Paper XII: Semantics

Semantics and Pragmatics

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  • Cruse, D.A. (1986) Lexical Semantics. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Cruse, D.A. (2000) Meaning in Language: An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: OUP.
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  • Heim, I., and Kratzer, A. (1998) Semantics in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Hudson, R. (1995) Word Meaning. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Jackendoff, R. (1990) Semantic Structures. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • Jackson, H. (1988) Words and their Meaning. London: Longman.
  • Lakoff, G. (1987) Women, Fire and Dangerous Things: What Categories reveal about the Mind. Chicago: University Press.
  • Lakoff, G., and Johnson, M. (1980) Metaphors We Live By. Chicago: University Press.
  • Lappin, S. (ed.) (1996) The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Larson, R., and Segal, G. (1995) Knowledge of Meaning: an Introduction to Semantic Theory. Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press.
  • Lehrer, A. (1974) Semantic Fields and Lexical Structure. Amsterdam: North Holland.
  • Levin, B., and Pinker, S. (1992) Lexical and Conceptual Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Levinson, S. (1983) Pragmatics. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Levinson, S. (2000) Presumptive Meanings: The Theory of Generalized Conversational Implicature. Cambridge, Mass. and London: MIT Press.
  • Lyons, J. (1977) Semantics. 2 vols. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Lyons, J. (1995) Linguistic Semantics: an introduction. Cambridge: CUP. Semantics: A New Outline. Cambridge: CUP.
  • Pinker, S. (1999) Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson.
  • Saeed, J. (1997) Semantics. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Sperber, D. and Wilson, D. (1995) Relevance: communication and cognition, 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Yule, G. (1996) Pragmatics. Oxford: OUP.

Essay titles

  • What are the advantages and limitations of describing word meaning in terms of lexical decomposition?
  • Why do we need to posit a level of Logical Form?
  • Describe and motivate the ‘event’ analysis of verbs and adverbs.
  • What do you understand by the term ‘presupposition’?
  • Is there a natural distinction between semantic and pragmatic aspects of meaning?
  • How can metaphor be accounted for in linguistic theory?
  • ‘Pragmatics is primarily concerned with the difference between what a sentence means and what a hearer understands by that sentence in a conversational context.’ Discuss.
  • Do people always say what they mean?
  • What aspects of language does Speech Act Theory aim to capture?
  • Why might a compositional semantics be desirable within a theory of meaning?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of a truth-functional semantic theory?
  • Discuss the semantic behavious of scalar adjectives.
  • Describe the problems posed for Semantic Theory by sentences of the following form:
    a)Every gardener who had grown a marrow entered it into the competition.
    b)If a gardener wins a rosette, s/he displays it somewhere prominent.
  • On what basis can one draw a distinction between literal and non-literal meaning?
  • What does it mean to say that an expression is vague?
  • Describe the main features of, and motivation for, Discourse Representation Theory.
  • Compare and contrast any TWO approaches to metaphor with which you are familiar.
  • What are the broad differences between a Gricean and a Relevance Theoretic account of conversational implicatures?

Last updated 24th January 2005.