GLOSSARY of MIC terminology

Terms with an asterisk (*) in the explanatory notes are also glossary entries

 

Aboutness

(Speak-Aboutness)

(Spoken-Aboutness)

Two kinds of aboutness: (a) the spoken-aboutness (resemblance) consists of creating *Centres of Attention (CA) and (b) the speak-aboutness (contiguity) consists of combining the created *Centres of Attention (CA) with everything which is predicated about them.

Agent

An animate entity fit to play active roles in semantic situations as expressed by utterances. In the Associative Semantics (AS) theory, it is possible for an animate entity to play more than one active role. Moreover, agents can also play non active roles (passive or median).

Anchor

Spatio-temporal component (or operation) of semantic situations. One of their three fundamental constitutive components (the two others being frames and roles).

Associative Semantics (AS)

The Associative Semantics (AS) theory is an ontology-based semantic theory of information as expressed by natural language utterances with clear-cut distinctions between (a) the universal (or at least common) ontology and (b) the semantics of natural languages. In this theory, roles and anchors are seen as elementary (unary) relations. Roles are defined ontologically as active and passive unary relations of associated semantic situations. The combination of their realizations gives rise to median roles such as “instruments” or “means” among others. The main principle of AS is that one participant may enact more than one role.

Attention-driven Phrase (ADP)

That phrase of a *Base or *Extended Utterance which can be assigned a meta-informative *Old or *New Status. In order to communicate judgments, speakers need to select some information stored in their memory (thus creating Centres of Attention (CA). While the Centre of Attention (CA) is determined functionally as a mental concept which results in the selection of a chunk of information, the Attention-driven Phrase (ADP) is defined as that part of an *utterance (linguistic expression) which bears the selected information with an explicit meta-informative pointer to it. The segment of an expression is considered to be centered (corresponding to a Centre of Attention) if it represents an entity, anchor or situation which has been selected (see *Selection) among other entities, anchors or situations. An ADP often contains (syntactic, morphological, prosodic) meta-informative markers. If an utterance expresses more than one Centre of Attention (CA), one of them is global (main) and the other one is local (secondary).

Example: The utterance “John and Mary dance” contains a sole (though collective) ADP although the semantic information contains two participants “John” and “Mary” both selected as Centres of Attention. Indeed, semantically we have two associated (joint concurrent) situations: [John dances] & [Mary dances] developing the schema with a dual existential quantifier: Exist2(x) dance(x). Note that the utterance “John dances with Mary” contains only one entity (“John”) which has been centered. See: *Global (or main) Attention-driven Phrase (G-ADP) and *Local (or secondary) Attention-driven Phrase (L-ADP).

Background

The background is the speak-about part of the *Extended Utterance the spoken-about part of which is known as the *Focus. As a rule, the *Status of the spoken-about part of an *Extended Utterance is opposite to its speak-about. In the case of the Focus-Background relationship, the speak-about has an *Old meta-informative *Status. Antonym of *Comment.

Centre of Attention (CA)

Attention-centered information is that piece of knowledge to which humans are attuned by periods of time. In neurology humans are able to pay attention to more than one concept at the same time provided that the selected *Centres of Attention concern concepts which belong to different levels (regions of memory). In linguistic predication two *Centres of Attention (CA) are expressed by two different *Attention-driven Phrases (ADP) belonging to two different levels of the constituency tree (structure of meta-information): *Subject and *Object.

Combination

Higher level operation on two selected chunks of information between which a relationship can be established.

Comment

The comment is the speak-about part of the *Extended Utterance the spoken-about part of which is known as  the *Topic. As a rule, the *Status of the spoken-about part of an *Extended Utterance is opposite to its speak-about. In the case of the Topic-Comment relationship, the speak-about has an *New meta-informative *Status. Antonym of *Background.

Default Role Mapping

The Default Role Mapping principle establishes the default relationships between *Centre of Attention (CA) and *Agent (or *Figure) as expressed by an *Utterance.

