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On Concepts, Modules, and LanguageCognitive Science at Its Core$
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Roberto G. de Almeida and Lila R. Gleitman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190464783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190464783.001.0001

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Semantics for a Module

Semantics for a Module

Chapter:
(p.113) 5 Semantics for a Module
Source:
On Concepts, Modules, and Language
Author(s):

Roberto G. de Almeida

Ernie Lepore

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190464783.003.0006

Fodor’s The Modularity of Mind (1983) and subsequent work propose a principled distinction between perceptual computations and background knowledge. The chapter argues that language input analyzers produce a minimally—and highly constrained—context-sensitive propositional representation of the sentence, built up from sentence constituents. Compatible with the original Modularity story, it thus takes the output of sentence perception to be a “shallow” representation—though a semantic one. The empirical data discussed bear on alleged cases of sentence indeterminacy and how such cases might be assigned (shallow) semantic representations, interact with context in highly regulated ways, and whether and how they can be enriched. The chapter proposes a semantic level of representation that serves as output of the module and as input to other systems of interpretation, arguing for a form of modularity or encapsulation that is minimally context-sensitive provided that the information from context is itself determined by linguistic principles.

Keywords:   modularity, propositions, semantic representation, indeterminacy, context-sensitivity, sentence comprehension

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