A semantics for interrogatives is presented which is based on Karttunen's theory, but in a flexible manner incorporates both weak and strong exhaustivity. The paper starts out by considering degree questions, which often require an answer picking out the maximal degree from a certain set. However, in some cases, depending on the semantic properties of the question predicate, reference to the minimal degree is required, or neither specifying the maximum nor the minimum is sufficient. What is needed is an operation (...) which defines the maximally informative answer on the basis of the Karttunen question denotation. Shifting attention to non-degree questions, two notions of answerhood are adopted from work by Heim. The first of these is weakly exhaustive and the second strongly exhaustive. The second notion of answerhood is proven to be equivalent to Groenendijk and Stokhof's interrogative semantics. On the basis of a wide range of empirical data showing that questions often are not interpreted exhaustively, it is argued that a fairly rich system of semantic objects associated with questions is needed to account for the various ways in which questions contribute to the semantics and pragmatics of the utterances in which they appear. (shrink)
The paper provides a semantic analysis of intervention effects in wh-questions. The interpretation component of the grammar derives uninterpretability, hence ungrammaticality, of the intervention data. In the system of compositional interpretation that I suggest, wh-phrases play the same role as focused phrases, introducing alternatives into the computation. Unlike focus, wh-phrases make no ordinary semantic contribution. An intervention effect occurs whenever a focus-sensitive operator other than the question operator tries to evaluate a constituent containing a wh-phrase. It is argued that this (...) approach can capture the universal as well as the crosslinguistically variable aspects of intervention effects, in a way that is superior to previous approaches. Further consequences concern other focus-related constructions: multiple focus data, NPI licensing, and alternative questions. (shrink)
Winter (2000) argues that so-called co-distributive or cumulative readings do not involve polyadic quantification (contra proposals by Krifka, Schwarzschild, Sternefeld, and others). Instead, he proposes that all such readings involve a hidden anaphoric dependency or a lexical mechanism. We show that Winter's proposal is insufficient for a number of cases of cumulative readings, and that Krifka's and Sternefeld's polyadic **-operator is needed in addition to dependent definites. Our arguments come from new observations concerning dependent plurals and clause-boundedness effects with cumulative (...) readings. (shrink)
This paper proposes that elementary reciprocal sentences have four semantic readings: a strongly reciprocal interpretation, a weakly reciprocal interpretation, a situation-based weakly reciprocal reading, and a collective reading. Interpretational possibilities of reciprocal sentences that have been discussed in the literature are identified as one of these four. A compositional semantic analysis of all of these readings is provided in which the reciprocal expression is uniformly represented as 'the other ones among them' (recasting Heim, Lasnik and May 1991a, b). A reciprocal (...) sentence is thus a special kind of relational plural. Interpretational variability comes about by the same mechanisms of plural predication at work in relational plurals: pluralization operators, LF operations like QR, and addition of contextual information. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a restriction on certain types of LF movement, which I call ‘wh-related LF movement’. Evidence comes from a number of wh-in-situ constructions in German, such as the scope-marking construction and multiple questions. For semantic reasons, the in situ element in those constructions has to move at LF to either a position reserved for wh-phrases, or even higher up in the structure. The restriction (the Minimal Quantified Structure Constraint, MQSC) is that an intervening quantified expression (...) blocks this movement. In the case of every, the MQSC leads to an unambiguously distributive interpretation of the question. In the case of all other intervening operators, including negation, it leads to ungrammaticality. (shrink)
(1) a. Satoshi sent Thilo the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch. b. Satoshi sent the Schw¨abische W¨orterbuch to Thilo. Many have entertained the notion that there is a rule that relates sentences such as these. This is suggested by the fact that it is possible to learn that a newly coined verb licenses one of them and automatically know that it licenses the other. Marantz (1984) argues for the existence of such a rule in this way, noting that once one has learned of (...) the new verb shin by exposure to (2a), the grammaticality of (2b) is also learned. (2) a. Thilo shinned the ball to Satoshi. b. Thilo shinned Satoshi the ball. This is explained if there is a rule that ties the double object frame together with the NP+PP frame, making it sufﬁcient to know that a verb licenses one if it licenses the other. Frequently, the rule involved has been taken to be syntactic in nature. See, among many others, Fillmore (1965), Oehrle (1976), Baker (1988), and Larson (1988). The leading idea under this view is that the two frames are simply different surface manifestations of the same underlying structure. Typically, this approach posits that the NP+PP frame represents that underlying structure from which the double object frame is transformationally derived. There is evidence, however, that the two frames instead have different underlying structures, and are not related by transformation. This evidence, then. (shrink)
This paper develops a semantic analysis of data like It is getting colder and colder. Their meaning is argued to arise from a combination of a comparative with pluractionality. The analysis is embedded in a general theory of plural predication and pluractionality. It supports a semantic theory involving a family of syntactic plural operators.
The semantic literature takes degree operators like the comparative, but also measure phrases, the equative, the superlative and so on, to be quantifiers over degrees. This is well motivated by their semantic contribution, but leads one to expect far more scope interaction than is actually observed. This paper proposes an alternative-semantic analysis of certain degree constructions, in particular constructions with little and other negative antonyms. Restrictions on scope can then be explained as intervention effects.
This paper examines the effect that focus has on repetitive versus restitutive again. It is argued that a pragmatic explanation of the effect is the right strategy. The explanation builds largely on a standard focus semantics. To this we add an anaphoric analysis of again’s presupposition and a detailed analysis of the alternatives triggered when focus falls on again.
The paper develops a uniform compositional analysis of the various readings of the scalar particle still and its German counterpart noch. Noch/still is a presuppositional scalar particle that gives rise to implicatures. Interpretive possibilities arise through different choices for the scale that the particle associates with, different attachment sites in the syntax, and interaction with focus. These interpretive parameters allow for a wide range of possible sentence interpretations, which overlap, but do not coincide for still and noch. The contrastive perspective (...) allows us to examine the role of scales in the grammar. The implicatures triggered by the scalar item open an interesting perspective for the generation of implicatures in general. (shrink)
This paper explores the diachronic development of the English adverb again. A compositional semantic analysis of its grammar at various stages is provided. It is argued that this analysis must consist of a staging of first a lexical and then a structural change, in order to adequately model the sequence of individual developmental steps observed in the historical corpus data, and that it provides an insight into pathways of semantic change in general.
The topic of this paper is the semantic analysis of the sentences in (1). (1a,b) contain the adverbial modifiers 'one after the other' and 'dog after dog', respectively, which add to the simple (1') information on how the overall event of the dogs entering the room is to be divided into subevents based on a division of the group of dogs into individual dogs. We call these adverbials pluractional adverbials, following e.g. Lasersohn's (1995) use of the term pluractionality for the (...) division of larger eventualities into subeventualities. (shrink)