Towards a variable-free semantics

Linguistics and Philosophy 22 (2):117-185 (1999)
Abstract
The Montagovian hypothesis of direct model-theoretic interpretation of syntactic surface structures is supported by an account of the semantics of binding that makes no use of variables, syntactic indices, or assignment functions & shows that the interpretation of a large portion of so-called variable-binding phenomena can dispense with the level of logical form without incurring equivalent complexity elsewhere in the system. Variable-free semantics hypothesizes local interpretation of each surface constituent; binding is formalized as a type-shifting operation on expressions that denote functions, & sentences containing a free pronoun are analyzed as a function from individuals to propositions having a meaning of type (e,t). Standard weak crossover effects & binding patterns in sentences with multiple pronouns are shown to submit to straightforward type-theoretic treatments that do not rely on indexation. The variable-free semantics smoothly implements full surface compositionality & requires less machinery than standard accounts to handle functional questions, their answers, sloppy inferences, & across-the-board binding. 73 References. J. Hitchcock
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