, Volume 100, Issue 4, pp 815-853
Date: 17 Aug 2012

A Constructive Type-Theoretical Formalism for the Interpretation of Subatomically Sensitive Natural Language Constructions

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Abstract

The analysis of atomic sentences and their subatomic components poses a special problem for proof-theoretic approaches to natural language semantics, as it is far from clear how their semantics could be explained by means of proofs rather than denotations. The paper develops a proof-theoretic semantics for a fragment of English within a type-theoretical formalism that combines subatomic systems for natural deduction [20] with constructive (or Martin-Löf) type theory [8, 9] by stating rules for the formation, introduction, elimination and equality of atomic propositions understood as types (or sets) of subatomic proof-objects. The formalism is extended with dependent types to admit an interpretation of non-atomic sentences. The paper concludes with applications to natural language including internally nested proper names, anaphoric pronouns, simple identity sentences, and intensional transitive verbs.