About this topic
Summary A semantics for a particular language L is a theory that maps each sentence of L onto its meaning, usually by having theorems of the appropriate form among its deductive consequences. It is standard (although controversial) to require an adequate semantics for L to be compositional – that is, to show how the meaning of each sentence of L is determined by the meanings of its basic lexical items and its syntactic structure. A central foundational question about semantics concerns its proper object of study: what features of an expression count as its semantic ones? One standard answer is that semantics should be “outward-looking” and concern itself with the word-world relational features of expressions, especially those that determine the truth-conditions of sentences. Another influential answer is that semantics should be “inward-looking” and concern itself with relationships between expressions and mental representations. Further important questions concern how linguistic meaning interacts with features of extra-linguistic context, how semantic and pragmatic phenomena are to be distinguished, and what role (if any) an adequate semantics for L should play in explaining the capacity of competent L-speakers to use and understand utterances in L.    
Key works See Davidson 1967, Soames 2009, Jackendoff 1990 and Higginbotham 1992 for important discussions of the proper object of study for semantics. Montague 1974 and Partee 1973 are crucial texts on the application of formal methods to the semantics of natural language. Devitt 2006 is a critical discussion on the role of semantic theory (and linguistics more generally) in explaining linguistic competence. Kaplan 1989 is a landmark treatment of context-sensitivity within semantic theory. Preyer & Peter 2007 and Szabo 2005 are valuable collections that discuss some of the controversies about the role of context in semantics and about how to distinguish semantics from pragmatics, respectively.
Introductions Good introductions to natural language semantics are Heim & Kratzer 1998, Larson & Segal 1995, and Chierchia & McConnell-Ginet 2000. Portner & Partee 2002 is a collection of important primary texts.
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Subcategories:History/traditions: Semantics

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  1. The Verbal Aspect Integral to the Perfect and Pluperfect Tense-forms in the Pauline Corpus: A Semantic and Pragmatic Approach.James Sedlacek - 2022 - Pieterlen, Switzerland: Peter Lang.
    This book argues that the verbal aspect of the Greek Perfect is complex, involving not one but two aspects, where the perfective applies to events and the imperfective applies to states. These two aspects are connected to specific morphemes in the Perfect tense-form. This study analyses Perfect tense-forms in discursive text by focusing on the Pauline Corpus. The method is grounded in grammaticalisation studies and informed by morphology, comparative linguistics, and historical linguistics. The argument is further supported by a corpus-based (...)
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  2. A Diachronic Analysis of The Form of the Greek Perfect and its Associated Uses: Arguing for a Complex Verbal Aspect.James Sedlacek - 2019 - In Maria Chondrogianni, Simon Courtenage, Geoffrey Horrocks, Amalia Arvaniti & Ianthi Tsimpli (eds.), Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Greek Linguistics. London: University of Westminster. pp. 235-247.
    Η εργασία αυτή θα αρχίσει με μια επισκόπηση των ποικίλων μορφών, συμπεριλαμβανομένων των σύνθετων και περιφραστικών μορφών του ελληνικού Παρακείμενου παράλληλα με το εύρος των χρήσεων τους όπως παρατηρούνται καθ’ όλη την ιστορία της γλώσσας, τοποθετώντας ταυτόχρονα αυτές τις μορφές και χρήσεις σε μία ιστορική πορεία. Η μορφολογία του Παρακείμενου θα συγκριθεί με εκείνη του Ενεστώτα και του Αορίστου, προκειμένου να καθοριστεί ότι το ποιόν του ρηματικού θέματός του είναι συνοπτικό ώστε να ταιριάζει με τον Αόριστο και να αντιτάσσεται στον (...)
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  3. Musical Jabberwocky? [REVIEW]Timothy Justus - 2002 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 6:144–145.
    In this book review essay, Justus discusses Virtual Music: Computer Synthesis of Musical Style (2001) by David Cope. The review begins by drawing a parallel between the Turing Test and evaluating the compositions of Cope’s Experiments in Musical Intelligence (EMI) before providing an overview of how this computer programme works and the commentaries included in the book (by Douglas Hofstadter, Eleanor Selfridge-Field, Bernard Greenberg, Steve Larson, Jonathan Berger, and Daniel Dennett). The essay then raises questions of absolute music versus music (...)
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  4. Debunking Multiform Dimensionality: many, Romance tant-PL, & morpho-syntactic opacity.Antonio Maria Cleani & Luis Miguel Toquero-Pérez - 2022 - Proceedings of Salt32.
