A Semantics for the English Existential Construction

Routledge (1997)
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Abstract

First published in 1997, this book addresses the question: What is the interpretation of English there-existential construction? One of the principal goals is to develop an interpretation for the construction that will specifically address other properties of the postcopular DP. After outlining the problem, the author goes on to present a syntactic motivation for the claim that the postcopular DP is the sole complement to the existential predicate, as well as for the claim that the optional final phrase is a predictive adjunct. In chapter 3 the interpretation for the basic existential construction is developed and then compared to analyses that take the postcopular DP to denote an ordinary individual or a generalised quantifier of individuals. This analysis is then augmented to account for the contribution of the final XP and shows how the predicate restriction can be derived from a more general condition on depictive/circumstantial VP-adjuncts. The final chapter contain some speculative discussion of the broader implications of the proposal in the context of data such as "list" existential and "presentational-there" sentences.

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Louise McNally
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

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