In Accusative languages, there is a default relation linking the *Subject with the *Active Role (enacted by an *Agent or *Figure) while in Ergative languages, the default role mapping links the *Subject with the Passive Role enacted by an *Agent or *Figure).

Figure

Inanimate entity. This kind of entity can enact both active and passive roles. Active roles played by *Figures are said to be *Quasi-active (*Q-Role).

Focus

The Local *Attention-driven Phrase (the spoken-about part) of an *Extended utterance, the meta-informative Status of which is *New, whilst its speak-about part (*Background) has an opposite (contrary) Status (*Old). Antonym of *Topic.

Frame

 (Situation Frame)

Representation of the space of states and actions. There are four kinds of frames: 1 static and 3 dynamic frames: states are semantic situation frames delimited by [+Space] only, events are semantic situation frames delimited by [+Space] and determined by [+Time] (N.B.: events lack a middle stage. For example: “to cough” as in “John just coughed”). Ordinary processes are semantic situation frames delimited by [+Space] and determined by [+Time] and [+Progression] and refined processes are semantic situation frames delimited by [+Space] and determined by [+Time], [+Progression] and [+Granularity].

Global Attention-driven Phrase

(Global ADP)

The main *Attention-driven phrase (ADP) of a *Base Utterance which expresses the hierarchically uppermost *Centre of Attention (CA) is defined as a Global ADP of that utterance (*Subject). The ADP of an *Extended Utterance which expresses the hierarchically uppermost *Centre of Attention (CA) is defined as a Global ADP of that utterance (*Topic). N.B.: The *Centres of Attention may coincide in the expression plane, i.e. they may correspond to the same ADP.

Information

In the MIC theory, information is defined as a (spatio-temporally) situated semantic relationship between agents and/or figures. Kernel information contains only the situation frame, its roles (participants) and anchors (spatio-temporal locations). It can be assigned a propositional value (True/False).

Level of interpretation

The three following levels of interpretation are distinguished: shallow, standard and deep. When the *Subject of a default (active, for Accusative languages, or passive, for Ergative languages) diathesis sentence does not correspond to the default (active or passive respectively) semantic role of a given situation, the shallow level of interpretation is used.

Local Attention-driven Phrase

(Local ADP)

The secondary (dependent)  *Attention-driven phrase (ADP) of a *Base Utterance which expresses the hierarchically lower *Centre of Attention (CA) is defined as a Local ADP of that utterance (*Object). The ADP of an *Extended Utterance which expresses the hierarchically lower *Centre of Attention (CA) is defined as a Local ADP of that utterance (*Focus). N.B.: The *Centres of Attention may coincide in the expression plane, i.e. they may correspond to the same ADP.

Meta-information

Information about another information (not just abstraction). The semantic content of the utterance is information itself, and the different linguistic forms that may be chosen to express information are meta-information markers. Meta-information concerns the way information is presented: in order to achieve the ordering of concepts in expressions (linguistic utterances), speakers create *Centres of Attention (CA) and *predicate about them.

Meta-informative status

In the MIC theory no declarative semantic content can be used in communication without its meta-informative status (i.e. without the pragmatic centering of information). The meta-informative *Status may take one of the two values: *Old or *New. See also *Validation.

Motivation of Status

The *Old or *New *Status of an utterance (either its whole or a part of it) is motivated either by (a) communication (anaphoric/cataphoric), (b) cognition (known/unknown) or (c) ontological knowledge (generic/specific, general/particular, potential/actual and habitual/occasional).

New

See *Meta-informative Status.

Object

That *Attention-driven Phrase (ADP) of a *Base Utterance which expresses the *Local (secondary) meta-informative *Centre of Attention (CA).

Old

See *Meta-informative status.

Participant

An entity playing a role in a situation. Semantic role filler.

