Semantics - John's study cards

  1. Define semantics and pragmatics, and state which various issues fall on which side of the sem/prag divide.
    • Semantics: study of inherent, "linguistic" meaning of words and sentences (affects truth value)
    • words: dictionary definitions, semantic components, lexical relations
    • connectives: Logical Operators = AND, OR, MATERIAL IMPLICATION, NOT; because; if
    • relations between propositions: entailment, paraphrase, contradiction
    • quantifiers: universal, existential, definite descriptions, strong determiners (all every, the, most, few), weak determiners (no, some, many several)
    • Pragmatics: study of those aspects of meaning that depend on or derive from the context in which the words and sentences are used (
    • implicatures, speech acts
    • illocutionary modifiers: metalinguistic negation, biscuit conditional
  2. List and describe the six types of figurative language discussed in SemPrag.
    • Metaphor - implied comparison
    • Hyperbole - exaggeration
    • Euphemism - substitution of unoffensive term
    • Metonymy - substitution of closely associated word
    • Synechdoche - substitution of part / whole
    • Litotes - understatement, negating the opposite
  3. List and describe the five types of propositional relations discussed in SemPrag.
    • Entailment - if p then q
    • Equivalent - if p then q and if q then p
    • Inconsistent: Contrary - may not be simultaneously true, but may be simultaneously false (Cruse 2000)
    • Inconsistent: Contradictory - must have opposite truth values (Cruse 2000)
    • Independent propositions - no truth-value dependency
  4. List eight presupposition triggers that were mentioned in SemPrag.
    • Definite descriptions (e.g. The King of France)
    • Factive predicates (regret, aware, realize, know, be sorry that)
    • Implicative predicates (manage to >> try; forget to >> intend to)
    • Aspectual predicates (stop, continue, resume, finish, begin)
    • Temporal clauses
    • Counterfactuals
    • Wh- words
    • Cleft constructions
  5. How can a presupposition be defined in semantic terms, and who defines it that way?
    If sentence A presupposes sentence B, then sentence B must be true in order for sentence A to be either true or false. Frege 1882; Strawson 1950, 1952.
  6. How can a presupposition be defined in pragmatic terms, and who defines it that way?
    Presuppositions are propositions which S presents as being non-controversial. They may already be known by H, or H may accomodate them. Austin 1962; Stalnaker 1973, 1974; Karttunen 1974.
  7. What is one way presupposition can be distinguished from entailment?
    • Presuppositions are preserved in non-asserted contexts (negation, questions, etc.)
    • The FBI district chief arrested three suspects.
    • (>>There is an FBI district chief)
    • (entails: the FBI district chief arrested two suspects)

    • The FBI district chief did not arrest three suspects.
    • Did the FBI district chief arrest three suspects?
    • (entailment fails, presupposition survives)
  8. What are the de dicto and de re interpretations of the following sentence? And, name one author who proposes that a be analyzed as an existential quantifier.
    John wants to marry a Catholic.
    • de dicto: John has not yet found a girl to marry, but whenever he does, he wants her to be a Catholic
    • de re: John has found the girl that he hopes to marry, and she happens to be a Catholic

    Kearns 2000
  9. Explain denotation and connotation, and tell who originally suggested these terms as such.
    • denotation - the set of all things in the world that can properly be referred to as "an x."
    • connotation - the set of properties that things must have in order to be referred to as "an x" -- necessary and sufficient conditions
    • Mill 1843
  10. Who wrote Uber Sinn und Bedeutung? What major issues did he grapple with?
    Frege 1892.

    • Why are identity statements worth saying? Such statements are co-referential but not semantically equivalent. So meaning must involve more than just reference.
    • The morning star is a body illuminated by the sun.
    • The evening star is a body illuminated by the sun.
    • The reference of a clause is normally its truth value, and the sense of a clause is normally its proposition. However, the reference of a clause after a propositional attitude verb is its proposition.

