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Ontology and Formal Semantics - Integration Overdue

By Walid Saba


In this note we suggest that difficulties encountered in natural language semantics are, for the most part, due to the use of mere symbol manipulation systems that are devoid of any content. In such systems, where there is hardly any link with our common-sense view of the world, and it is quite difficult to envision how one can formally account for the considerable amount of content that is often implicit, but almost never explicitly stated in our everyday discourse. \ud The solution, in our opinion, is a compositional semantics grounded in an ontology that reflects our commonsense view of the world and the way we talk about it in ordinary language. In the compositional logic we envision there are ontological (or first-intension) concepts, and logical (or second-intension) concepts, and where the ontological concepts include not only Davidsonian events, but other abstract objects as well (e.g., states, processes, properties, activities, attributes, etc.) \ud It will be demonstrated here that in such a framework, a number of challenges in the semantics of natural language (e.g., metonymy, intensionality, metaphor, etc.) can be properly and uniformly addressed.\u

Topics: Computational Linguistics, Semantics, Artificial Intelligence
Year: 2007
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