Predicate

That speak-about part of a *Base Utterance which says (predicates) something about the Global *Centre of Attention as expressed by the *Subject *Attention-driven Phrase (ADP). In Elementary Logic, predicate is defined as a formula containing a relation name (literal) and one or more terms (arguments). Hence in logic, predicate is nothing but form; it has no meaning. Therefore, both run(Agent: “Peter”) and run(Subject: “Peter”) are well-formed predicate formulae. Whereas in the MIC theory, predicate is not defined formally. Instead, predicate is seen as the result of *Aboutness. It belongs to the meta-informative (pragmatic) level of speech.

Predication

Speech act aiming at pointing to the central part of information (See *Centre of Attention) communicated by a *Base Utterance in order to speak/tell something about it (see *Speak-aboutness and *Spoken-aboutness).

Q-Role

Quasi-active Role

Q-active Role

Agents typically fit dynamic situations (actions) well, whereas figures fit the static ones (states). When it is not so, shallow level (i.e. a partially specified semantic level) is introduced. 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 enact quasi-active roles (Q-active roles or Q-roles). In the cases of agentivation or figuration, for example, the Q-initiator will be said to designate the figure in an active role (which normally fits agents) and Q-source will be said to designate the agent in an active role (which normally fits figures). See also *Role.

Role

One of the three fundamental constitutive components of semantic *situations. Two elementary (active and passive) and one derived (median) roles are distinguished and defined as unary relations of associated semantic situations. N.B. Due to the definition of semantic situations as associations, one participant (role filler) may play more than one role in the given semantic situation. See also *Role and Voice.

Roles and Voice

In Accusative languages, by default, in the active voice utterances the *Subject corresponds to the *Active or *Q-Active Role while in the passive voice utterances, the *Subject corresponds to roles which are neither active nor q-active.

Selection

Lower level operation on that chunk of information which is chosen on the lower constitutive level of pattern recognition or pattern production.

Situation

Situations are defined regardless of their participants. Their three fundamental components are: (1) Frame (their instances are relations), (2) Role (their instances are Participant) and (3) Anchors (their instances are spatio-temporal locations).

Status

See: Meta-informative *Status.

Subject

Main meta-informative “spoken-about” part of a *Base Utterance, i.e. the Attention-driven phrase (ADP) pointing at the global Centre of Attention (CA). The meta-informative *Status of the subject may be either *New or *Old as is the meta-informative *Status of a whole *Base utterance.

Theme

That part (or set of subsets) of a text/discourse which expresses the global or local *Centre of Attention (Concern).

Topic

The Global *Attention-driven Phrase (the spoken-about part) of an *Extended utterance, the meta-informative Status of which is *Old while its speak-about part (*Comment) has an opposite (contrary) Status (*New). Antonym of *Focus.

Utterance

An utterance is a proposition uttered in a context and validated as bearing information with *Old or *New Status. When used in an utterance, the objective (denotative) oldness or newness of information motivates (see *Motivation) the meta-level segmentation of communicated information giving rise to the creation of pragmatic (connotative) content. Consequently, an utterance can be assigned either *Old or *New meta-informative *Status regardless of its truth-propositional semantic valuations.

Utterance

(Base Utterance)

The *Base Utterance has either a *New or an *Old meta-informative Status. It is not divided into parts (segments) with respect to the *New or *Old *Status, i.e.: the *Status of a *Base utterance cannot but be either entirely *New or entirely *Old.

Utterance

(Extended Utterance)

An utterance which is divided into two parts having contrary meta-informative *Status (either *Old Spoken-about + *New Speak-About or *New Spoken-about + *Old Speak-About). There are two kinds of such extended utterances: (a) with a Topic-Comment relationship – where one part of the utterance has an *Old meta-informative *Status (called *Topic) and the other has a *New meta-informative *Status (called *Comment) and (2) with a Focus-Background relationship - where one part of the utterance has a *New meta-informative *Status (called *Focus) and the other has an *Old meta-informative *Status (called *Background).

Validation

The content (semantic information) of an utterance can be validated as True or False, its meta-informative *Status as *Old or *New.