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Associative Semantics & Meta-Informative Centering Theory (ASMIC)

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The Associative Semantics (AS) theory and the Meta-Informative Centering (MIC) theory modify and - in a consistent way - unify two sorts of theories which became generally accepted in linguistics, i. e. the theories of Predicate Argument Structure (models of semantic relations as expressed by natural languages, but with some confusion concerning the proper differentiation of semantic and syntactic domains) and the theories of Information Structure (in fact, concerning the presentation of informative contents as conveyed by linguistic utterances but leaving aside an important part of meta-informative devices of natural languages which are usually treated as belonging to the more or less formal syntax).

The ASMIC theories are ontology-based language-dependent approaches. Hence, they can be used to identify similar informative and meta-informative contents which are conveyed by expressions of different languages in various morpho-syntactic and prosodic forms.

References : Prague School tradition (Mathesius, 1975). Lambrecht, Knud. 1994. Information Structure and Sentence Form: Topic, Focus and the Mental Representation of Discourse Referents, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Essentials of Associative Semantics (AS) Theory

The semantic situation is defined as a schema and its individuation which contain three parts: relation(s), role(s) and anchor(s). The individuation of a relation is named Frame, that of role - participant and that of anchor - support. NB: the frames of semantic situations are closed with respect to inclusion and can be ordered (state < event < ordinary process < granular process).

Various abstract ontological levels are distinguished. Concepts as agentive, objective, experiencer, etc., on the highest (meta-ontological) level are obsolete, instead generalized agents are introduced. Such agents are defined by the following ontological features among others: (1) features of control (autonomy): goal and feedback; (2) features of emotion (character): desire and intention, (3) epistemic features (reason): belief and cognition, (4) communication features (language faculty): verbal and visual.

In this theory, roles and anchors are seen as isomorphic abstract tuples of concepts. Roles are defined ontologically as neutre, active and passive unary relations of associated semantic situations. The associative combination of their realizations gives rise to median (instrumental, means etc.) roles through derivation. Here are examples of agent meta-roles: (1) active role (Initiator, Causer, Enabler, Benefactor, Executor, Stimulant, Source, Instigator etc.), (2) passive role (Terminator, Causee, Affect, Enabled, Beneficiary, Executed, Experiencer, Goal, etc.) and (3) median role (Mediator, Instrument, Benefice, Motor, Mean etc.).

Importantly, the same participant (role filler) may play more than one role in the given semantic situation defined as a bunch of associated situations. Note also that in the process of meaning construction the three following levels are distinguished: shallow, standard and deep. There is an important feature of situation participants which characterizes the shallow level: in active roles, the inanimate entities (figures as opposed to agents) are semantically interpreted as if they were animate. Such figures are said to play quasi-active roles (Q-roles).

Essentials of Meta-Informative Centering (MIC) Theory

Meta-information (Greniewski, H.; 1965 Bojar, B. 1991) concerns the way information is presented: to achieve the ordering of non-linear representations in the form of texts (sequences of linguistic utterances), the speaker must select a centre of attention (CA) and “predicate” about it. Hence, in our centering theory, the term “predicate” is reserved for the meta-informative level and is used in its initial Aristotelian sense.

The main concept introduced here as a terminological device, namely, as argument of a logical predicate, is the Centre of Attention (CA) which refers to meta-information as conveyed by utterances. Global and Local CAs are distinguished in the three following ways:

(a) Subject and Object (in basic utterances), (b) Topic and Focus (in extended utterances) and (c) General Themes and Particular Themes (in discourse sessions, dialogues or texts). See MIC-theoretical definitions: [1]

Note that meta-information is more appropriate than information to describe the basic and extended predicate structures of utterances.

See also Cohesion_(linguistics)

References :

BARWISE, Jon & PERRY, John(1983) Situations and Attitudes, Cambridge, MA: Bradford Books/MIT Press. (Reprinted with a new introduction by CSLI Publications, 1999.)[2]

BOJAR Bożenna (1991) "Metainformacja w języku naturalnym" (Meta-information in natural languages), in Words are Physicians for an Ailing Mins, ed. by Grochowski, M. and Weiss, D., Sagners Slavistische Sammlung, Vol 17, Verlag Otto SAGNER, München, p. 93-99

GRENIEWSKI Henryk (1968) Jezyk nauki (The Language of Science), in Zagadnienia Naukoznawstwa, (Problems of Epistemology), quarterly, vol. IV, tome 1(13), Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw

GROSZ, Barbara J.; WEINSTEIN Scott and JOSHI, Aravind K. June 1995. "Centering: A Framework for Modeling the Local Coherence of Discourse." In Computational Linguistics 2(21), pp. 203-225 [3]

McCARTHY John (1963): “Situations, Actions and Causal Laws” Stanford Artificial Intelligence Project: Memo 2. (First appearance of situation calculus).

McCARTHY John (2002) "Actions and Other Events in Situation Calculus", KR 2002: 615-628

WLODARCZYK André & Hélène (2008), “Roles, Anchors and Other Things we Talk About : Associative Semantics and Meta-Informative Centering Theory”, ed. Istvan Kecskes, Series: Mouton Series in Pragmatics, Intercultural Pragmatics, Vol. 5. No. 3., Berlin/New York. Mouton - De Gruyters [4]

WOLNIEWICZ B., “Atoms in Semantic Frames”, Logica Trianguli, 2000, vol. 4, pp. 69-86.

WOLNIEWICZ B., “Extending Atomistic Frames”, Logica Trianguli, 2001, vol. 5, pp. 89-106.

WOLNIEWICZ Boguslaw on the Formal Ontology of Situations [5]

Other publications on ASMIC:[6] Centre for Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (CELTA Paris-Sorbonne)



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