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.
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 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.
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.
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.
This chapter discusses the ways in which the affect or emotion experienced by name-givers in response to stereotypes, to aesthetics, and to past, present, and potential future events in their lives is encoded into the phonaesthetics of the names they select and assign. A phonaesthetic system based on statistical evidence and on studies of facial expression is applied to name choices. In this system, sounds such as [l], [m], and [iː] have positive and gentle emotional associations while sounds such as [k], [g], and [uː] have negative and tough ones. Facial expressions accompanying the enunciation of these sounds are either smiling (former group) or relatively tough (latter group). Differences are noted between boys’ and girls’ names, currently and previously popular names, names and nicknames, Black and White names, names popular in different geographical locations, pets’ names, and fictional and invented names.
How one sees the relationship between cognitive linguistics and philosophy depends on what one takes to be the role and nature of philosophy. The approach followed in this article is the one presented by J. L. Austin: viewing philosophy as constituting the overarching arena for discussions about the nature of the world and our knowledge about it, within which independent disciplines have gradually crystallized into domains of their own. This article addresses some of the basic concerns of philosophy, including the relationship between ontology and epistemology. Thinking about the mind is historically bound up with dilemmas that span all these levels, with a rough polarity between, on the one hand, idealism and rationalism, which share a commitment to mental foundations of understanding, and on the other hand, empiricism, which takes actual experience, entering the mind via the senses, as the foundation of knowledge. This article also discusses linguistics and the philosophy of science in the twentieth century.
The aim of this chapter is to present the internationally increasing research on commercial nomenclature and also the variable terminology used in different research traditions. Commercial names usually refer to businesses and products, but some other name categories have also begun to receive commercial tones. The commercialization of the western way of life and its impact on nomenclature is an important issue. The chapter casts light on the history of commercial naming and introduces different approaches to the linguistic analysis of commercial names. In addition to the structural analysis, special attention is paid to semantics and functions of names. One particular issue is the question of linguistic origin. English as the global language of business pervades commercial names throughout the world. It is emphasized that commercial names on all linguistic levels are in close connection with their economic context and the socio-cultural and legal features of the country in question.
This article focuses on the relevance of computational complexity for cognition. The syntactic items may be expressions that are surface strings. But in general, strings are syntactically ambiguous in that they can be generated in more than one way from atomic expressions and operations. The semantic function must take disambiguated items as arguments. When expressions are ambiguous, expressions cannot be the arguments. Instead, it is common to take the arguments to be terms, whose surface syntax reflects the derivation of the string. The semantic function differs in one other important respect from an arithmetic function, since it maps entities between domains, from a syntactic to an ontic or conceptual domain of meanings. Compositionality helps to explain the rate of success in linguistic communication when the sentence used or the content communicated is new.
The compositionality idea is the idea that semantic interpretation proceeds in two steps. Simple expressions are interpreted by means of lexical rules, which assign meanings to them directly. Complex expressions are interpreted by means of compositional rules, which assign meanings to them indirectly, as a function of the meanings of their parts. The syntax of natural language is such that the number of complex expressions is not finite. The meaning of a complex expression only depends upon two things: the meanings of its immediate constituents, and the way they are put together. A language exhibits semantic flexibility if a condition is satisfied: in that language, the meaning of a word may vary from occurrence to occurrence, and it may vary, in particular, as a function of the other words it combines with.
Hodges' Extension Theorem is perfectly designed for the kind of extension problem of principle of compositionality, which arises in the so-called IF languages. These languages satisfy the conditions of the application of the Extension Theorem. They are extensions of standard first-order languages closed under atomic and negations of atomic formulas and disjunctions and conjunctions of IF-formulas. Hodges' extension theorem shows that when certain conditions are satisfied, a language has a unique (total) compositional interpretation, which agrees with the initially given partial one. Accordingly, any two such compositional interpretations must be formally equivalent. Kaplan separates the indices, which contribute to the semantic value of a sentence into those that make the context of utterance, and those that constitute the circumstances of evaluation. The former determine what is said and the latter determine whether what is said is true or false.
Judith Degen and Michael K. Tanenhaus
Processing language requires integrating information from multiple sources, including context, world knowledge, and the linguistic signal itself. How is this information integrated? A range of positions on the issue is possible, spanned by two extreme positions: extreme informational privilege—certain types of information are processed earlier in online processing and weighted most heavily in the resulting utterance interpretation; and extreme parallelism—all information is processed in parallel and weighted equally in the resulting interpretation. In reviewing the current empirical landscape on scalar implicature processing, the chapter argues for a constraint-based approach to pragmatic processing, which is closer in spirit to the parallelism account than the informational privilege account. The approach is also extended to other pragmatic phenomena.
