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Education & Language - Linguistics | Redefining Indefinites

Redefining Indefinites

Dobrovie-Sorin, Carmen, Beyssade, Claire

2012, XVI, 268 p.

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  • Includes a comprehensive and updated analysis of all the phenomena relating to indefinites
  • Presents the open research problems in this field
  • Pays particular attention to the syntax-semantics interface

This volume explores the interpretation of indefinites and the constraints on their distribution by paying particular attention to key issues in the interface between syntax and semantics: the relation between the semantic properties of indefinite determiners and the denotation of indefinite DPs, their scope, and their behaviour in generic and conditional sentences. Examples come from French, other Romance languages and English. Central to the proposed analyses is a distinction between two types of entities, individualized entities and amounts. Weak indefinites are analyzed as existential generalized quantifiers over amounts and strong indefinites as either Skolem terms or generalized quantifiers over individualized entities. The up-to-date review of the literature and the new falsifiable proposals contained in this book will be of particular interest to linguistics students and scholars interested in the cross-linguistic semantics of indefinites.

 

Content Level » Research

Keywords » Ambiguity of indefinites - Bare nouns - Cross-linguistic semantics - Denotation of indefinite DPs - Interpretation of indefinites - Mass - Plurals - Scope of indefinites - Semantic incorporation - Syntax and semantics - Weak indefinites

