that are selected by the full range of verbs and with the reverse case pattern in ergative constructions. Accordingly, this article deals primarily with the relationship (or linking) between grammatical relations and semantic roles in different types of approaches. It also discusses role lists and role hierarchies, along with proto-roles and lexical semantic structures.