Lambda Grammars and the Syntax-Semantics Interface

In Robert Van Rooij & Martin Stokhof (eds.), Proceedings of the Thirteenth Amsterdam Colloquium. Amsterdam: ILLC. pp. 150-155 (2001)
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In this paper we discuss a new perspective on the syntax-semantics interface. Semantics, in this new set-up, is not ‘read off’ from Logical Forms as in mainstream approaches to generative grammar. Nor is it assigned to syntactic proofs using a Curry-Howard correspondence as in versions of the Lambek Calculus, or read off from f-structures using Linear Logic as in Lexical-Functional Grammar (LFG, Kaplan & Bresnan [9]). All such approaches are based on the idea that syntactic objects (trees, proofs, fstructures) are somehow prior and that semantics must be parasitic on those syntactic objects. We challenge this idea and develop a grammar in which syntax and semantics are treated in a strictly parallel fashion. The grammar will have many ideas in common with the (converging) frameworks of categorial grammar and LFG, but its treatment of the syntax-semantics interface is radically different. Also, although the meaning component of the grammar is a version of Montague semantics and although there are obvious affinities between Montague’s conception of grammar and the work presented here, the grammar is not compositional, in the sense that composition of meaning need not follow surface structure.

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Reinhard Muskens
University of Amsterdam


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