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The Interpretation of Classically Quantified Sentences: A set-theoretic approach

By Guy Politzer, Jean-Baptiste Van Der Henst, Claire Delle Luche and Ira Noveck

Abstract

We present a set-theoretic model of the mental representation of classically quantified sentences (All P are Q, Some P are Q, Some P are not Q, and No P are Q). We take inclusion, exclusion, and their negations to be primitive concepts. It is shown that, although these sentences are known to have a diagrammatic expression (in the form of the Gergonne circles) which constitute a semantic representation, these concepts can also be expressed syntactically in the form of algebraic formulas. It is hypothesized that the quantified sentences have an abstract underlying representation common to the formulas and their associated sets of diagrams (models). Nine predictions are derived (three semantic, two pragmatic, and four mixed) regarding people's assessment of how well each of the five diagrams expresses the meaning of each of the quantified sentences. The results from three experiments, using Gergonne's circles or an adaptation of Leibniz lines as external representations, are reported and shown to support the predictions

Topics: Language understanding Representation Semantics Pragmatics, [ SHS.LANGUE.PRAGMATICS ] Humanities and Social Sciences/Linguistics/domain_shs.langue.pragmatics, [ SHS.LANGUE.SEMANTICS ] Humanities and Social Sciences/Linguistics/domain_shs.langue.semantics, [ SCCO.COGPSY ] Cognitive science/domain_scco.cogpsy, [ SCCO.REASONNING ] Cognitive science/domain_scco.reasonning
Publisher: Wiley
Year: 2006
OAI identifier: oai:HAL:ijn_00130614v1

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