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Introduction to Linguistics Semantics I Semantics: How form relates to meaning. Syntax: Structure of sentences. Morphology: Structure of words. Phonology: Structure of sounds. Phonetics: How sounds are articulated. Basics Form and Meaning form /ðə “thekæt cat sæt sat on ɔn ðə themæt/ mat” meaning Compositionality • Sentences follow the principle of compositionality: the meaning of the whole is the meaning of the parts plus how they are combined. form “the cat sat on the mat” meaning What is Meaning? • We distinguish two aspects of linguistic meaning: sense and reference. • Sense is the mental representation of a meaning. • • The concept in your mind when you hear “table”. Reference is the actual entities in the world that an utterance refers to. • If I say “that table” and point at a particular table, the referent is that actual physical thing. Sense and Reference Sense Reference “that cup” Sense and Reference • Sense: A mental representation of the meaning of a linguistic expression. • Reference: The set of real objects in the world that a linguistic expression in a particular utterance refers to. • Some expressions have sense but have no reference! • Example: • A unicorn • Sense: A horse-like four-legged creature with one horn on its forehead head. • Reference: Ø, empty set (in our world). Sense without Reference • Examples of expressions with sense but no reference: • Could a linguistic expression have reference without having sense? • The queen of the United States • The tie that I am wearing • The first person on Mars • Zeus •… Multiple Senses, Same Reference The most populous country in the world Reference Reference The country that hosted the 2008 Olympics • The most populous country in the world and The country that hosted the 2008 Olympics have diﬀerent senses. • But they have the same reference (the country of China). Multiple Senses, Same Reference The most populous country in the world Reference Reference The country that hosted the 2008 Olympics • You can tell the senses are diﬀerent because: • 1. In the future or the past, the references for these expressions might change to two diﬀerent things. • 2. You can know that China is the most populous country in the world and not know that it is the country that hosted the 2008 Olympics. Sense vs. Reference • • An expression can have sense without having reference. • • Sense is like the definition of a word. Two expressions can have diﬀerent senses but the same reference. Reference is the actual objects in the world picked out by a word in context. • The set of objects in the world that match the definition given by the sense.
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