    • Principle of Compositionality
    • Law of Substitutivity
    • The latter does not hold in the complement clauses of propositional attitude verbs
  11. Who wrote On denoting? What major issues did he grapple with?
    Russell 1905.

    Russell rejected the distinction between Sense vs. Reference; for him, meaning was entirely a matter of "denotation" (using this word in a way different from most other scholars).

    • Definite NPs should be analyzed as quantifier phrases
    • The present King of France is bald.
    • - there exists an individual x who currently rules France
    • - for any individual y who currently rules France, y must be the same as x
    • - individual x is bald
  12. Who articulated the translation principle that "the cluster of senses symbolized by a single word is always specfic to the language under study"? And what implication does this principle have for translation?
    Beekman & Callow, 1974. This means that two distinct senses of one word in language A are likely to be translated by two different words in language B.
  13. Who argues that preserving reference is a nonnegotiable aspect of preserving meaning in translation?
    Thomson 1988, 1989.
  14. Who discussed how speakers can create an infinite number of sentences from a small number of grammar rules and a finite set of words? And what implication does this have for semantics?
    Chomsky 1965. The implication for semantics is that sentence meaning unlike word meanings cannot be stored in the speaker's lexicon.
  15. Who argued that selectional restrictions were a semantic issue instead of a syntactic one?
    • McCawley (1968) and Lakoff, contra Chomsky (1965). If they were syntactic, they should hold in contexts like the following:
    • He's become irrational--he thinks his exam results are sleeping.
    • You can't say that John drank his sandwich.
  16. Name and describe four tests for distinguishing ambiguity vs. vagueness. Who proposed each of these tests?
    • identity test - coordination and zeugma (Zwicky & Sadock 1975)
    • sense relations test - same set of synonyms / antonyms? (classic test)
    • independent truth conditions - does change affect truth value of proposition? (Cruse 1986)
    • definitional distinctness - can one definition be written? (Cruse 2000)
  17. List and describe the seven (or eight) types of lexical relations discussed in SemPrag.
    • Synonymy - one can be substituted for the other without change of meaning
    • Antonymy: Complementary pairs - no middle ground
    • Antonymy: Gradable antonyms - middle ground
    • Antonymy: Converse pairs - asymmetric relation between two entities (parent-child, above-below, employer-employee)
    • Antonymy: Reverse pairs - motion or change in opposite directions; special use of again (Cruse 1986)
    • Hyponymy (& Taxonomy) - generic-specific (taxonomy keyword: x is a kind of y [Cruse 1986])
    • Meronymy - part-whole - the word naming the part is called the meronym
  18. By what criteria can homonymy and polysemy be distinguished?
    • In polysemy...
    • ...senses generally share at least one salient feature or component of meaning
    • sense may be a figurative extension of the other
    • sense is generally primary (Beekman & Callow 1974)
  19. Who proposed the concept of facets? Who made a very similar observation, and what label did he give the phenomenon?
    Cruse 2000.

