Personal notes from textbook

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31 Dec 2010
School
Department
Course
Professor
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
oConsistent 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
oCaused-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
oDouble 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
-Ex. Nic gazed at shoes with green eyes and wallet.
Reading: one
interpretation
Structural
ambiguity
clarified through
structure drawing
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Thematic roles
-Label categorizing the relation between parts of a sentence and the event that the
sentence describes
oAgent
Entity performing an action
oTheme
Entity undergoing an action or movement
oSource
Starting point of a movement
oGoal
End point of a movement
oLocation
Place where an action occurs
- Assigned to NPs based on syntactical position
oOne role per NP
-NPs D-structure position determines its thematic role
oNP may be moved but thematic role unchanged
Pronoun interpretation
-Syntactic structure impacts pronoun interpretation
-Pronominal
Singular Plural
1st person I, meWe, us
2nd person You You
3rd person He, him
She, her
It
They
-Reflexive
Singular Plural
1st person MyselfOurselves
2nd person YourselfYourself
3rd person Himself
Herself
Itself
Themselves
-Antecedent: element determining pronoun interpretation
oPronominals and reflexives differ in where their antecedents occur
-C-commanding
oNP1 c-commands NP2 if the first category above NP1 contains NP2
Structurally
Pronouns occur
as head of NPs
Possessor NPs
occur in
specifier
position within a
larger NP
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Document Summary

The study of meaning in human language. Positioning of words and phrases in syntactic sequence determines the meaning of the entire sentence: consistent with the 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. Structural patterns capable of carrying meaning above and beyond the meaning of components: caused-motion construction. Constructional meaning exist: verb does not imply caused motion, part of meaning derived from structural pattern, double object construction. constructional meaning exist: verb does not imply object having something, part of meaning derived from structural pattern. Component words combined in multiple ways, with different interpretations. Nic gazed at shoes with green eyes and wallet. Label categorizing the relation between parts of a sentence and the event that the sentence describes: agent. entity undergoing an action or movement: source.

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