Towards an explanation of copula effects

Linguistics and Philosophy 26 (5):557-593 (2003)
This paper deals with a series of semantic contrasts between the copula be and the preposition as, two functional elements that both head elementary predication structures. It will be argued that the meaning of as is a type lowering device shifting the meaning of its complement NP from the type of generalized quantifiers to the type of properties (where properties are conceived as relations between individuals and situations), while the copula be induces a type coercion from (partial) situations to (total) possible worlds. Paired with van der Sandt's (1992) theory of presupposition accommodation, these assumptions will account for the observed contrasts between as and be.
Keywords Formal semantics  Discourse Representation Theory  Presuppositions  Underspecification
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