Burghard B. Rieger:

Definition of Terms, Word Meaning, and Knowledge Structure.
On some problems of semantics from a computational view of linguistics

(Keynote Address) in: Czap, H./Galinski, C. (eds.): Terminology and Knowledge Engineering. Proceedings Intern. Congress on Terminology and Knowledge Engineering (Volume 2), Frankfurt/M. (Indeks) 1988, pp. 25-41


In Linguistics the object of research is Natural Language, the methods employed are those of formal-theoretic and/or quantitative-empirical analysis, description or modelling, and the aims or objectives that are pursued by such activities, are to understand how Natural Languages serve the function they accomplish, i.e. being understood as a means to convey meaning and knowledge in an incredibly flexible and altogether quite reliable way.
The computational view of linguistics is closely connected with possibilities which the advent of computers as not only number-crunching but symbol-processing machines has produced.
Most researchers in semantics agree on the common basis of three major problems presented by the study of natural language meaning, namely the fundamental assumption of meaning to be (or be reconstructable as) some relational structure. This assumption, however, may differently be addressed:
firstly, as the denotational aspect of how the signs, words, and sentences of a language are related to the entities (objects and/or processes) they refer to in the external world, constituting referential meaning as a system of extra-lingual relations;
secondly, what is known as the connotational aspect of how signs, words, and sentences of a language are related to one another, constituting structural meaning as a system of sub-systems of intra-lingual relations, and
thirdly, what is referred to as the dynamic aspect of how signs, words, and sentences of a language are related to functions which instantiate varying restrictions on possible choices of (referential and/or structural) meaning representations, constituting procedural meaning as a system of procedures that operate on and simultaneously reorganise the conceptual data of memory and/or knowledge.

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