    Nunberg 1979, "dense metonymy."
  20. Present evidence for the discreteness of facets (Cruse 2000).
    • a) distinct collocational/selectional restrictions, and independent truth conditions (e.g. newly painted bank versus federally insured bank)
    • b) different sets of sense relations (e.g. this architect designs banks but not hospitals versus the FCIC insures banks but not mortgage companies)
    • c) distinct ‘essences’ or ‘conceptual cores’ [e.g. book (physical object vs. information content)]
    • d) independent metaphorical extensions or proper names (e.g. Donald Duck vs. Peking Duck)
  21. Present evidence for the essential unity of facets (Cruse 2000).
    • a) 2 or more facets typically co-occur (e.g. bank: building and institution typically co-occur)
    • b) joint compositional properties (e.g. I’m going to deposit this money in the bank = in the building and to the institution)
    • c) lack of antagonism/serial composition w/o zeugma [facets aren’t necessarily antagonistic, i.e. can co-occur w/o zeugma (i.e. punning): This is a very interesting book, but it’s awfully heavy to carry around OR My religion forbids me to eat or wear rabbit
    • d) joint lexical relations: facets share sets of antonyms/synonyms, but senses usually don’t (e.g. caught a fish/threw back versus caught a cold/threw back) (?)
    • e) joint extensions
    • f) global reference: same picture to represent 2 different facets, but different pictures to represent 2 different senses (?)
    • g) joint nameability
  22. Quote Grice's Cooperative Principle.
    Make your conversational contribution such as is required, at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or direction of the talk exchange in which you are engaged.
  23. Quote Grice's conversational maxims, and name the year in which they were published.
    • QUALITY: Try to make your contribution one that is true.
    • 1. Do not say what you believe to be false.
    • 2. Do not say that for which you lack inadequate evidence.
    • 1. Make your contribution as informative as required (for the current purposes of the exchange).
    • 2. Do not make your contribution more informative than is required.
    • RELATION: Be relevant.
    • MANNER: Be perspicuous.
    • 1. Avoid obscurity of expression.
    • 2. Avoid ambiguity.
    • 3. Be brief (avoid unnecessary prolixity).
    • 4. Be orderly.
  24. List and describe all the types of implicature proposed by Grice.
    • Conversational implicatures
    • - particularized (crucially depends on context)
    • - generalized (does not depend on context; typically associated with proposition expressed; e.g., and, scalar/quantity implicatures, clefts)
    • Conventional implicature (part of the conventional meaning of a word or construction, not calculable, not cancellable, falsity does not affect truth conditions; e.g., therefore, but, still, even)
  25. Name five features borne by conversational implicatures.
    • Conversational implicatures are...
    • ...cancellable (S can deny the implicature)
    • ...suspendable (S can doubt the implicature)
    • ...nondetachable (connected to meaning, not form, of utterance)
    • ...calculable (H can logically infer the implicature)
    • ...reinforcible (S can explicitly state the implicature w/o redundancy)
  26. Contrast entailments, conversational implicatures, and presuppositions using the following features: cancellability, suspendability, reinforcibility, preservation under negation and questioning, calculability.
    • Entailment: not cancellable, not suspendable, not reinforcible, not preserved under negation and questioning, not calculable.
    • Conversational implicature: cancellable, suspendable, reinforcible, not preserved under negation and questioning, calculable.
    • Presupposition: not cancellable (unless the clause containing the trigger is negated), suspendable, not reinforcible, preserved under negation and questioning, not calculable.
  27. Who analyzed conventional implicatures as equivalent to presuppositions?
    Karttunen and Peters 1979.
  28. Describe three attempts to condense Grice's maxims. State who proposed each of these attempts.
    • Levinson 1983
    • Q-principle (same as Grice's "quality")
    • I-principle (say as little as necessary)
    • M-principle (do not use a prolix, obscure, or marked expression without reason)

    • Horn 1985
    • R-principle (S say as little as possible; H infer as much as possible)
    • Q-principle (S say as much as possible as clearly as possible [i.e. make the strongest statement you're in a position to make]

    • Sperber and Wilson 1995
    • Cognitive principle: Human cognition tends to be geared to the optimization of relevance.
    • Communicative principle: Every act of ostensive communication communicates a presumption of optimal relevance.
  29. Who proposed three cross-linguistic types of speech acts, and what were these speech acts?
    Sadock & Zwicky 1985

    statement, question, command
  30. Describe the argument for the existence of performatives. Who proposed this? What utterances, if any, can be described as a performative?
    Austin 1961.

    Many utterances do not have truth values in any obvious sense, yet are clearly meaningful.

    • Even some utterances that look like statements cannot easily be classified as either "true" or "false"; e.g., I name this ship the Queen Elizabeth. Such utterances are performatives, not intended to describe an event or state of affairs, but to do something.
    • Any utterance can be paraphrased using an explicit performative (I hereby inform you that... or I hereby ask you whether...)
  31. Describe Austin's felicity conditions. When did he propose these?
    Austin 1962.