    The interpretation of `much/many' has been argued to be regulated by Uniform Dimensionality (Hackl 2000; Solt 2009): `much' is underspecified but `many' encodes cardinality. However, given some data where `many' denotes ‘volume’, Snyder (2021) proposes the need for Multiform Dimensionality: both `much' and `many' are underspecifed. After reviewing the English data, and in light of novel cross-linguistic data, we argue that neither generalization is fully accurate. Instead, following Wellwood (2015, 2018), we argue for an alternative, Abstract Uniform Dimensionality, which we (...)
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  5. Merely verbal disputes and common ground.James Miller - 2022 - Theoria (1):114-123.
    In this paper I offer a new characterisation of what makes a dispute merely verbal. This new characterisation builds on the framework initially outlined by Jenkins and additionally makes use of Stalnaker's notion of ‘common ground’. I argue that this ‘common ground account’ can better classify disputes as merely verbal, and can better explain cases of playing devil's advocate. (Paper published Open Access).
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  6. Experiential Content.Nate Charlow - manuscript
    This paper develops and motivates an Expressivist theory of experiential talk and thought. According to this theory, one way for S to think that o tastes a way w is simply for o to taste w to S. When o tastes w to S (and, therefore, S thinks that o tastes w), S can express this thought, by saying that o tastes w. The speech act wherein S expresses the thought that o tastes w, so understood, must be distinguished from (...)
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  7. Peter D. Mosses, Action Semantics[REVIEW]Varol Akman - 1993 - Journal of Logic and Computation 3 (4):442-444.
    This is a review of Action Semantics, by Peter D. Mosses, Cambridge Tracts in Theoretical Computer Science 26, Cambridge University Press, 1992.
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  8. Introduction to semantics: an essential guide to the composition of meaning.Thomas Ede Zimmermann - 2013 - Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton.
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  9. al-Ḥadāthah wa-al-naṣṣ al-dīnī: al-tafkīkīyah namūdhajan.ʻIzz al-Dīn Muʻmīsh - 2013 - al-Jazāʼir: Dār al-Khaldūnīyah.
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  10. Ilimin harsuna.Ya'akub Musa Muhammad - 2013 - Samaru, Zaria, Nijeriya: Kamfanin Dab'i na Jami'ar Ahmadu Bello.
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  11. The semantics of affirmation: Serbian, other Slavic languages and English in cognitive analysis.Marcin Grygiel - 2013 - Rzeszów: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Rzeszowskiego.
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  12. La tragedia del sentido entre las normas sociales y la ley.Hugo Daniel Aguilar & Marisa Moyano (eds.) - 2013 - Elena, Argentina: Miguel Ángel Tréspidi Ediciones.
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  13. Savremeni tokovi u lingvističkim istraživanjima.Vesna Polovina & Julijana Vučo (eds.) - 2013 - Beograd: Filološki fakultet Univerziteta.
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  14. Problemy kont︠s︡eptualʹnoĭ sistematiki i︠a︡zyka, rechi i rechevoĭ dei︠a︡telʹnosti: materialy 7-ĭ vserossiĭskoĭ zaochnoĭ nauchnoĭ konferent︠s︡ii.G. M. Kosti︠u︡shkina (ed.) - 2013 - Irkutsk: IGLU.
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  15. Perception and Cognition in Language and Culture.A. I︠U︡ Aĭkhenvalʹd & Anne Storch (eds.) - 2013 - LEIDEN: Brill.
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  16. Personal subject pronouns and the meta-informative centering of utterances in classical Latin.Perrine Vedrenne-Cloquet - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  17. Tonic and atonic pronouns in classical Greek: A pragmatic choice by the speaker.Jean-Christophe Pitavy - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  18. Object personal and reflexive pronouns as centres of attention of base and extended utterances in classical modern literary Russian.Olivier Azam - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  19. Verbal aspect in Slavic languages between semantics and pragmatics.Hélène Wlodarczyk - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  20. Structure of centre of attention in a multi-party conversation in Japanese: Based on the data of a review meeting concerning a Science Café held in Hiroshima.Miki Saijo - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  21. It-clefts in the meta-informative structure of the utterance in modern and present-day English.Ana E. Martínez-Insua & Javier Pérez Guerra - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  22. Discourse coherence and referent identification of subject ellipsis in Japanese.Shigeko Nariyama - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  23. Tracing the role of memory and attention for the meta-informative validation of utterances.Franz J. Stachowiak - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  24. Semantic and episodic memory with respect to the ontological grounding of the old and new meta-informative status.Franz J. Stachowiak - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  25. Attention-centered information in language.Hélène Wlodarczyk - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  26. Grounding of the meta-informative status of utterances.André Wlodarczyk - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  27. Frames of semantic situations.André Wlodarczyk - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  28. Roles and anchors of semantic situations.André Wlodarczyk - 2013 - In Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.), Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics. John Benjamins.
