Semantic Structures
Ray Jackendoff, 1990

Following Chomsky's last sentences of
Syntactic Structures , Jackendoff confronts two basic problems of semantics, the Problem of Meaning and the Problem of Correspondence. The Problem of Meaning is to characterize the phenomena that a theory of meaning is to account for, and to develop a formal treatment of semantic intuitions. The Problem of Correspondence is to characterize the relationship between the formal treatment of meaning and the formal structure of syntax.

The book is in three parts, beginning with a review of Jackendoff's earlier books, Semantics and Cognition and &"CCMsum"Consciousness and the Computational Mind";. The second part deals with the Problem of Meaning, expanding on the range of linguistic issues covered in the earlier books, while the third part deals with the Problem of Correspondence, dealing in particular with a wide range of English adjunct constructions.

Part I. Basic Machinery

Chapter 1. Overview of Conceptual Semantics

1.1 E-Concepts and I-Concepts

We differentiate between external E-concepts and internal I-concepts. E-concepts are widely believed to be "out there" in the world, while I-concepts reside within the brain. The book will deal primarily with I-concepts.

1.2 First Principles of I-Conceptual Knowledge

The set of sentences a speaker of a language can use is infinite. A parallel argument must obtain for I-concepts. A sentence encodes a thought. If there are infinite number of possible sentences, &"SSopi#infinite"then there must be infinite number of thoughts";.

In order to acquire sentential and lexical concepts, a child must have a set of concept construction rules paralleling the rules of syntax known as the Universal Grammar. The central issue, then, is to discover all we can about this innate set of cencept formation rules.

1.3 Three Models for the Description of Meaning

Jackendoff compares his Conceptual Semantics with three other theories of semantics. truth-conditional semantics, which includes model-theoretic semantics and Situation Semantics, adopt an approach to meaning based on Frege's (1892) "On Sense and Reference" in which all meaning must be tied to real-world references. These theories distance their external treatment of semantics from their mainstream (Chomskian) internal-oriented views of syntax.

Fodor's Language of Thought Hypothesis seems, in many ways, to be parallel to Conceptual Semantics. However, Fodor later (1987) insists that concepts must ultimately be tied to external realities.

Third, the present approach contrasts with Cognitive Grammar or Cognitive Semantics, as described by Langacker, Lakoff, Talmy an others. Jackendoff seems to claim that this school (1) abandons the idea of a level of autonomous syntax, (2) is not committed to rigorous formalism, (3) does not take account of results in perceptual psychology, and (4) is not committed to issues of learnability, including a strong innate basis for concept acquisition.

1.4 Organization of the Grammar

1.5 Intuitions about Lexical Relations

1.6 X-Bar Semantics

1.7 Where Traditional Features Fail

1.8 Appendix: Lexical Composition versus Meaning Postulates

Chapter 2. Argument Structure and Thematic Roles

2.1 Basic Function-Argument Structures

2.2 The Status of Thematic Roles

2.3 Argument Fusion and Selectional Restrictions

2.4 Restrictive Modification

Chapter 3. Multiple Thematic Roles for a Single NP

3.1 The Status of the Theta-Criterion

3.2 Argument Binding

3.3 On So-Called Syntactic Binding

3.4 Appendix: Thematic Conditions on Control

Chapter 4. Unifying Lexical Entries

4.1 Optional Outer Functions

4.2 Multiple Argument Structures

4.3 Remarks

Part II. Mostly On the Problem of Meaning

Chapter 5. Some Further Conceptual Functions

5.1 Introduction to Part II

5.2 Verbs of Manner of Motion and Configuration

5.3 Inchoative

5.4 Kinds of Conceptual Clause Modification

Chapter 6. Some Feature Elaborations of Spatial Functions

6.1 Distributive Location

6.2 Verbs of Touching

6.3 Verbs of Attachment

6.4 Verbs of Material COmposition

6.5 Conclusion(s)

Chapter 7. The Action Tier and the Analysis of Causation

7.1 The Roles Actor and Patient: The Action Tier

7.2 Varieties of Causation

7.3 Varieties of Dydactic Interaction: The Role Beneficiary

7.4 Temporal Relations between the Cause and the Effect

7.5 Extensions of Force-Dynamics to Logical Verbs and Psych-Verbs

7.6 The Role Instrument: Unifying the Uses of Hit

7.7 Argument Binding in Force-Dynamic Verbs

7.8 Appendix: Lexical versus Periphrastic Causatives

Part III. Mostly On the Problem of Correspondence

Chapter 8. Adjuncts That Express an Incorporated Argument

8.1 Introduction to Part III

8.2 Fill and Cover

8.3 Butter, Powder, Water, Ice, and Frost

8.4 Empty, Uncover, and Skin

8.5 Bottle, Pocket, and Package

8.6 Load, Spray, Pack, Stuff, Clear, and Drain

8.7 Obligatory Adjuncts: Rid, Provide, Present, Deprive, Swarm, and Teem

8.8 The Passive By-Phrase

Chapter 9. Adjuncts That Express an Argument of a Modifying Conceptual Clause

9.1 Three Kinds of For-Adjuncts

9.2 The Conceptual Structure of the For's of Beneficiary and Benefit: The Instrumental

9.3 Buy, Pay, and Sell

9.4 The For-Exchange Adjunct Rule

9.5 "For-Dative" and "To-Dative" Adjuncts

9.6 Depictive Predication

9.7 Appendix: Control in Gerundive Secondary Predicates

Chapter 10. Adjuncts That Express an Argument of a Superordinate Conceptual Clause

10.1 Babe Ruth Homered His Way Into the Hearts of America

10.2 Alternative Approaches to the Way-Construction

10.3 Willy Jumped Into Harriet's Arms

10.4 Charlie Laughed Himself Silly

10.5 An ALternative Treatment of Resultatives

10.6 Final Remarks on Adjuncts

Chapter 11. Toward a Theory of Linking

11.1 The Notion of Linking Rules

11.2 What Conceptual Semantics Can Do for Linking Theory

11.3 What Linking Theory Can Do for Conceptual Semantics

11.4 Digression: What is Left of Subcategorization?

11.5 Refining the Thematic Hierarchy

11.6 Factoring Argument Fusion

11.7 Linking Non-NP Arguments

11.8 The Subject and the External Argument

11.9 Incorporating Most of the Adjunct Rules

11.10 Depictive Predication Again

11.11 Summary

11.12 Appendix: Restatement of the Rest of the Adjunct Rules

Epilogue - Compositionality, Autonomy, Modularity

Top of Page | SS Opinion | Sort by Topic | Sort by Title | Sort by Author