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The meaning of Language. Chapter 5 Semantics and Pragmatics Week10 Nov.19 th -23 rd. This is only a summary. Reviewing the Tree diagram ( Sentences: Hierarchical Organization ) 2. What do you know about meaning, when you know a language? 3. What is Semantics?

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the meaning of language

The meaning of Language

Chapter 5

Semantics and Pragmatics



This is only a summary


Reviewing the Tree diagram (Sentences: Hierarchical Organization )

  • 2. What do you know about meaning, when you know a language?
  • 3. What is Semantics?
  • 4. What Speakers know about sentence meaning?
  • 5.When Compositionality goes Awry.
  • 6. Lexical Semantics (Word meanings)
  • 1.Theories of Word meaning.
  • 2.Lexical Relations
  • 3. Semantic Features
  • 7. Thematic Roles.
  • Pragmatics:
  • Linguistic Context
  • Situational Context
  • Discourse Analysis Vs. Situational. Page 199-200
  • Pronouns:
    • Types of pronouns, reflexive and non reflexive.
    • Pronouns and discourse
  • 5. Deixis
  • More about situational context
  • Maxims of conversation
  • Speech acts
template vs tree diagram

The boy raced the girl.


This TEMPLATE says that a determiner is followed by a noun, which is followed be a verb, etc

This TEMPLATE, however, suggests that words have no internal organization.

Thus, we can use a TREE DIAGRAM to make it easier to see the parts and subparts of a sentence.

As a result, the structure of the sentence can be recognized in the tree’s hierarchical organization.

Template vs. Tree Diagram

The meaning of language

Page 173


Page 173

What do you know about meaning, when you know a language ?

Meaningful and meaningless words and sentences.

When a word is ambiguous.

When 2 words have the same meaning or the opposite.

When sentences are true or false.

what speakers know about sentence meaning
What Speakers Know About Sentence Meaning?
  • Truth
  • Entailment and Related Notions.
  • Ambiguity.

Page 174-177

when compositionality goes awry
When Compositionality Goes Awry
  • Anomaly.
  • Metaphor
  • Idioms

Page 181-186

lexical semantics
Lexical Semantics
  • Page 186-187
  • Theories of word meaning
  • Lexical Relations
  • Semantic Features.
theories of word meaning
Theories of word meaning

In this section we are going to answer the question, if the meaning of a word is not like a dictionary entry, then what is it?

a. Reference definition + example.

b. Sense definition + example.

Page 187-188

lexical relations
Lexical Relations

Page 189-192

“Characterizing the meaning of words in terms of their relationship” –Yule-


2. Antonyms (a. gradable b. relational opposites c. by adding prefixes)

3. Homonyms; same spelling ,homophones; same sound

4. Polysemy

5. Hyponym

6. Metonym

semantic features
Semantic Features

Semantic features such as “human”, “female"," young”, “cause”, or “go” can be treated as the basic elements involved in differentiating the meaning of each word in a language from every other word.

We can characterize the feature that is crucially required in a noun in order for it to appear as the subject for a particular verb.

The____N +human_____ is reading the newspaper.


Part of the meaning of words may be described by the semantic features

  • Evidence of semantic features:
  • Semantic properties are not directly observable. Their existence must be inferred from linguistic evidence. Page 193
  • Semantic Features of nounspage 194
  • Semantic Features of verbspage 195
thematic roles
Thematic Roles

Consider the following sentence:

The boy rolled a red ball.

The NP subject and the VP are semantically related in many ways, and the meaning depends on the meaning of the particular verb.



Page 197-198

semantic roles
Semantic Roles
  • Agent:who preforms the action of the verb, “doer”
  • Theme:involved or effected by the action, “undergoes”
  • Goal:Endpoint of a change in location, where it moves to.
  • Source:where the entry move from.
  • Instrument:if an agent uses another entry to preform an action.
  • Experiencer:who has feelings, perceptions, receiving sensory input.