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The Science of MeaningEssays on the Metatheory of Natural Language Semantics$
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Derek Ball and Brian Rabern

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198739548

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198739548.001.0001

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Semantic Typology and Composition

Semantic Typology and Composition

(p.306) 11 Semantic Typology and Composition
The Science of Meaning

Paul M. Pietroski

Oxford University Press

How many types of expression meaning are there, and are some types more basic than others? According to a familiar tripartite proposal, languages like English generate (i) denoters of a basic type <e>; (ii) truth-evaluable sentences of a basic type <t>; and (iii) expressions of nonbasic types that are characterized recursively: if <A> and <B> are types, so is <A,B>; where expressions of type <A,B> signify functions, from things of the sort signified with expressions of type <A> to things of the sort signified with expressions of type <B>. On this view, human languages are importantly like the language that Frege invented to study the foundations of arithmetic. In this chapter it is argued that each third of the tripartite proposal is wrong. An alternative is then sketched according to which there are exactly two semantic types, corresponding to monadic and dyadic concepts.

Keywords:   semantics, typology, composition, abstraction, overgeneration, Frege

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