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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Tuesday, 11 October 2005


Diagonalization and Self-Reference

By Richard Heck

It is often said that diagonalization allows one to construct sentences that are self-referential. This paper investigates the sense in which that is true. I argue first that, in the standard language of arithmetic, in which we have only the symbols 0, S, +, and ?, truly self-referential sentences cannot be constructed. This is shown by considering sentences like The right-hand side of this biconditional is false iff its left-hand side is true. This sentence is intuitively inconsistent, but the sentence constructed by using diagonalization in the usual way is true and, in fact, provable in Q. This problem can be resolved by expanding the language to include function-symbols for all primitive recursive functions. It can also be resolved by proving a stronger form of the diagonal lemma that I call the structural diagonal lemma. At the end of the paper, it is suggested, however, that there are some contexts in which even these methods are insufficient.

Source: PH Online, Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 18:41 BST
Saturday, 8 October 2005

Topic: Interconnections

Semantic Conceptions of Information

A new article of the The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy has just been published:
Semantic Conceptions of Information
By Luciano Floridi

Posted by Tony Marmo at 19:34 BST
Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005 19:37 BST
Sunday, 2 October 2005


Integrated pragmatic values

By Christopher Potts

I adapt recent results by Merin, Blutner, Jaeger, Krifka, van Rooy, and others to obtain integrated pragmatic values for utterances, thereby moving towards a precise definition of pragmatic felicity. I model speakers' perspectives with probability distributions over the set of possible worlds. The *quality-rating* of an utterance is an exponent of the speaker's probability value for its propositional content. An utterance's *quantity-rating* is the informativity of its content relative to the addressee's probabilities. I ensure that quality-ratings act as a check on quantity-ratings by taking the product of the two. I employ the notion of *relevance to a question* to further articulate these pragmatic values and arrive at a notion of *maximally felicitous utterance* (in context).

Keywords: pragmatics, probability, decision-theory, discourse particles, quality, quantity, relevance, litotes, pragmatic halos

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 10:17 BST
Friday, 30 September 2005


Types of degrees and types of event structures

By Patrick Caudal & David Nicolas

In this paper, we investigate how certain types of predicates should be connected with certain types of degree scales, and how this can affect the events they describe.
The distribution and interpretation of various degree adverbials will serve us as a guideline in this perspective. They suggest that two main types of degree scales should be distinguished:
(i) quantity scales, which are characterized by the semantic equivalence of Yannig ate the cake partially and Yannig ate part of the cake; quantity scales only appear with verbs possessing an incremental theme (cf. Dowty 1991);

(ii) intensity scales, which are characterized by degree modifiers (e.g., "extremely", "perfectly") receiving an intensive interpretation; intensity scales typically occur with verbs morphologically related to an adjective (to dry).

More generally, we capitalize on a typology of degree structures to explain how degrees play a central role with respect to event structure.

In C. Maienborn and A. W?llstein, Ed. Proceedings Event arguments: foundations and applications.

Source: Jean Nicod

Posted by Tony Marmo at 17:17 BST
Tuesday, 27 September 2005


Telic senses of deadjectival verbs

By Kate Kearns

In this paper I address two main issues in the semantics of deadjectival verbs.
First, I review alternative accounts of the nature of the telos associated with a deadjectival verb on a telic interpretation. Traditional accounts gloss the telic sense of a deadjectival verb as 'become A': for example, the telic interpretation of The sky cleared is 'The sky became clear'. On this account, the telos of the event denoted by telic clear is the onset of the state denoted by The sky is clear. An alternative account by Hay, Kennedy, and Levin (1999) is based on the property scale associated with an adjective and its derived verb. Property scales may be open, with no maximal degree of the property (i.e. no upper bound), or closed, in which case the property has a maximal possible degree beyond which no higher degrees of the property exist, and the maximal degree of the property constitutes the upper bound of the scale. Hay, Kennedy, and Levin argue that a telic interpretation arises where a deadjectival verb is interpreted with reference to a closed property scale. In the event denoted by a telic deadjectival verb, the theme of change traverses the property scale to the upper bound, the maximal possible degree of the property. For example, in The sky cleared on a telic interpretation, the sky is understood to traverse the scale of increasing degrees of clearness until the maximum possible degree of clearness is reached. On this account, the telos is the onset of the state in which the sky is maximally clear, such that it could not be clearer. I argue in favour of the traditional view that a telic deadjectival verb denotes 'become A', and against the alternative account that a telic deadjectival verb denotes 'become maximally A'.
By way of clarification preparatory to the main discussion, I show that deadjectival verbs have two types of telic sense, an achievement sense and an accomplishment sense. The telic sense at issue in the traditional telic/atelic contrast is the accomplishment sense.
I also argue that the availability of telic and atelic senses of deadjectival verbs is generally predictable from characteristics of the state denoted by x is A. The telic (accomplishment) sense of a deadjectival verb is available only if the property region that counts as 'A' has a lower bound (i.e. the least degree that counts as 'A') which is accessible to modification. The telic (accomplishment) sense is the strong default reading where x is A entails that x bears the maximal possible degree of the relevant property.

