recent work, much of it collaborative, I have been trying to figure out
what linguistic meanings are--and how human semantic competence is
related to other aspects of human cognition--by approaching the central
issues from several angles. These slides provide a high-level overview.
The articles below constitute a different kind of sampler, with a paper for each of
six overlapping topics.
I'd like to think that there is an underyling unity
to this work. Indeed, I am currentlly completing final revisions of a book manuscript, Conjoining Meanings: Semantics without Truth Values, for publication with OUP. I received very helpful comments on the penultimate draft, which I will leave here, until I send the final manuscript to the press this summer. But because
of the helpful comments, the final version will be different,
especially with regard to the first two chapters. So please don't quote
from any unpublished version of the book.
Poverty of Stimulus Arguments: Poverty of the Stimulus Revisited (Cognitive Science 35:7, 2011), co-authored with Robert Berwick, Beracah Yankama, and Noam Chomsky
The Nature of Semantic Competence: Meaning Before Truth (Contextualism
in Philosophy, edited by G. Preyer and G. Peters, OUP 2005).
The Role of Lexicalization in Human Cognition: Concepts, Meanings, and Truth: First Nature, Second Nature, and Hard Work (Mind and Language 25:247-278, 2010)
Details of Semantic Composition: Minimal Semantic Instructions (Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Minimalism, edited by C. Boeckx, OUP
Logical Form and Visual Verification: Seeing What You Mean, Mostly (prepublication draft, final version appeared in Syntax and Semantics), co-authored with Jeff Lidz, Tim Hunter, Darko Odic, and Justin Halberda
Basic Linguistic Operations: Basic Operations, coauthored with Norbert Hornstein (Catalan Journal of Linguistics 8: 113-39, 2009).
Here are some other links to...
Although our cognitive systems surely reflect our
experience in some
manner, a careful specification of the properties of these systems on
one hand, and of the experience that somehow led to their formation on
the other, shows that the two are separated by a considerable gap, in
a chasm....The problem, then, is to determine the innate endowment that
serves to bridge the gap between experience and knowledge
study of language is particularly interesting in this regard.
In order to understand a sentence, it is necessary to have knowledge
both of the constituents and of the particular instance of the form. It
is in this way that a sentence conveys information, since it tells us
certain known objects are related according to a certain known form. Thus
some kind of knowledge of logical forms, though with most people it is
not explicit, is involved in all understanding of discourse. It is the
business of philosophical logic to extract this knowledge from its
integuments, and to render it explicit and pure.
(Bertrand Russell, Our
Knowledge of the External World)