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Semantic categories underlying the meaning of ‘place’

By B. Bennett and P. Agarwal


This paper analyses the semantics of natural language expressions that are associated with the intuitive notion of ‘place’. We note that the nature of such terms is highly contested, and suggest that this arises from two main considerations: 1) there are a number of logically\ud distinct categories of place expression, which are not always clearly distinguished in discourse about ‘place’; 2) the many non-substantive place count nouns (such as ‘place’, ‘region’, ‘area’, etc.) employed in natural\ud language are highly ambiguous. With respect to consideration 1), we propose that place-related expressions\ud should be classified into the following distinct logical types: a) ‘place-like’ count nouns (further subdivided into abstract, spatial and substantive varieties), b) proper names of ‘place-like’ objects, c) locative property phrases, and d) definite descriptions of ‘place-like’ objects. We outline possible formal representations for each of these. To address consideration 2), we examine meanings, connotations and ambiguities of the English vocabulary of abstract and generic place count nouns, and identify underlying elements of meaning, which explain both\ud similarities and differences in the sense and usage of the various terms

Publisher: Springer
Year: 2007
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