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  29. Meta-informative centering of utterances between semantics and pragmatics.Hélène Wlodarczyk & André Wlodarczyk (eds.) - 2013 - Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
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  30. From grammar to meaning: the spontaneous logicality of language.Ivano Caponigro & Carlo Cecchetto (eds.) - 2013 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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  31. Alternatives in Semantics.Anamaria Fălăuş (ed.) - 2013 - New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.
    Alternatives in Semantics is the first volume to focus on alternatives as a key theme. It offers a survey of the use of alternatives in semantics and pragmatics, and an overview of current approaches and applications of alternative-based semantics, from both theoretical and experimental perspectives. The chapters represent different theoretical frameworks, which differ in the way they conceive of the source of alternatives, the status of alternatives, or the precise way in which they enter semantic composition. The contributions focus on (...)
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  32. Advances in frame semantics.Mirjam Fried & Kiki Nikiforidou (eds.) - 2013 - Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
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  33. Biased Polar Questions In English And Japanese.Yasutada Sudo - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  34. Expressing Surprise By Particles.Henk Zeevat - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  35. Common Ground Management: Modal Particles, Illocutionary Negation and Verum.Sophie Repp - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  36. Implicature.Laurence R. Horn - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  37. Discourse Particles, Common Ground, and Felicity Conditions.Markus Egg - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  38. Modal Particles And Context Shift.Sophia Doring - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  39. German Non-inflectional Constructions as Separate Performatives.Sebastian Bucking & Jennifer Rau - 2013 - In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives: Explorations in Use-Conditional Meaning. Brill.
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  40. Référence et rigidité des termes singuliers: les indexicaux auto-désignatifs.Jean-Pierre Badidike - 2013 - Louvain-la-neuve: Academia-L'Harmattan.
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  41. Frames of understanding in text and discourse: theoretical foundations and descriptive applications.Alexander Ziem - 2014 - Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
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  42. Frames of understanding in text and discourse: theoretical foundations and descriptive applications.Alexander Ziem - 2014 - Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
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  43. Sadness Expressions in English and Chinese: corpus linguistic contrastive semantic analysis.Ruihua Zhang - 2014 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
    This book reports on the contrastive-semantic investigation of sadness expressions between English and Chinese, based on two monolingual general corpora and a parallel corpus. The exploration adopts a unique theoretical approach which integrates corpus-linguistic theories on meaning (as a social construct, usage and paraphrase) with a corpus-linguistic lexical model. It employs a new complex but workable methodology which combines computational tools with manual examination to tease meaning out of corpus evidence, to compare and contrast lexical items that do not match (...)
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  44. Sadness Expressions in English and Chinese: corpus linguistic contrastive semantic analysis.Ruihua Zhang - 2014 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
    This book reports on the contrastive-semantic investigation of sadness expressions between English and Chinese, based on two monolingual general corpora and a parallel corpus. The exploration adopts a unique theoretical approach which integrates corpus-linguistic theories on meaning (as a social construct, usage and paraphrase) with a corpus-linguistic lexical model. It employs a new complex but workable methodology which combines computational tools with manual examination to tease meaning out of corpus evidence, to compare and contrast lexical items that do not match (...)
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  45. Yu yi chang: sheng cun de ben ti lun quan shi: ren lei xing wei dong li yan jiu = Semantic field: the ontological interpretation of existence: a study on human behaviors dynamics.Daixing Tang - 2014 - Beijing Shi: Zhong yang bian yi chu ban she.
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  46. Verbale und nonverbale Vagheit in englisch- und deutschsprachigen Interviews.Kerstin Petermann - 2014 - Berlin: Frank & Timme.
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  47. Text und Emotion: Theorie, Methode undAnwendungsbeispiele emotionslinguistischer Textanalyse.Heike Ortner - 2014 - Tübingen: Narr Verlag.
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  48. Shi, senryū, haiku no tekusuto bunseki: goi no zushiki de yomitoku.Masamichi Nobayashi - 2014 - Ōsaka-shi: Izumi Shoin.
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  49. The (ir)reversibility of English binomials: corpus, constraints, developments.Sandra Mollin - 2014 - Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
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  50. Leksicheskai︠a︡ polisemii︠a︡ v kognitivnom aspekte.L. M. Leshchëva - 2014 - Moskva: Znak.
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