A Language of Thought Based Theory of English Grammar
Neil DeMarco
August 2022

This paper on the foundations of linguistics presents a theory of English syntax as a mapping between sentences and their semantic interpretation. In particular, and the main claim of this paper, English sentences map one to one with particular formula and structures of a language of thought, built up from more basic ones through syntactic and expressive expansion. The theory gives a specification of verb, preposition, and determiner ontology, addresses noun ontology, and defines the distinction between individual names, mass nouns, and count nouns. From these atomic cases, the structural basis of adjectival phrases and the semantic interpretation of the verb forms, word order of the verb and its arguments, the composition of verbs and prepositions, and the dative construction can all be given. All of this is possible based on the semantic theory the grammar is mapped to. The ontology is defined within a space-time structure which is paired with sets, (some of) whose elements are formula of the predicate calculus. By this means, we can give a formal definition of states, in a way that distinguishes them from rules, capacities, and other cases. Our intuitive notion of change is a syntactic property of the predicate calculus, and thus we can represent both static and dynamic states. In addition, a mechanical conception of knowledge allows us to integrate the dynamics of knowledge transfer underlying many speech acts. From these observations, a framework is laid out for the semantic interpretation of a large subset of English sentences.
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Reference: lingbuzz/006749
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: polysemy, movement, word order, foundations, wh- words, tense, dative, dynamics, composition, reference, determiners, semantics, syntax
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