    1) procedural:*
    there must be a conventional procedure having a conventional effect, and the circumstances and person must be appropriate, as specified by the procedure

    2) execution:* the procedure must be executed correctly and completely

    3) intentional (sincerity):** S and H must have requisite thoughts, feelings, and intentions, as specified by the procedure, and if consequent conduct (‘uptake’) is specified, then H must respond accordingly (e.g. betting, proposing, making proposals, etc.)

    Success of speech act doesn’t depend on truth value (therefore, not semantic), but on felicity conditions being met

    • *if violated, misfire
    • **if violated, abuse
  32. Describe Searle's felicity conditions for requests. When did he propose these? Why are they important?
    Searle 1975.

    1) propositional content: the underlying proposition, the ‘extracted’ situation or state of affairs. S predicates a future act A of H.

    2) preparatory conditions: background circumstances and knowledge about S and H, and the situation that must hold prior to (and may even then be altered by) the performance of the act. H is able to perform A.

    3) sincerity condition: the appropriate psychological state of the actor (representatives: belief; commissives: intention; directives: desire). S wants H to do A.

    4) essential condition: the condition that defines what the act ‘counts as’. Counts as an attempt by S to get H to do A.

    Searle states that a given utterance can function successfully as an ISA only if it relates to the felicity conditions for the primary (intended) speech act in certain specific ways.
  33. What features are typically borne by an explicit performative, according to Austin?
    Austin 1961.

    1) performative verb:
    simultaneously names and performs the intended action

    2) simple present tense, indicative mood

    3) first person, active voice

    4) can be modified by the performative adverb hereby
  34. What are indirect speech acts (ISAs)? Present evidence for multiple layers of speech acts.
    ISAs are utterances in which one illocutionary act (the primary act) is intentionally performed by way of the performance of another act (the literal act).

    • Evidence that the secondary act is present:
    • Q: Can you tell me the time?
    • A: Yes, it's 5:00.
  35. Should ISAs be considered implicatures or idioms? Describe the pros and cons involved in each option.
    • Implicatures
    • pro - captures the non-conventionality of speech acts such as the underlined: "Let's go to the movies." "I have to study for an exam."
    • con - fails to capture the conventionality of speech acts such as Can you pass the salt?

    • Idioms
    • pro - ISAs are often conventionalized, e.g. Can you tell me the time vs. *Are you able to tell me the time
    • con - Yes, it’s 5 o’clock responds to both literal and illocutionary act, which would seem to validate the compositionality of the ISA
  36. What do illocutionary modifiers do? Give two examples of authors who identified them.
    They provide information about the illocutionary act itself (e.g. please; hereby; adverbs such as frankly, confidentially, etc.)

    • Adverbs were identified as such in Davison 1975.
    • Negation was identified as such in Horn 1985 (metalinguistic negation). It's not a car, it's a Volkswagon.
  37. For Austin, an utterance consists of what three types of acts? What is illocutionary force?
    LOCUTIONARY (act of speaking: producing appropriate phonetic segments, words,sentences, etc.)

    ILLOCUTIONARY (act done in speaking: “doing something with words”, e.g. asking,ordering, sentencing, promising, etc.)

    PERLOCUTIONARY (act done by speaking: achieve a specific result in the hearer, e.g.persuade, frighten, encourage, shock, surprise, upset, please, bore, etc. Not necessarilyintentional; speaker may be totally unaware)

    ILLOCUTIONARY FORCE: the speaker’s intention underlying an illocutionary act (e.g., assert, request)
  38. Name one author who advocates the use of restricted quantifier notation.
    Neale 1990.
  39. Name four sentence elements which, when combined, can produce scope ambiguities.
    • Quantifiers
    • Negation
    • Propositional attitude verbs
    • Modality
  40. Name an author who distinguishes between strong and weak determiners. What are strong and weak determiners?
    Kearns 2000.

