Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 35, Issue 6, pp 491–513 | Cite as

Formal semantics in modern type theories with coercive subtyping

  • Zhaohui LuoEmail author
Research Article


In the formal semantics based on modern type theories, common nouns are interpreted as types, rather than as predicates of entities as in Montague’s semantics. This brings about important advantages in linguistic interpretations but also leads to a limitation of expressive power because there are fewer operations on types as compared with those on predicates. The theory of coercive subtyping adequately extends the modern type theories and, as shown in this paper, plays a very useful role in making type theories more expressive for formal semantics. It not only gives a satisfactory solution to the basic problem of ‘multiple categorisation’ caused by interpreting common nouns as types, but provides a powerful formal framework to model interesting linguistic phenomena such as copredication, whose formal treatment has been found difficult in a Montagovian setting. In particular, we show how to formally introduce dot-types in a type theory with coercive subtyping and study some type-theoretic constructs that provide useful representational tools for reference transfers and multiple word meanings in formal lexical semantics.


Formal semantics Type theory Coercive subtyping Lexical semantics 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer ScienceRoyal Holloway, University of LondonEghamUK

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