Formalization plays an important role in semantics. Doing semantics and following the literature requires considerable technical sophistica- tion and acquaintance with quite advanced mathematical techniques and structures. But semantics isn't mathematics. These techniques and structures are tools that help us build semantic theories. Our real aim is to understand semantic phenomena and we need the technique to make our understanding of these phenomena precise. The problems in semantics are most often too hard and slippery, to completely trust our informal understanding of them. This should not be taken as an attack on informal reasoning in semantics. On the contrary, in my view, very often the essential insight in a diagnosis of what is going on in a certain semantic phenomenon takes place at the informal level. It is very easy, however, to be misled into thinking that a certain informal insight provides a satisfying analysis of a certain problem; it will often turn out that there is a fundamental unclarity about what the informal insight actually is. Formalization helps to sharpen those insights and put them to the test.
Structures for Semantics
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