Event Detail

Fri Apr 24, 2015
234 Moses Hall, 4–6 PM
Meaning Sciences Club
Zoltan Szabo (Yale)
Semantic Explanations

Abstract: This paper is a defense of substantive explanations in semantics. I begin by offering a diagnosis of why the view that semantic theories are merely descriptive has been so widely accepted and I suggest that these grounds are not compelling. Then I argue that semantic explanations don’t have a uniform direction – upwards or downwards the syntactic tree. There is an explanatory division within the lexicon: the meanings of content words (nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs) are semantically fundamental, while the meanings of function words (auxiliaries, connectives, copulas, derivational morphemes, determiners, expletives, prepositions, etc.) are derivative.