This article takes the old definition of conventional implicatures (CIs) and argues that this singles out a distinct and pervasive phenomenon in natural language. It also addresses the multi-dimensional semantics for CIs. Then, the article seeks to build a case that (1) is not merely a new, perhaps partial, encoding of a more accepted kind of meaning, and to establish that it picks out some natural language facts. It shows that nominal appositives (NAs) provide solid evidence for the linguistic reality of the CI branch. Additionally, a description logic for natural-language expressions with CI dimensions is offered. The article explores the internal structures of NAs in order to see how to capture the conditions on the constructions using the multidimensional logic. By separating the at-issue and CI dimensions, the needed independence of the two classes of meaning is obtained without further stipulation.
Karina van Dalen-Oskam
This chapter describes the development in literary onomastics from the analysis of isolated (personal) names towards the analysis of all names in the so-called ‘onymic landscape’, not only personal names, but also place-names and other names. This approach to names in literature makes intensive use of the possibilities of information technology (the computer) and/or uses a quantitative approach to the analysis of large amounts of data. This way of looking at the onymic landscape is not yet mainstream. The step from the analysis of relatively small text corpora to very large corpora is still rare. The chapter describes the history and background of this turn towards more data, and sketches the ways in which scholars have dealt with the advantages and disadvantages of a computational approach. It concludes by highlighting the nature of the challenges expected in the near future.
This chapter explores counterfactual language understanding (e.g. If money grew on trees…), which requires false information to be accepted as temporarily true (and vice versa). First, counterfactual constructions are defined, then counterfactual reasoning strategies are reviewed, and understanding is linked to existing theories of language comprehension. The key focus of this chapter is to evaluate recent empirical work that has sought to understand how counterfactuals are represented and accessed on-line during language comprehension. Thus, temporally sensitive cognitive neuroscientific methodologies are discussed alongside a variety of language comprehension tasks. Overall, it is concluded that healthy adult readers can make appropriate inferences following a counterfactual context, showing rapid (possibly simultaneous) access to both the counterfactual and factual interpretations of events, which parallels the processes involved in mental state attributions.
This chapter introduces the related topics of distributivity, collectivity, and cumulativity. Evidence is reviewed for the availability of multiple readings of ambiguous sentences that support distributive and collective interpretations, and the constrained interpretation of sentences arising from the lexical semantics of a universal quantifier, a predicate (adjective), an adverbial modifier, a determiner, or quantification scope. Off-line tasks with child and adult participants reveal a developmental comparison in the availability of these readings and the predication of individuals and groups of individuals, while on-line processing tasks with adults provide fine-grained behavioural evidence for the role of lexical and structural factors in facilitating or suppressing such readings.
This chapter begins by looking at the anomalous nature of ethnonyms, partly because of lack of consensus amongst onomasticians as to whether ethnonyms can be considered to be proper names, and partly because of lack of consensus on the types of entities described by ethnonyms. The relationship between ethnonyms and a number of factors often linked to ethnicity are discussed: race, nationality, geographical area, language, and religion. The chapter then goes on to look at the concept of a ‘clan’ and argues that Scottish and Zulu clan names, usually assumed to be family names or surnames, are in fact ethnonyms. Variations of ethnonyms are then investigated, including morphological variations, and exonymic and endonymic forms. Ethnic nicknames are then discussed, including ethnic insults. The chapter concludes by looking at ‘non-ethnonyms’—ethnonyms which define in terms of ‘the other’.
Sherry Yong Chen and E. Matthew Husband
Grammatical theories of event structure have broadly proposed that event representations are decomposed and articulated in a variety of different constituents across a sentence. These theories raise questions for sentence comprehension: how are cues to these disparate components recognized and put back together to construct a complete and coherent representation of the event under discussion? Such questions are made all the more complex during real-time processing as these components arrive one after another in quick succession, and yet studies show that speakers are highly sensitive to these cues and use them to guide interpretation in a rapid and highly incremental fashion. The chapter examines studies from the psycholinguistic literature with a focus on three aspects of event structure: manner and result verbal meanings, temporal boundaries of events, and the encoding of event participants.