|Abstract||As is well known, Russell assigned indefinite and definite descriptions the interpretations represented schematically in (1) and (2) respectively, where “CNP” stands for “Common Noun Phrase” in the sense used by Montague (1973) – i.e. as standing for the constituent which a determiner combines with to form a noun phrase (NP). (1) a. …a/an CNP… b. ∃x[CNP(x) & …x…] (2) a. …the CNP… b. ∃x[CNP(x) & ∀y[CNP(y) → y=x] & …x…] Examples (3) and (4) are illustrations. (3) a. Mary bought a car that she liked. b. ∃x[Car(x) & Liked(m, x) & Bought(m, x)] (4) a. Mary bought the car that she liked. b. ∃x[Car(x) & Liked(m, x) & ∀y[[Car(y) & Liked(m, y)] → y=x] & Bought(m, x)] The difference, as is obvious, is the underlined clause expressing uniqueness – exhaustive possession by the entity in question of the property expressed by the CNP. Szabó (2000) and Ludlow & Segal (2002) (following Kempson (1975), Breheny (1997), and others) defend analyses on which definite descriptions are assigned the same quantificational interpretation as Russell assigned to indefinite descriptions. Thus on both accounts (3a) as well as (4a) would be given the quantificational analysis in (3b). Both proposals acknowledge that definite descriptions differ from indefinites in their implications – where “implication” is to be understood as neutral between semantic and pragmatic conveyance. One of these implications is what is commonly termed “familiarity” – an assumption that the denotation of the NP2 has already been introduced.|
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