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University of Toronto St. George

Semantics - The study of meaning in human language Syntax and sentence interpretation - Positioning of words and phrases in syntactic sequence determines the meaning of the entire sentence o Consistent with the principle of compositionality Principle of compositionality - Sentence meaning determined by the meaning of its component parts and the manner in which they are arranged in syntactic structure Four ways syntactic structure contributes to the interpretation of sentences - Constructional meaning - Structural ambiguity - Thematic roles - Pronoun interpretation Constructional meaning - Structural patterns capable of carrying meaning above and beyond the meaning of components o Caused-motion construction NP V NP PP form X causes Y to go somewhere meaning Constructional meaning exist Verb does not imply caused motion Part of meaning derived from structural pattern o Double object construction NP V NP NP meaning X causes Y to have Z meaning Constructional meaning exist Verb does not imply object having something Part of meaning derived from structural pattern Structural ambiguity - Component words combined in multiple ways, with different interpretations Reading: one - Ex. Nic gazed at shoes with green eyes and wallet. interpretation Structural ambiguity clarified through structure drawing
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