Keywords: deadjectival verbs; telicity; property scales; achievements; accomplishments; resultatives.

Source: Semantics Archive
To appear in Lingua

Posted by Tony Marmo at 08:30 BST
Updated: Tuesday, 27 September 2005 08:40 BST
Saturday, 24 September 2005


Context Dependent Quantifiers and Donkey Anaphora

By Jeffrey King

I have tried to give you an overview of the wide range of “non-donkey” data covered by the CDQ theory. I have also tried to gesture at certain methodological advantages the theory has over certain competitors. Finally, I have explained how the theory can handle donkey anaphora, by appealing to independently motivated accounts of the semantics of conditionals and adverbs of quantification. As a result of this, I hope to have convinced you that the CDQ account of anaphora and instantial terms is a promising one.

Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 14:06 BST
Sunday, 18 September 2005

Topic: Interconnections

Semantically Relatable Sets: Building Blocks for Representing Semantics

By Rajat Kumar Mohanty, Anupama Dutta and Pushpak Bhattacharyya

Motivated by the fact that ultimately, automatic language analysis is constituent detection and attachment resolution, we present our work on the problem of generating and linking semantically relatable sets (SRS) as a via media to automatic sentence analysis leading to semantics extraction. These sets are of the form <entity1, entity2> or <entity1 function-word entity2> or <function-word entity>, where the entities can be single words or more complex sentence parts (such as an embedded clause). The challenge lies in finding the components of these sets, which involves solving prepositional phrase (PP) and clause attachment problems, and empty pronominal (PRO) determination. Use is made of
(i) the parse tree of the sentence,
(ii) the subcategorization frames of lexical items,
(iii) the lexical properties of the words and
(iv) the lexical resources like the WordNet and the Oxford Advanced Learners’ Dictionary (OALD).

The components within the sets and the sets themselves are linked using the semantic relations of an interlingua for machine translation called the Universal Networking Language (UNL). The work forms part of a UNL based MT system, where the source language is analysed into semantic graphs and target language is generated from these graphs. The system has been tested on the Penn Treebank, and the results indicate the effectiveness of our approach.

Keywords: Semantically Relatable Sets, Syntactic and Semantic Constituents, Interlingua Based MT, Parse Trees, Lexical Properties, Argument Structure, Penn Treebank.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:27 BST
Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005 08:49 BST

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Language, Logic and Ontology

Uncovering the Structure of Commonsense Knowledge

By Walid S. Saba

The purpose of this paper is twofold:
(i) we argue that the structure of commonsense knowledge must be discovered, rather than invented;
and (ii) we argue that natural language, which is the best known theory of our (shared) commonsense knowledge, should itself be used as a guide to discovering the structure of commonsense knowledge.

In addition to suggesting a systematic method to the discovery of the structure of commonsense knowledge, the method we propose seems to also provide an explanation for a number of phenomena in natural language, such as metaphor, intensionality, and the semantics of nominal compounds. Admittedly, our ultimate goal is quite ambitious, and it is no less than the systematic ‘discovery’ of a well-typed ontology of commonsense knowledge, and the subsequent formulation of the long-awaited goal of a meaning algebra.

Source: Semantics Archive

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Sunday, 18 September 2005 08:43 BST
Wednesday, 14 September 2005

Today's Contents

Beliefs Review
Disquotationalism and Expressiveness
Language, Logic and Ontology— Uncovering the Structure of Commonsense
The Semantics of Ellipsis

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:38 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005 00:40 BST


The Semantics of Ellipsis

By Paul Elbourne

There are four phenomena that are particularly troublesome for theories of ellipsis: the existence of sloppy readings when the relevant pronouns cannot possibly be bound; an ellipsis being resolved in such a way that an ellipsis site in the antecedent is not understood in the way it was there; an ellipsis site drawing material from two or more separate antecedents; and ellipsis with no linguistic antecedent. These cases are accounted for by means of a new theory that involves copying syntactically incomplete antecedent material and an analysis of silent VPs and NPs that makes them into higher order definite descriptions that can be bound into.

