Logic and the comprehension of language

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2009
Keywords: 
Semantics
Pragmatics
Discourse
Abstract: 

This thesis examines what is necessary to formally model a hearer's comprehension of a natural language sentence. Our theory of comprehension should at least explain how different words within the same grammatical class make different contributions to the meaning of a sentence. And, our theory should explain how the ``full propositional form'' that a speaker communicates is recovered from the relatively semantically underspecified acoustic signal. A model is provided which achieves this. A speaker is said to understand an utterance by, first, choosing the maximally ``relevant'' full propositional semantic enrichment of the underspecified acoustic signal, measured according to a formally defined comparison operator, and, then, computing the inferences that follow from that chosen propositional form in conjunction with their individual word-/world-knowledge. This model of comprehension apparently makes comprehension relative to an individual's idiosyncratic knowledge. So, I also discuss how conventionalized word-meanings co-ordinate individuals' knowledges to allow successful interpersonal communication.

Language: 
English
Document type: 
Thesis
Rights: 
Copyright remains with the author. The author granted permission for the file to be printed and for the text to be copied and pasted.
Supervisor(s): 
F
Department: 
Dept. of Linguistics - Simon Fraser University
Thesis type: 
Thesis (M.A.)
Statistics: