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UNIT 1 ABOUT SEMANTICS

Definition

SEMANTICS is the study of MEANING in LANGUAGE

Definition
SPEAKER MEANING is what a speaker means (i.e. intends to convey) when
he uses a piece of language.
SENTENCE MEANING (orWORD MEANING) is what a sentence (or
word) means, i.e. what it counts as the equivalent of in the language concerned.
Comment The distinction is useful in analysing the various kinds of communication
between people made possible by language.

Definition
An UTTERANCE is any stretch of talk, by one person, before and after which
there is silence on the part of that person.
An utterance is the USE by a particular speaker, on a particular occasion,
of a piece of language, such as a sequence of sentences, or a single phrase, or
even a single word.
Practice
` Now decide whether the following could represent utterances. Indicate your
answer by circling Yes or No.

Definition
A SENTENCE is neither a physical event nor a physical object. It is, conceived
abstractly, a string of words put together by the grammatical rules of a
language. A sentence can be thought of as the IDEAL string of words behind
various realizations in utterances and inscriptions.
Practice
Some examples will help to get the idea of a sentence across. Indicate your
answer by circling Yes or No.

Definition
A SENTENCE is a grammatically complete string of words expressing a
complete thought.
Comment
This very traditional definition is unfortunately vague, but it is hard to arrive
at a better one for our purposes. It is intended to exclude any string of words
that does not have a verb in it, as well as other strings. The idea is best shown
by examples.
Example I would like a cup of coffee is a sentence.
Coffee, please is not a sentence.
In the kitchen is not a sentence.
Please put it in the kitchen is a sentence

Definition
A PROPOSITION is that part of the meaning of the utterance of a
declarative sentence which describes some state of affairs.
Comment
The state of affairs typically involves persons or things referred to by
expressions in the sentence and the situation or action they are involved in.
In uttering a declarative sentence a speaker typically asserts a proposition.

Definition
By means of reference, a speaker indicates which things in the world
(including persons) are being talked about.

Definition
To turn from reference to sense, the SENSE of an expression is its place in a
system of semantic relationships with other expressions in the language. The
first of these semantic relationships that we will mention is sameness of
meaning, an intuitive concept which we will illustrate by example.We will
deal first with the senses of words in context.
Practice
Say whether the pairs of words in the curly brackets in the sentences below
have approximately the same meaning (S) or a different meaning (D).

Definition
A REFERRING EXPRESSION is any expression used in an utterance to refer
to something or someone (or a clearly delimited collection of things or
people), i.e. used with a particular referent in mind.
Example
The name Fred in an utterance such as Fred hit me, where the speaker has
a particular person in mind when he says Fred, is a referring expression.
Fred in Theres no Fred at this address is not a referring expression,
because in this case a speaker would not have a particular person in mind in
uttering the word.

Definition
An EQUATIVE SENTENCE is one which is used to assert the identity of the
referents of two referring expressions, i.e. to assert that two referring
expressions have the same referent.
Example
The following are equative sentences:
Tony Blair is the Prime Minister
That woman over there is my daughters teacher

Definition The PREDICATOR of a simple declarative sentence is the word (sometimes a


(partial) group of words) which does not belong to any of the referring expressions
and which, of the remainder, makes the most specific contribution to the
meaning of the sentence. Intuitively speaking, the predicator describes the
state or process in which the referring expressions are involved.
Example
asleep is the predicator in Mummy is asleep and describes the state Mummy is
in.
love is the predicator in The white man loved the Indian maiden and describes
the process in which the two referring expressions the white man and the
Indian maiden are involved.
wait for is the predicator in Jimmy was waiting for the downtown bus and
describes the process involving Jimmy and the downtown bus.

Definition A PREDICATE is any word (or sequence of words) which (in a given single
sense) can function as the predicator of a sentence.
Example hungry, in, crook, asleep, hit, show, bottle, are all predicates; and, or, but, not,
are not predicates.