science of meaning

the science of meaning


essays on the metatheory of

natural language semantics

edited by D. Ball and B. Rabern

2018, Oxford University Press

By creating certain marks on paper, or by making certain sounds—breathing past a moving tongue—or by articulation of hands and bodies, language users can give expression to their mental lives. With language we command, assert, query, emote, insult, and inspire. Language has meaning. This fact can be quite mystifying, yet a science of linguistic meaning—semantics—has emerged at the intersection of a variety of disciplines: philosophy, linguistics, computer science, and psychology.  The past fifty years have seen an explosion of research into the semantics of natural languages. There are now sophisticated theories of phenomena that were not even known to exist mere decades ago. Much of the early work in natural language semantics was accompanied by extensive reflection on the aims of semantic theory, and the form a theory must take to meet those aims. But this meta-theoretical reflection has not kept pace with recent theoretical innovations. The purpose of this volume is to re-address these questions concerning the foundations of natural language semantics in light of the current state-of-the-art in semantic theorising.

0. Introduction to the science of meaning

Derek Ball and Brian Rabern

1. What is — or, for that matter, isn’t — ‘experimental' semantics?

Pauline Jacobson

2. Axiomatization in the meaning sciences

Wesley H. Holliday and Thomas F. Icard, III

3. David Lewis on context

Robert Stalnaker

4. From meaning to content

François Recanati

5. Reviving the parameter revolution in semantics

Bryan Pickel, Brian Rabern, and Josh Dever

6. Changing notions of linguistic competence in the history of formal semantics

Barbara Partee

7. Lexical meaning, concepts, and the metasemantics of predicates

Michael Glanzberg

8. Interpretation and the interpreter

Kathrin Glüer

9. Expressing expectations

Inés Crespo, Hadil Karawani, and Frank Veltman

10. Fregean compositionality

Thomas Ede Zimmermann

11. Semantic typology and composition

Paul Pietroski

12. Semantics as model-based science

Seth Yalcin

13. Semantic possibility

 Wolfgang Schwarz

14. Semantics as measurement

Derek Ball


more information on the OUP website