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Knowledge of Meaning: An Introduction to Semantic Theory Paperback – September 23, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0262621007 ISBN-10: 0262621002

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Editorial Reviews

Review

...no one in recent decades has written a book of this magnitude about the semantics of natural language. Certainly nothing available today matches this volume in depth, precision, and coherence.

(Zoltan Szabo The Philosophical Review)

About the Author

Richard K. Larson is Professor of Linguistics at Stony Brook University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Bradford Books
  • Paperback: 659 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book (September 23, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262621002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262621007
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,559,350 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth L. Miner on May 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
L&S's theory might be termed a "cognitivized" version of more or less standard truth-conditional semantics - more properly, a series of versions, or T-theories. The authors' strategy is first to present the basic principles; then, beginning with a model that can handle only very simple data, to add more and more structure to accommodate more and more data, and along the way, to entertain departures which are later shown to be inadequate and discarded. Thus we go through PC+ (propositional calculus plus names and predicates), PCset (in which names are singletons), PCprop (in which predicates are properties), PC+DN (in which names are descriptions), VRT (which can handle pronouns and demonstratives), PredC (which can handle quantification), GQ (replacing quantification as done in PredC with generalized quantifiers, and bringing in definite descriptions). After anaphora and tense are introduced, a final version of the theory emerges. This is a formal approach to meaning; L&S's method of imparting it makes it easier to absorb than many textbooks do. Even so, a complete truth derivation for such a sentence as "Every woman loves her car" in GQ, for example, runs to about three typed pages.
The central claim, and at the same time the central problem, with this book - aiming as it does at a cognitive theory - has to do with the concept "interpretivity." A T-theory is interpretive, according to L&S, if the connective "is true iff" yields the same pairings of object-language sentences and metalanguage sentences as the connective "means that." At first they say for example that PC+, PCset and PCprop are all interpretive; later they qualify this, because of ontological commitments.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By EllentheLinguist on January 27, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for my semantics class with Richard Larson. It's a very good overview of semantics, and has a good progression from easy concepts to much more difficult ones. I'd recommend it to anyone taking a semantics class even if it's not the required textbook because it will definitely help.
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