    • proportional quantifiers -- strong determiners
    • all, every, most, few (in one of its senses)

    • cardinal quantifiers -- weak determiners
    • no, some, many, several, fourteen
  41. How are strong and weak determiners used differently?
    • Strong determiners
    • - cannot appear in existential there constructions
    • - require a context that specifies the set being quantified over (i.e., require previous mention of the set in question)
    • - cannot occur in predicate position

    • Weak determiners
    • - can occur in existential there constructions
    • - can be used to introduce new participants in discourse
    • - sometimes can occur in predicate positions
  42. Name one author who analyzes the as a strong determiner that specifies a cardinality of one when the modified noun is singular, two or more when the modified noun is plural.
    Kearns 2000.
  43. Who proposes that English adjectives be divided into four distinct classes? And what are those classes?
    Partee 2007.

    • Intersective adjectives
    • yellow, wise, carnivorous

    • Subsective adjectives
    • bad, good, typical, skillful

    • Privative adjectives
    • synthetic, former, counterfeit, would-be, wannabe, past, spurious, imaginary, fictitious, fake, fabricated (in one sense), mythical (maybe debatable); some prefixes have similar semantics, e.g. ex-, pseudo-, non-.

    • "Plain" non-subsective adjectives
    • alleged, potential, possible, arguable, likely, predicted, putative, questionable, disputed
  44. Name an important semantics / pragmatics distinction having to do with mood and modality.
    Mood is an indicator of illocutionary force, in contrast to Modality which is part of the truth-conditional semantic content of the proposition.
  45. Name one author who distinguishes between various kinds of modality, and name the kinds of modality.
    • Kearns 2000.
    • Logical, epistemic, deontic.
  46. Who has noted the "robust cross-linguistic generalization that the same modal words are used to express various types of modality"?
    Hacquard 2007.
  47. Who has pointed out that tense actually locates (i.e., restricts) the speakers assertion, rather than locating the situation itself; that is, tense provides information concerning the time period about which the speaker is making a claim?
    Michaelis 2006.
  48. Name Reichenbach's three "times." State the year when he proposed them. State who modified them, and how he did so.
    • Reichenbach 1947.
    • Klein (2002) modified them (see information in parentheses).
    • Speech time (Speech time) - time of utterance
    • Event time (Situation time) - time of event being described
    • Reference time (Topic time) - time being referred to or talked about; Klein defines this as "the time for which, on some occasion, a claim is made."
  49. Describe the approach of three different authors to Situation Aspect (Aktionsart).
    • Jackendoff 1983: events vs. states
    • "What happened was that..." - if this works, then event
    • Present progressive - if this works, then event

    • Dowty 1979: telic vs. atelic
    • "In an hour..." - if this works, then telic
    • "For an hour..." - if this works, then atelic

    • Smith 1991 (building on Vendler 1967)
    • State +static, +durative, n/a telic
    • Activity -static, +durative, -telic
    • Accomplishment -static, +durative, +telic
    • Achievement -static, -durative, +telic
    • Semelfactive -static, -durative, -telic
  50. Describe the approach of one author to Grammatical Aspect.
    • Comrie 1976
    • Image Upload 1
    • Describes perfective aspect as "viewing a situation externally, from the outside, with no reference to its internal temporal structure" and imperfective as viewed from within "making explicit reference to the internal temporal structure" (Saeed 2009:134).

