semantics examples handout

Designing Languages
Sense and Reference
a. The Morning Star is the Evening Star.
b. Venus is Venus.
c. Hank doesn't know that the Morning Star is the Evening Star.
d. Hank doesn't know that Venus is Venus.
Lexical Relations
a. Synonymy: sofa/couch, cease/stop
b. Antonymy
1. Complementary pairs: alive/dead, present/absent, awake/asleep
2. Gradable pairs: big/small, short/tall, hot/cold, high/low.
3. Relational opposites: over/under, doctor/patient, buy/sell
4. Autoantonyms: cleave, dust, rent, pitted, weather
Semantic Features
a. mare: horse, female, adult
b. sofa: furniture, for sitting, has back and arms, long
c. armchair: furniture, used for sitting, has back and arms, not very wide
d. die: to become dead
e. kill: to cause to become dead
f. darken: to cause to become dark
g. swim: to go, in liquid
h. walk: to go, on legs, relatively slow pace
i. Helen doubts that she'll ever enjoy fondue again.
j. *Helen thinks that she'll ever enjoy fondue again.
Principle of Compositionality
a. The bull we got from Farmer Bob was amazing.
b. Visiting relatives can be tedious.
Truth-conditional semantics
a. Molybdenum conducts electricity.
b. A million years ago a rock the shape of a geoduck flew into the sun.
c. Tautology
1. Either I'll live through this or I won't.
2. Dogs are mammals.
d. Contradiction
1. This sentence is both true and false.
2. Animals are people, too.
3. Bob isn't himself today.
e. Paradox
1. This sentence is false.
f. Entailment
1. I bought an old mare at the auction.
2. I bought a horse at the auction.
3. The children sang and danced.
4. The children sang.
5. The children sang and/or danced.
6. Greg called Marsha.
7. Marsha was called by Greg.
8. Smoking is bad for you.
9. Smoking is not bad for you.
a. Stolen painting found by tree.
b. New housing for elderly not yet dead.
c. Kids make nutritious snacks.
d. Panel says school bus passengers should be belted.
Semantic Rules
a. Jack swims.
b. Jack kissed Laura.
c. blue suit
d. big whale
e. alleged thief
f. fake Picasso
Problematic Cases
a. Anomaly
1. Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
b. Metaphor
c. Idiom
1. Robbie ate my dust.
2. Robbie ate my sandwich
a. Jane bit herself.
b. *Jane said that Bill bit herself.
c. *Herself left.
d. *John believes him.
e. John believes that he is a genius.
f. We gave the bananas to the monkeys because they were hungry.
g. We gave the bananas to the monkeys because they were ripe.
a. Demonstrative articles: this, that, these, those
b. Person deixis: that man, those hoodlums, yon virgin
c. Time deixis: now, then, tomorrow, next Tuesday
d. Place deixis: here, there, everywhere
Gricean Maxims
a. Can you pass the salt?
b. Do you know what time it is?
c. Would you like some coffee? – Coffee keeps me awake.
d. (in a letter of reference for graduate school)
Dear Colleagues,
Cornelius is always neatly dressed and has good penmanship.
Dr. Brian L. Walter
e. The singer produced a series of sounds corresponding closely to the score of an
aria from Rigoletto.
Activity: For each of the following, say what the sentence actually means and identify the
Gricean Maxims that the speaker and hearer use to arrive at that meaning.
f. Bob isn't himself today.
g. It wouldn't kill you to say "thank you" once in a while.
h. (on the telephone)
Person A: What's Mom doing right now?
Person B: Yes, I think Washington did become a state in 1889.
a. If you eat your vegetables, you can have dessert.
b. If you don't eat your vegetables, you can't have dessert.
c. In fact, you can have dessert either way.
d. I pushed the button and the door opened.
e. The door opened because I pushed the button.
f. In fact, the door opened because somebody came through it.
Speech acts
a. I hereby promise that I will never go hungry again!
b. ?I hereby eat my dinner.