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Hxe302 semantics2

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Hxe302 semantics2 Hxe302 semantics2 Presentation Transcript

  • Meaning, Thought andMeaning, Thought andRealityRealityLecture 2
  • IntroductionIntroduction• NAMING• Words are “names” or “labels” for things… The childlearns many of his words by a process of naming.• All languages have words or expression like John Smith,Paris, Wednesday, the so-called proper nouns, whosefunction is precisely that of naming or labeling.• The dictionary definition of a word is its DENOTATION.The denotation is used to indicate the class of persons,things, etc., generally represented by the expression.(The personal or emotional meaning that a word maycarry is its CONNOTATION.)
  • • The term REFERENCE has already been used tocontrast with denotation. Reference is referred to by it ina particular context. (Thus, cow will denote the class ofall cows, but that cow will refer to a particular cow.)• Reference deals with the relationship between thelinguistic elements, words, sentences, etc., and the non-linguistic world of experience. SENSE relates to thecomplex system of relationships that hold between thelinguistic elements themselves (mostly the words).
  • • The words that are linked with objects in the worldaround us, they often seem to denote a whole set ofrather different objects.• The classification of objects in terms of the words usedto denote them differs from language to language. (ex:the color systems of language)• The words of a language often reflect not so much thereality of the world, but the interests of the people whospeak it.• These scenic classifications of words are not typical ofeveryday experience.
  • • The words that are linked with objects in the worldaround us, they often seem to denote a whole set ofrather different objects.• The classification of objects in terms of the words usedto denote them differs from language to language. (ex:the color systems of language)• The words of a language often reflect not so much thereality of the world, but the interests of the people whospeak it.• These scenic classifications of words are not typical ofeveryday experience.
  • • The basic question – how is it that we can uselanguage to describe the world.• In semantics, the action of picking out oridentifying with words is often calledreferringreferring or denotingdenoting• For example, Kuala Lumpur refers to ordenotes the city, Ali refers to the person whois named Ali. The entity referred to is usuallycalled the referent.referent.
  • Reference• The action of picking out or identifying with words is often calledreferring or denoting, for examples, Paris refers to or denotes thecity, John refers to the person who is named John. The entityreferred to is usually called the referent.• John Lyons separate the terms refer from denote. Denote is usedfor the relationship between a linguistic expression and the world,while refer is used for the action of a speaker in picking out theentities in the world. Referring is what the speakers do, butdenoting is a property of words. Only some of the noun phrasescan have referents, but all the non-functional words and phraseshave denotations.• Noun phrases have the following subtypes: definite noun phrase(also called definite description), indefinite noun phrase, bare nounphrases, names, and pronouns (including demonstratives)
  • • Types of reference:• --- referring/non-referring expressions: nominals (noun phrasesand names) are usually referring expressions, but words like very,so, bad, are not referring expressions. An indefinite noun phrasehas a referring and a non-referring use.• --- constant/variable reference: Usually pronouns have variablereference, but definite NPs can also have variable reference, forexample, the President of the US. Variable reference depends oncontext, and pronouns with contextual dependency are calleddeixis.• The term extension of an expression is the set of which couldpossibly be the referent of that expression. This is the same as thedenotation of an expression mentioned earlier.
  • • Some writers separate the terms refer anddenote. For them, denote is used for therelationship between a linguistic expressionand the world, while refer is used for theaction of a speaker in picking out entities inthe world.• Referring is what the speakers do, butdenoting is a property of words.• Only some of the noun phrases can havereferents, but all the non-functional wordsand phrases have denotations.
  • Two main approaches to the ability to talk aboutTwo main approaches to the ability to talk aboutthe world:the world:1.1. Referential (denotational) approach• This action of putting words into relationship withthe world is meaning, so that to provide a semanticdescription for a language we need to show how theexpressions of the language can ‘hook onto’ theworld.• Thus theories of meaning can be called referential(denotational) when their basic premise is that wecan give the meaning of words and sentences byshowing how they relate to situation.• Ex. Nouns are meaningful because they denoteentities in the world and sentences because theydenote situations and events.
  • • What is the difference between themeanings of:a. There is a restaurant in Gasing Street.b. There isn’t a restaurant in Gasing Street.
  • Representational approach• This approach says that our ability to talkabout the world depends on our mentalmodels of it.• In this view a language represents a theoryabout reality: about the types of things andsituations in the world.• Thus a speaker can choose to view the samesituation in different ways.
  • • Ex.a. Joan is sleeping.b. Joan is asleep.c. You have a cold. (English); A cold has you(Somali); A cold is on you (Irish)• Theories of meaning can be calledrepresentational when their emphasis is on theway that our reports about reality are influencedby the conceptual structures conventionalised inour language.
  • • These two approaches focus on differentaspects of the same process: talking aboutthe world.• In referential theories, meaning derives fromlanguage being attached to, or grounded in,reality.• In representational approach meaningderives from language being a reflection ofour conceptual structures.
  • ReferenceReference• Types of reference: we for the most part confine ourdiscussion to the referential possibilities of namesand NPs, which together we can call nominals, sincethe nominal is the linguistic unit which most clearlyreveals this function of language.• 1. referring and non-referring expressions• There linguistic expressions which can never be usedto refer, e.g. the words so, very, maybe, if, not, all.These are intrinsically non-referring items.
  • • When someone says the noun cat in a sentence like The catlooks vicious, the noun is referring expression since it is beingused to identify an entity. So nouns are potentially referringexpressions.2. Constant vs variable reference- Some expressions will have the same referent across a rangeof utterances, e.g. the Eiffel Tower or the Pacific Ocean.- Others have their reference totally independent on context,for ex. pronouns, anaphors (variable reference)a. I wrote you.b. She put it in my office.
  • • 3. Referents and extensions• We use the term referentreferent of an expression for thething picked out by uttering the expression in aparticular context.• The term extensionextension of an expression is the set ofthings which could possibly be the referent of thatexpression. In the terminology of Lyons (1977) therelationship between an expression and itsextension is called denotation.• Ex. The capital of Nigeria would be the city of Abuja