David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Semantics 29 (2):261-293 (2012)
Plural definite descriptions (e.g. the things on the plate) and free relative clauses (e.g. what is on the plate) have been argued to share the same semantic properties, despite their syntactic differences. Specifically, both have been argued to be non-quantificational expressions referring to the maximal element of a given set (e.g. the set of things on the contextually salient plate). We provide experimental support for this semantic analysis with the first reported simultaneous investigation of children’s interpretation of both constructions, highlighting how experimental methods can inform semantic theory. A Truth-Value Judgment task and an Act-Out task show that children know that the two constructions differ from quantificational nominals (e.g. all the things on the plate) very early on (4 years old). Children also acquire the adult interpretation of both constructions at the same time, around 6–7 years old. This happens despite major differences in the frequency of these constructions, according to our corpus study of children’s linguistic input. We discuss possible causes for this late emergence. We also argue that our experimental findings contribute to the recent theoretical debate on the correct semantic analysis of free relatives
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Paul Bloom & Lori Markson (1998). Capacities Underlying Word Learning. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 2 (2):67-73.
Charles D. Yang (2004). Universal Grammar, Statistics or Both? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8 (10):451-456.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Berit Brogaard (2007). Sharvy's Theory of Definite Descriptions Revisited. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 88 (2):160–180.
Berit Brogaard (2007). The but Not All: A Partitive Account of Plural Definite Descriptions. Mind and Language 22 (4):402–426.
Alex Oliver & Timothy Smiley (2005). Plural Descriptions and Many-Valued Functions. Mind 114 (456):1039-1068.
Berit Brogaard (2010). Descriptions: An Annotated Bibliography. Oxford Annotated Bibliographies Online.
Friederike Moltmann (forthcoming). Plural Reference and Reference to a Plurality. A Reassessment of the Linguistic Facts. In Massimiliano Carrara, Alessandra Arapinis & Friederike Moltmann (eds.), Unity and Plurality. Logic, Philosophy, and Semantics. Oxford University Press.
Keith S. Donnellan (1966). Reference and Definite Descriptions. Philosophical Review 75 (3):281-304.
Karel Lambert (1987). On the Philosophical Foundations of Free Description Theory. History and Philosophy of Logic 8 (1):57-66.
Friederike Moltmann (2012). Tropes, Intensional Relative Clauses, and the Notion of a Variable Object. In Aloni Maria, Kimmelman Vadim, Weidman Sassoon Galit, Roloefson Floris, Schulz Katrin & Westera Matthjis (eds.), Proceedings of the 18th Amsterdam Colloquium 2011. Springer.
ST Kuhn (2000). Embedded Definite Descriptions: Russellian Analysis and Semantic Puzzles. Mind 109 (435):443-454.
Kent Bach (2004). Descriptions: Points of Reference. In Marga Reimer & Anne Bezuidenhout (eds.), Descriptions and Beyond. Clarendon Press.
Helen Morris Cartwright (1993). On Plural Reference and Elementary Set Theory. Synthese 96 (2):201 - 254.
Added to index2012-01-13
Total downloads9 ( #146,831 of 1,096,180 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #218,857 of 1,096,180 )
How can I increase my downloads?