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Semantics with Assignment Variables

Semantics with Assignment Variables

By: Alex Silk

This pioneering study combines insights from philosophy and linguistics to develop a novel framework for theorizing about linguistic meaning and the role of context in interpretation. A key innovation is to introduce explicit representations of context – assignment variables – in the syntax and semantics of natural language. The proposed theory systematizes a spectrum of ‘shifting’ phenomena in which the context relevant for interpreting certain expressions depends on features of the linguistic environment. Central applications include local and non-local contextual dependencies with quantifiers, attitude ascriptions, conditionals, questions, and relativization. The result is an innovative philosophically informed compositional semantics compatible with the truth-conditional paradigm. At the forefront of contemporary interdisciplinary research into meaning and communication, Semantics with Assignment Variables is essential reading for researchers and students in a diverse range of fields.


  • Examines the relevance of context-sensitive language to various areas of philosophy and linguistics
  • Integrates insights and methodologies from philosophy of language, theoretical syntax and semantics, and linguistic typology
  • Systematically applies the proposed theory using numerous examples throughout