File 6.0-6.4: Semantics (F) Flashcards Preview

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What can semantics be divided in?

- Lexical semantics
- Compositional semantics


lexical semantics

Lexical semantics deals with the meanings of words and other lexical expressions, including the meaning relationships among them.


compositional semantics

Compositional semantics is concerned with phrasal meanings and how phrasal meanings are assembled. The meaning of sentences and how they are assembled.


What are the two aspects of linguistic meaning?

- Sense
- Reference


How do we store word meanings?

a. Dictionary-Style Definitions
b. Mental Image Definitions
c. Usage-Based Definitions


Dictionary-Style Definitions

Word meanings store in our minds with words describing words.


Mental Image Definitions

Word meanings stored in our minds as a mental image. Think of the words Mona Lisa.



For any given set, a member that exhibits the typical qualities of the members of that set.
So, for a mental image based storage one image represents a word, but is often very specific and the word can mean more than one idea so the image isn't always a good representation.


Usage-Based Definition

A characterization of a word’s sense based on the way that the word is used by speakers of a language.


In what way can words semantically be related?

- Hyponymy (sister terms)
- Synonymy
- Antonymy



A meaning relationship between words where the reference of some word X is included in the reference of some other word Y. X is then said to be a hyponym of Y, and conversely, Y is said to be a hypernym of X. (See also Sister Terms.)
For example, consider the words dog and poodle. The reference of dog is the set of all things that are dogs, while the reference of poodle is the set of all things that are poodles.


sister terms

Another word for hyponymy, when the reference is on the same level in the hierarchy.



Two words are synonymous if they have exactly the same reference. (couch/sofa, etc.)



Two words that are opposite of each other.
In order for two words to be antonyms of one another, they must have meanings that are related, yet these meanings must contrast with each other in some significant way.


In which ways can words be opposite of each other?

- Complementary
- Gradable pairs
- Reverses
- Converses


complementary antonyms

Two words X and Y are complementary antonyms if there is nothing in the world
that is a part of both X’s reference and Y’s reference. (married/unmarried)


gradable antonyms

Gradable antonyms typically represent points on a continuum, so while something can be one or the other but not both, it can also easily be between the two. (wet/dry, hot/cold)


reverses antonyms

Reverses are pairs of words that suggest some kind of movement, where one word in the pair suggests movement that “undoes” the movement suggested by the other. (put together/take apart, ascent/descent)


converses antonyms

Converses have to do with two opposing points of view or a change in perspective: for one member of the pair to have reference, the other must as well. (lend/borrow, send/receive)



The claim expressed by a sentence is called a proposition.

The sense expressed by a sentence. Characteristically, propositions can be true or false, i.e., have truth values.


truth value

The ability to be true or false is the ability to have a truth
value. (It doesn't have to be true!)


truth conditions

The conditions that
would have to hold in the world in order for some proposition to be true are
called truth conditions.


What kind of propositional relationships are there?

- Entailment
(- Mutual entailment)
- Incompatible



A relationship between
propositions where a proposition p is said to entail another proposition q just in case if p is true, q has to be true as well.
a. All dogs bark.
b. Sally’s dog barks.


mutual entailment

The relationship between two propositions where they entail one another.
a. Ian has a female sibling.
b. Ian has a sister.


incompatible for propositional relationship

This means that it would be
impossible for both of them to be true; that is, the truth conditions for one are
incompatible with the truth conditions for the other.
a. No dogs bark.
b. All dogs bark.


phrasal expressions

Sentences, words put together that form a meaning


principle of compositionality

the meaning of a sentence (or any other multi-word expression) is a function of the meanings of the words it contains and the way in which these words are syntactically combined.
The principle of compositionality simply states that the meanings of multi-word expressions are compositional, that is, predictable from the meanings of words and their syntactic combination.



predictable from the meanings of words and their syntactic combination.



A multi-word lexical expression whose meaning is not compositional.