Semantic Structures is a large-scale study of conceptual structure and its lexical and syntactic expression in English that builds on the system of Conceptual Semantics described in Ray Jackendoff's earlier books Semantics and Cognition and Consciousness and the Computational Mind.
Jackendoff summarizes the relevant arguments in his two previous books, setting out the basic parameters for the formalization of meaning, and comparing his mentalistic approach with Fodor's Language of Thought hypothesis. He then takes up the Problem of Meaning, extending the range of semantic fields encompassed by the Conceptual Semantics formalism, and the Problem of Correspondence, formalizing the relation between semantic and syntactic structure. Both of these problems must be fully addressed in order to develop a general theory of language that is concerned with syntax and semantics and their points of connection.
Few books on lexical semantics present such a comprehensive analysis of such a wide range of phenomena from a unified perspective. Besides discussing the conceptual structures of hundreds of words and constructions, Jackendoff extends and deepens the theory to come to grips with such crucial issues as Θ-roles and Θ-marking; arguments, modifiers, and adjuncts; binding and control; and the thematic linking hierarchy.
Ray Jackendoff is Chairman of the Program in Linguistics and Cognitive Science at Brandeis University.
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