An update on Finite-state methods for subatomic semantics

Predication via Finite-State Methods

ESSLLI 2017, Toulouse (Week 1, 5-6:30 pm)

Tim Fernando


Commonly reduced to membership in a set (extension), predication can be analyzed in terms of labelled transitions between states, modelling cognitive processes constitutive of linguistic meaning. Requiring the set of transitions to be finite leads to a finite-state approach to predication, which we can refine by letting the set vary over larger and larger finite sets. Variations in these finite sets supports open-endedness in individual-level, stage-level and kind-level predication alike. One form of open-endedness is variable adicity, the raison d'être of events in Davidson 1967. A second form of open-endedness arises from the choice of temporal propositions, changes in which determine a notion of time. We analyze open-endedness uniformly through model-theoretic notions of satisfaction formulated within institutions in the sense of Goguen and Burstall 1992. Models take the form of strings, as in the Büchi-Elgot-Trakhtenbrot theorem equating Monadic Second-Order Logic with regular languages, or of finite frames, understood as finite automata.

The plan is to update an earlier course given at ESSLLI two years ago, material from which will be incorporated below as the week progresses (during which the slides and descriptions will change).

Lecture 1. Extension/instance/node vs Intension/string/attribute (slides, 2 per page)

Prior and temporal sequences for natural language, Synthese (2016) 193(11):3625--3637

Lecture 2. MSO/strings, reducts & compression (slides, 2 per page)

On regular languages over power sets, Journal of Language Modelling (2016) 4(1):29--56

Lecture 3. A finite-state perspective on tense & aspect (slides, 2 per page)

The semantics of tense and aspect: a finite-state perspective, in S. Lappin & C. Fox (eds.), The Handbook of Contemporary Semantic Theory, Second Edition, pp 203--236, 2015

Lectures 4-5. Finite-state truthmaking (slides, 2 per page)

Intensions, types and finite-state truthmaking, in S. Chatzikyriakidis & Z. Luo (eds.), Modern Perspectives in Type-Theoretical Semantics, pp 223--243, 2017

Last modified: 20 July 2017