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Title: Philosophical investigations into formalization and compositionality of language : a Montagovian analysis of Arabic quantification as a case study
Author: Soliman, Haytham El-Sayed El-Sayed Ibrahim
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2011
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Abstract:
In the field of formal semantics, it has become increasingly difficult to ignore that Montague grammar does well enough in formally interpreting certain features of natural languages. However, the question of 'adequacy' of this grammatical approach to the formal semantic paradigm is still one of the most significant current discussions in philosophy of language and linguistics alike. Within the formal semantic paradigm, the test of adequacy for Montague grammar (with respect to Arabic) is to demonstrate syntactic compositionality at a level which guarantees semantic compositionality via a formal interpretation. The main aim of my thesis has been to examine the adequacy of Montague grammar to discharge the requirements of the formal semantic paradigm. The central focus of the thesis has been an attempt to apply Montague grammar to Arabic quantification as a case study. The method adopted for this investigation is to use a 'fragment' of Arabic quantification. In my fragment, random expressions of Arabic quantification have been selected from Arabic textbooks. One of the more significant findings is that Montague grammar 'succeeds' in providing a compositional interpretation of a fragment of Arabic quantification. On this basis, I argue that Montague grammar is adequate to the local requirements of formal semantic paradigm. I argue that, since Montague grammar is shown to be applicable to another significant kind of case (i.e., Arabic, as an example from another language group), this increases the evidence for the hypothesis that Montague grammar is universally applicable. I argue that, because we have increased evidence for the claim that there is a universal compositional grammar, we have increased evidence for the hypothesis that all natural languages are compositional, and share a common compositional core. The most interesting non-philosophical implication of the study is that the extended Montagovian approach strengthens its position among the varieties of semantic theory for having proved applicable in another language group. I conclude by arguing that the applicability of Montague grammar merits consideration in new cases.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.577495  DOI: Not available
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