Keywords: VP-ellipsis, NP-deletion, definite descriptions
Source: Semantics Archive

Topic: defl@tionism

Disquotationalism and Expressiveness

By Gary Kemp

With a truth-predicate ‘True’ we can write:
(1) ∀x[φ(x) → True(x)]

We expect this to be equivalent in some suitable sense to the infinite set of instances of φSi→Si. We expect the truth-predicate to enable us to express infinite conjunctions (or infinite disjunctions, in the case of existential generalisations), where no conjunct (disjunct) expresses anything not expressible without a truth-predicate. According to standard deflationism, since the expression of such generalisations is the only theoretically essential role discharged by a truth-predicate, adding a truth-predicate to a language does not extend the domain of facts treated of by the language.(...)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005 00:23 BST



By Andrea Bonomi

If we start from the actualist interpretation and consider the necessitation of the corresponding diagonal proposition, we get the modal interpretation of the future. Symmetrically, if we start from this interpretation and keep the reference to the presumed actual world constant, we get the actualist reading (see (MA) in a previous section). In general, actualism and modalism (based on the settledness condition) can be seen as two distinct, but related, attitudes that speakers can have when dealing with the future. As we have just remarked, the notion of an "actual" future is necessarily underspecified with respect to the contextual information. To overcome this difficulty, we can assume a "wait and see" attitude and focus on the course of events that in the end happens to be actualized, as stated in (O). Alternatively, we can stick to past and present facts in order to verify whether, in the light of these facts, the truth (falsehood) of the statement at issue is already settled, i. e. independent on which possible future will be actualized.

(Bonomi, Siena Lectures, May 2005. Comments welcome)
Source: Online Papers in Philosophy

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005 00:25 BST


Beliefs Review

[In Spanish]

By Eduardo Fermé

In the present essay we present the AGM belief review theory: its origins, axioms, semantics and different methods of constructing change-functions. We show the relation between the AGM model and conditional logic.

Resumen en Castellano:
En el presente ensayo presentamos la teoria de cambio de creencias AGM: sus orígenes, su axiomática, su semántica y diferentes métodos para construir funciones de cambio. Mostramos la relación entre el modelo AGM y la lógica condicional.

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Wednesday, 14 September 2005 00:28 BST
Friday, 9 September 2005

Now Playing: REPOSTED
Topic: Polemics

The Fitch, Hauser and Chomsky versus Jackendoff and Pinker Polemic

The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve?

By Marc D. Hauser, Noam Chomsky & W. Tecumseh Fitch

We argue that an understanding of the faculty of language requires substantial interdisciplinary cooperation. We suggest how current developments in linguistics can be profitably wedded to work in evolutionary biology, anthropology, psychology, and neuroscience. We submit that a distinction should be made between the faculty of language in the broad sense (FLB)and in the narrow sense (FLN). FLB includes a sensory-motor system, a conceptual-intentional system, and the computational mechanisms for recursion, providing the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of elements. We hypothesize that FLN only includes recursion and is the only uniquely human component of the faculty of language. We further argue that FLN may have evolved for reasons other than language, hence comparative studies might look for evidence of such computations outside of the domain of communication (for example, number, navigation, and social relations).

Appeared in SCIENCE VOL 298, 22 NOVEMBER 2002

See also
The Faculty of Language: What's Special about it?

Formal grammar and information theory: together again?
The Nature of the Language Faculty and its Implications for Evolution of Language
The Fodor-Pinker Debate
Non-genomic nativism

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 BST
Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005 07:32 BST
Sunday, 4 September 2005

Topic: Polemics

Adaptationism for Human Cognition: Strong, Spurious or Weak?

By Scott Atran

Strong adaptationists explore complex organic design as task-specific adaptations to ancestral environments. This strategy seems best when there is evidence of homology. Weak adaptationists don’t assume that complex organic (including cognitive and linguistic) functioning necessarily or primarily represents task-specific adaptation. This approach to cognition resembles physicists’ attempts to deductively explain the most facts with fewest hypotheses. For certain domain-specific competencies (folkbiology) strong adaptationism is useful but not necessary to research. With group-level belief systems (religion) strong adaptationism degenerates into spurious notions of social function and cultural selection. In other cases (language, especially universal grammar) weak adaptationism’s ‘minimalist’ approach seems productive.

Appeared in Mind and Language, February 2005 - Vol. 20 Issue 1 Page 1-139

Related to the Fitch, Hauser and Chomsky versus Jackendoff and Pinker Polemic

Posted by Tony Marmo at 07:45 BST
Updated: Sunday, 4 September 2005 07:47 BST

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