Semantics II - Linguistics 1AA3 Semantics II Beyond the...

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Linguistics 1AA3 Semantics II
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2 Beyond the words… Meaning of phrases and sentences Sense and reference Verb as the semantic centre of the sentence; thematic roles Sentence meaning Truth conditions Pronouns and reference Broken rules: anomaly, contradiction, etc. Metaphors and idioms
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3 Does the Lego metaphor apply to semantics? If the metaphor applies, then the meaning of phrases and sentences is composed (put together) from the meanings of words (and morphemes). Sometimes it is, sometimes it is not… John and Mary walked to the camp . Who spilled the beans?
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4 Compositionality of meaning Noun Phrases: N is the head and centre of meaning: white rabbit ; large mouse ; tiny elephant But: false friend is not at all a friend alleged murderer is not a murderer
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5 Meanings of Adjectives Adjectives Truth of “An Adj X is an X” Good, real, small true: A small dog is a dog False, phony , etc. false: A false ID is not an ID Alleged, supposed undetermined: An alleged murderer may or may not be a murderer
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6 Meanings of compounds a blackboard = a black board a greenhouse a green house (but it is a kind of house) a pickpocket is not a kind of pocket but someone who picks pockets (a thief). But it is a Noun. A redneck is not a kind of neck but a person. HEAD
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7 Thematic Roles also called Participant Roles or θ-roles [theta] Sentences mean something not only as a sum of the meaning of the words in them. The structure and the word order are also important! Ex. The dog licked the boy… ? The boy licked the dog…
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8 Thematic Roles But sometimes different structures can have the same meaning: The man opened the door with a key The man used a key to open the door
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9 Thematic Roles When we interpret sentences, we pay attention to the roles that different NPs play in the event described by the Verb… The man opened the door with a key Agent Theme Instrument The man used a key to open the door Agent Instrument Theme
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10 Thematic Roles Verb TO WRITE : Who? What? AGENT THEME Subcategorization of WRITE: <Agent>, <Theme> Other possible questions: Why? With what instrument? On what? To whom? About what? Joanna wrote a letter to her best friend AGENT THEME GOAL A letter was written by Joanna to her best friend THEME AGENT GOAL
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11 Commonly distinguished θ-Roles Agent: the entity responsible for the action, prototypically human, acting intentionally and on purpose. Theme/Patient: the entity that is affected by the action of the Agent, one that undergoes a change of state or is moved from one place to another. Experiencer: usually subject of verbs that express internal states or emotions. Jon
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This note was uploaded on 07/23/2008 for the course HUMANITIES LINGUISTIC taught by Professor Thomas during the Winter '08 term at McMaster University.

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Semantics II - Linguistics 1AA3 Semantics II Beyond the...

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