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Content vs. function words: the view from distributional semantics

  • Counter to the often assumed division of labour between content and function words, we argue that both types of words have lexical content in addition to their logical content. We propose that the difference between the two types of words is a difference in degree. We conducted a preliminary study of quantificational determiners with methods from Distributional Semantics, a computational approach to natural language semantics. Our findings have implications both for distributional and formal semantics. For distributional semantics, they indicate a possible avenue that can be used to tap into the meaning of function words. For formal semantics, they bring into light the context-sensitive, lexical aspects of function words that can be recovered from the data even when these aspects are not overtly marked. Such pervasive context-sensitivity has profound implications for how we think about meaning in natural language.

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Author:Márta Abrusán, Nicholas Asher, Tim van de Cruys
Parent Title (English):Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 22, Vol. 1 / eds. Uli Sauerland and Stephanie Solt. Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft: ZAS papers in linguistics ; Nr. 60
Publisher:Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft (ZAS)
Place of publication:Berlin
Document Type:Part of a Book
Date of Publication (online):2020/09/08
Year of first Publication:2020
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2020/09/11
Tag:determiners; distributional semantics; function words; lexical semantics
Page Number:21
First Page:1
Last Page:21
Dewey Decimal Classification:4 Sprache / 40 Sprache / 400 Sprache
Linguistik-Klassifikation:Linguistik-Klassifikation: Semantik / Semantics
Zeitschriften / Jahresberichte:ZAS papers in linguistics : ZASPiL / ZASPiL 60 = Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 22, Vol. 1
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0