Simplifying the Mapping from Referring Expression to Referent in a Conceptual Semantics of Reference


In Jackendoff’s Conceptual Semantics, reference to objects, situations, places, directions, times, manners, and measures is supported, but reference is limited to instances of these conceptual categories. This paper proposes an extension of Jackendoff’s referential types along an orthogonal dimension of reference which is cognitively motivated in suggesting the possibility of referring to types, prototypes and exemplars in addition to instances, as well as classes and collections of all referential types and vacuous instances and collections. The paper also introduces a bi-partite distinction between a situation model and the mental universe which helps to explain apparent non-referential uses of referring expressions. The primary motivation for expanding the ontology of referential types and distinguishing the situation model from the mental universe is to simplify the mapping from linguistic expressions to corresponding representations of referential meaning. The viability of this approach hinges on adoption of the mentalist semantics of Jackendoff. There is no direct reference to actual objects in the external world.

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