    • Identified four semantic functions of the aspectual perfect in English:
    • Experiential (or Existential) - Have you ever tasted fresh durian?
    • Perfect of persistent situation (Universal perfect) - He has lived in Canberra since 1975.
    • Perfect of continuing result - I have lost my glasses, so I can't read this telegram.
    • Recent past ("hot news") - A group of former city employees has just abducted the Mayor.
  51. Define perfective and imperfective aspect in terms of Reichenbach's "times."
    • Perfective aspect: event (situation) time fits within reference (topic) time
    • Imperfective aspect: reference (topic) time fits within event (situation) time
  52. Describe some interactions between Situation Aspect and Grammatical Aspect.
    "The definition of imperfective [grammatical] aspect as indicating that R is a subset of E implies that the situation cannot be strictly punctiliar [situation aspect]; it must have some duration" (Kroeger). So achievements and semelfactives (-durative situation aspect) cannot usually be expressed in the progressive tense (imperfective grammatical aspect). If achievements are expressed in the progressive tense, the reference may shift from the event to the process leading up to the event.
  53. If a system of evidential markers has a two-way distinction, what marking pattern(s) will the system typically follow? Who made this observation?
    • Aikhenvald 2004:
    • 1. First-hand vs. non-first-hand, both overtly marked
    • 2. Non-first-hand overtly marked, everything else unmarked
    • 3. Hear-say overtly marked, everything else unmarked
  54. If a system of evidential markers has a three-way distinction, what marking pattern(s) will the system typically follow? Who made this observation?
    • Aikhenvald 2004:
    • 1. Direct/visual, inferred, reported
    • 2. Non-visual sensory, inferred, reported
    • 3. Reportative, quoted, everything else
  55. Cross-linguistically, how widespread is evidentiality? And what is its relationship to modality?
    Aikhenvald (2004) estimates that about a quarter of the world’s languages have grammatical markers of evidentiality. He also argues that evidentiality is not a kind of modality but that evidential may acquire secondary meanings of reliability, probability, and possibility.
  56. Who first examined evidentiality cross-linguistically?
    Chafe and Nichols 1986
  57. Who analyzes Quechua evidentials as illocutionary modifiers?
    Faller 2002. Quechua evidentials modify the felicity conditions associated with a speech act. According to Kroeger, evidentials do not affect the truth value of a proposition.
  58. Define topic and focus, citing your definitions.
    Lambrecht 1994.

    is the "'matter of current concern' about which new information is added in an utterance."

    Focus is "the semantic component of a ... proposition whereby the assertion differs from the presupposition."
  59. Name and illustrate two expressions which have been described as focus sensitive. Name three more words that can be associated with focus. Cite the source of this information.
    Beaver 2004.

    • Negation
    • John didn't send flowers to Susan's mother.
    • John didn't send flowers to Susan's mother. [etc.]

    • Questions
    • Do you want your mother to choose the music?
    • Do you want your mother to choose the music? [etc.]

    Even, only, just
  60. Who noted certain cross-linguistic differences regarding conflation of motion, path, and manner in verbs? And what were those differences?
    Talmy 1985.

    • In English, motion and manner are often conflated in the verb, while path is specified outside of the verb.
    • I swam to the island.
    • The bottle floated into the cave.
    • In Spanish, motion and path are often conflated in the verb, while manner is specified outside of the verb.
    • Fui a la isla nadando.
    • La botella entró a la cueva flotando.
  61. Name and illustrate four different kinds of conditionals.
    • Biscuit conditionals
    • There are biscuits on the sideboard if you want them. (Austin 1956)
    • Standard conditionals
    • There are biscuits on the sideboard if Bill has not moved them.
    • Factual conditionals (presupposes that someone besides the speaker believes the proposition in the antecedent)
    • If it is (really) that late, we need to go home.
    • Concessive conditionals (insert "even"--asserts the consequent as undeniably true)
    • I wouldn't marry you if you were the last man on earth.
  62. Explain an alternative analysis of if (that is, alternative to its classical analysis as material implication). State who made this analysis.
    Kratzer 1986.

    "If-clauses are devices for restricting the domains of various operators. Whenever there is no explict operator, we have to posit one."

    • If it is sunny, <--restriction
    • we always / sometimes / never <--operators
    • play soccer.
Card Set
Semantics - John's study cards
John's personal study set. Content should be double-checked for accuracy. Resources drawn upon include class handouts created by Paul Kroeger, class notes taken by John Howard, and flash cards created by Peter Gokey.