Related subjects » Linguistics

Table of contents 

Foreword .- Introduction . Chapter 1: Why indefinites? . 1 Typology of DPs . 1.1 Referential DPs . 1.2 Quantified DPs . 1.2.1 Tripartite structures . 1.2.2 Generalized quantifiers . 1.3. Indefinite DPs . 2 The representation of indefinite DPs .       2.1 Indefinites and existential quantification . 2.2 Indefinites as free variables . 2.3 Indefinites as choice functions .  2.4 Indefinites as Skolem terms . 2.5 Indefinites and properties . 2.6 Indefinites as existential generalized quantifiers over amounts . 2.7 Conclusion . 3 Semantic properties of nominal determiners . 3.1 Conservativity . 3.2 Intersectivity . 3.3 Symmetry . 3.4 Proportional determiners . 3.5 Monotonicity . 3.6 The semantic characterization of indefinites . 4 The interpretation of indefinites .          4.1 The interpretation of indefinites and presupposition . 4.1.1 Assertion and presupposition . 4.1.2 Presupposition of existence and assertion of existence . 4.1.3 Presupposition and partitivity . 4.2 Distributive and collective readings . 4.3 Scope ambiguities . 4.4 Specific / non-specific / generic readings . Conclusion .- Chapter 2: Bare Noun Phrases . 1 Bare nouns phrases across languages . 1.1 An overwiew of crosslinguistic variation . 1.2 The distribution of bare NPs in Romanian, Spanish and Catalan . 1.3 The syntactic structure of bare NPs . 2 Bare plurals are not the plural counterparts of singular indefinites . 2.1 Opacity . 2.2 Scope . 2.3 Aspect . 2.4 Anaphoric relations . 3 Count bare singulars are not the singular counterparts of bare plurals .       3.1 Distribution . 3.2 Crosslinguistic variation . 3.3 Interpretation: narrow scope with respect to negation . 3.4 Conclusions . 4 The semantics of bare plurals . 4.1 Bare plurals and reference to kinds .     4.1.1 The Carlsonian analysis . 4.1.2 Bare plurals in Romance languages are not kind-referring .4.2 Bare plurals and property-denotation . 4.2.1 Existential predicates . 4.2.2 Accounting for Carlson’s observations regarding scope . 4.2.3 Problems .  4.2.4 The property-analysis of count bare singulars .      4.3 Bare plurals and VP-level existential closure . 4.3.1 VP-level existential closure and scope . 4.3.2 VP-level existential closure and aspect . 4.3.3 Problems with generic objects . 4.4 Bare plurals as amount-referring expressions . 4.4.1 Individuals vs. amounts . 4.4.2 Bare plurals as existential generalized quantifiers over amounts . 5 Existential predicates and entity predicates . 5.1 Individual-level and stage-level predicates . 5.2 Space localization . 5.3 Some apparent problems . 6 French indefinites headed by du / de la / des . 6.1 Bare plurals and bare mass NPs . 6.2 Parallelisms between du / de la / des French indefinites and bare NPs in the other Romance languages . 6.3 On the Strong Reading of des Indefinites . 6.4 Mass nouns and the impossibility of individuation . 7 Bare NPs in predicate positions . 7.1 A subclass of nouns . 7.2 Distributional differences between singular indefinites and bare singulars . 7.3 Higgins' typology revisited . 7.4 Semantic composition . 7.5 Copular sentences built with singular indefinites as equatives . 7.6 Explaining the contrasts between bare singulars and indefinite singulars . 7.6.1 Small clauses and secondary predication . 7.6.2 Alternation between ce ‘that’ and il ‘he’ . 7.6.3 Modifying PPs for names of role . 7.6.4 Quantified subjects . 7.6.5 Lifetime effects . 7.6.6 Spatial and temporal modification .  7.6.7 Attributive uses of indefinite singulars . 7.7 Modified bare nouns . 7.8 The argument structure of relational nouns . 7.9 Comparison with other approaches . Conclusion .- Chapter 3: Existential sentences . 1 Constraints on existential sentences . 1.1 Existential sentences have property-denoting arguments . 1.1.1 The semantic composition of existential sentences according to McNally (1998) . 1.1.2 Negative existential sentences . 1.2 Problems with the property-analysis . 1.2.1 Definite DPs . 1.2.2 Adjectives . 1. 3. Our proposal in a nutshell . 2 Existential sentences in French . 2.1 The locative existential construction . 2.2 The eventive construction . 2.3 The enumerative construction . 2.4 Conclusions . 3 Existential sentences cannot have individual variables as arguments . 3.1 Heim's (1987) constraint . 3.2 Quantified DPs in existential sentences . 3.2.1 Quantification over types rather than tokens . 3.2.2. Representation . 3.3 Existential sentences inside relative clauses . 3.3.1 Amount Relatives . 3.3.2 Existential sentences in French relative clauses . Conclusion .- Chapter 4: The ambiguity of indefinites: towards a denotational definition of the weak/strong distinction . 1 Weak and strong indefinites . 2 Weak indefinites . 2.1 Weak indefinites as individual variables bound by existential closure . 2.2 Weak indefinites as property-denoting expressions . 2.3 Weak indefinites as amount referring expressions . 3 Strong indefinites . 3.1 Quantificational strong indefinites . 3.2 Non-quantificational strong indefinites . 3.2.1 Non-partitive strong readings . 3.2.2 Non-quantificational strong indefinites and wide scope effects . 3.3 The two strong readings of indefinites and the denotation of DPs . 4 The weak/strong distinction and presuppositionality . Conclusion .- Chapter 5: Disambiguating indefinites . 1 Disambiguating indefinites: DP-internal factors .1.1 Lexical specification of plural indefinites: partitivity, contrastivity and distributivity . 1.2 Partitive indefinite DPs . 1.3 Modified cardinals . 1.4 Prepositional accusatives: denotation type and specificity . 1.4.1 Romanian . 1.4.2 Spanish . 1.4.3 Conclusions . 2 Information structure and the disambiguation of indefinites . 2.1 Indefinites in the Topic position are presuppositional . 2.2 Non-topical presuppositional indefinites . 2.3 Only indefinites in Topic position are quantificational . 2.4 Indefinites at the left periphery . Conclusions .- Chapter 6: The Scope of Indefinites . 1 Scope: Current analyses . 1.1 Scope and quantifier raising . 1.2 Scope ambiguity or ambiguous indefinites? . 1.3 Intermediate scope or referential dependency? . 2 Scope and type of denotation . 2.1 On the obligatory narrow scope of weak Indefinite . 2.1.1 Bare nouns . 2.1.2 Modified cardinals in object position . 2.2 Inverse scope and individual-type denotation . 3 The distributivity of indefinites: quantification or distributive predication? . 3.1 The distributivity of inverse scope specific indefinites . 3.2 The quantificational status of indefinites in subject position . 4 Referential dependency and Skolem functions . Conclusions .-  Chapter 7: Genericity, (In)Definiteness and Bare Nouns . 1 Generic indefinites: quantification over events and over individuals . 1.1 Quantification over events and indirect binding of indefinites . 1.2 Adverbial quantification over individuals . 1.3 Syntax-semantics mapping rules . 1.4 Two types of generic readings for indefinites . 2 Characterizing sentences with habitual predicates . 2.1 Adverbial quantification over events . 2.2 Adverbial quantification over individuals . 2.3 Proposal: quantification over individuals combined with quantification over times . 2.4 Conclusions . 3 The genericity of singular indefinites . 3.1 GEN and the nomicity constraint . 3.2 Pseudo-generic indefinites in object positions . 4 The genericity of French des-indefinites . 4.1 The individuation constraint on quantification . 4.2 The generic readings of plural indefinites built with symmetric nouns . 4.3 The pseudo-generic reading of plural indefinites . 4.4 Conclusions . 5 The genericity of English bare nouns . 5.1 The genericity of French plural and mass ­indefinites and the genericity of English bare nouns . 5.2 Adverbs of quantification and kind-predication . Conclusions .- Chapter 8: Dependent Indefinites in Donkey-Sentences . 1 Dependency and donkey-sentences . 1.1 Indefinite DPs and universal quantification . 1.2 Indefinite DPs, free variables and unselective binding . 1.3 Symmetric and asymmetric readings of donkey-sentences . 2 Dependent indefinites . 2.1 Dependency on a situation . 2.2 Dependency on a quantified DP . 3 Dependency and proportion . 3.1 Symmetric and asymmetric readings . 3.2 Weak and strong asymmetric readings . 4 Dependency and reference . Conclusion .- Appendix . 1 Egli’s (1979) solution . 2 E-type analyses . 2.1 E-type pronouns: Evans (1980) . 2.2 A formal analysis with lambda Operators . Conclusion .- Bibliography .- Subject Index

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