A New Semantic Theory of Natural Language

Research paper by Kun Xing

Indexed on: 10 Sep '17Published on: 10 Sep '17Published in: arXiv - Computer Science - Computation and Language


Formal Semantics and Distributional Semantics are two important semantic frameworks in Natural Language Processing (NLP). Cognitive Semantics belongs to the movement of Cognitive Linguistics, which is based on contemporary cognitive science. Each framework could deal with some meaning phenomena, but none of them fulfills all requirements proposed by applications. A unified semantic theory characterizing all important language phenomena has both theoretical and practical significance; however, although many attempts have been made in recent years, no existing theory has achieved this goal yet. This article introduces a new semantic theory that has the potential to characterize most of the important meaning phenomena of natural language and to fulfill most of the necessary requirements for philosophical analysis and for NLP applications. The theory is based on a unified representation of information, and constructs a kind of mathematical model called cognitive model to interpret natural language expressions in a compositional manner. It accepts the empirical assumption of Cognitive Semantics, and overcomes most shortcomings of Formal Semantics and of Distributional Semantics. The theory, however, is not a simple combination of existing theories, but an extensive generalization of classic logic and Formal Semantics. It inherits nearly all advantages of Formal Semantics, and also provides descriptive contents for objects and events as fine-gram as possible, descriptive contents which represent the results of human cognition.