One of the success stories in formal semantics is the analysis of NPs as generalized quantifiers, which can be traced back from Barwise & Cooper (1981) via Montague to Frege. The great attraction of this analysis is that it allows for a compositional analysis of the meaning of noun phrases that is consistent with independently motivated assumptions about their syntax. For example, Barwise and Cooper analyze NPs like every boy, a boy, three boys and no boy as having the syntactic (...) structure [Det N], and interpretations as second-order predicates, as follows. (shrink)
It is customary to identify three broad classes of grading particles: additive particles like also, exclusive particles like only, and scalar particles like even (cf. König (1991); in the examples, grave accent stands for the main, falling accent).
Recent discussion of the meaning contribution of focus centered around the question of how focus information is integrated into semantic and pragmatic interpretation. One type of theory assumes that certain operators can make direct use of focus information. These theories stipulate that focus-sensitive operators like only or even, quantificational adverbials, and reason clauses have to be associated with a focus in their scope. Such “association with focus” theories have been proposed, for example, by Jackendoff (1972), Jacobs (1983), Rooth (1985), von (...) Stechow (1990) and Krifka (1992). More recently, Rooth (1992) has proposed that focus contributes in a more indirect way to the interpretation of these operators. Rooth argued that the quantificational domain of such operators is fixed by contextual factors, and that these contextual factors in turn are influenced by focus. More specifically, focus is seen as a device that introduces and regulates contextual variables that are then taken up by certain operators. One important argument for the contextual account of focus is that it does not have to stipulate focus in certain cases, namely socalled “second occurrence expressions”, in which there is little, if any, phonological evidence for it. (shrink)
It is generally assumed that there are two types of genericity, called characterizing statements and kind reference in Krifka et al. (1995). Characterizing statements express generalizations about sets of entities or situations, cf. (1); kind reference involves reference to an entity that is related to specimens, cf. (2).
The following contribution1 was inspired by Cleo Condoravdi’s article on NPI licensing in temporal clauses (Condoravdi, this volume). Condoravdi gives a coherent and comprehensive account of be- fore which crucially involves coercion of propositions to the earliest or maximal times at which the propositions are true, and a modal component for non-factual interpretations. I argue for a nonmodal, non-coercive analysis of clauses like [A before B] as ‘A is the case when B has not been the case’, triggering a conversational (...) implicature that B will be the case later. I will discuss temporal operators involving measure phrases, like three hours before, and I will show that so-called “expletive” negation in corresponding clauses in German is, in fact, interpreted as negation. (shrink)
This article1 investigates a particular use of generic sentences (or “characterizing” sentences, in the terminology of Krifka e.a. 1995), which is most prevalent with indefinite singular subjects. Such subjects cannot always be interchanged with bare plural NPs, as has been famously pointed out by Lawler (1973).
Speech acts have sometimes been considered as unembeddable, for principled reasons. In this paper, I argue that speech acts can be embedded under certain circumstances. In particular, I consider denegation and conjunction of speech acts, quantification into speech acts, conditionalization of speech acts, the embedding of speech acts by verbs like say and wonder, speechact-modifying adverbials like frankly, clauses commenting on speech acts, like certain uses of because-clauses, parentheticals, and appositive relative clauses. A crucial distinction is made between speech acts (...) and speech act potentials, linguistic objects that can be used to perform speech acts when applied in a specific communicative situation. I develop a semantic theory in which speech act potentials are captured as semantic functions that change a world-time index, reflecting the nature of speech acts as events that happen in the world. As index changers, speech act potentials become nearly regular semantic objects, with a proper semantic type on which other semantic objects can operate on. In this way, speech acts (or rather, speech-act potentials) become part of the recursive structure of language. (shrink)
In the logical, philosophical and linguistic literature, a number of theoretical frameworks have been proposed for the meaning of questions (see Ginzburg (1995), Groenendijk & Stokhof (1997) for recent overviews). I will concentrate on two general approaches that figured prominently in linguistic semantics, which I will call the proposition set approach and the structured meaning approach (sometimes called the “propositional” and the “categorial” or “functional” approach). I will show that the proposition set approach runs into three problems: It does not (...) always predict the right focus structure in answers, it is unable to distinguish between polarity (yes/no) and a certain type of alternative questions, and it does not allow to formulate an important condition for a type of multiple constituent questions. On the other hand, I will show that the main argument brought forward against the structured meaning framework, namely that it does not give us an elegant way to account for embedded questions, does not withstand closer scrutiny. In this I will take up an issue raised in von Stechow (1990), namely, that the greater expressive power of the structured meaning approach might be necessary for the proper treatment of semantic phenomena like question formation and focusation. (shrink)
I think that some of the arguments in this article are themselves flawed, or are based on an understanding of linguistics that is too narrowly focused on certain versions of generative grammar. For example, the argument that in computational applications purely statistical approaches are in general more successful than rule-based approaches has to be qualified: It holds, or may have hold, for certain applications like machine translation, but not for others, like the generation of text to answer queries to databases. (...) Furthermore, statistical methods have been integrated in certain linguistic theories themselves, like stochastic optimality theory (Boersma & Hayes 2001). The authors also claim that linguistics is not able to come up with leading questions for the cognitive and neurophysiological investigation of language processing. This statement is even more puzzling, as it is difficult to name serious research in psycholinguistics or in neurophysiological aspects of language processing that is not informed by theoretical notions rooted in linguistics, many of them derived from generative grammar. To cite just one case: Recursion has been proposed – perhaps unjustly so – as the single property that distinguishes human language processing from other animal communication systems; this has led to the identification of special brain regions and pathways of recursive language processing (cf. Friederici 2009). (shrink)
(1) a. happy, not happy, unhappy, not unhappy b. likely, not likely, unlikely, not unlikely c. intelligent, not intelligent, unintelligent, not unintelligent d. successful, not successful, unsuccessful, not unsuccessful e. polite, not polite, impolite, not impolite f. common, not common, uncommon, not uncommon g. frequent, not frequent, infrequent, not infrequent h. many, not many, few, not few..
This influence of accent has been taken as evidence that adverbial quantification is focus sensitive (cf. Rooth (1985)) or presupposition sensitive (cf. von Fintel (1994), Rooth (1995)). I will discuss a problem that has been identified by von Fintel and Rooth, the requantifiation problem. Roughly stated, standard accounts of indefinites as NPs that introduce new discourse referents are at odds with standard accounts of the focus sensitivity or presupposition sensitivity of (1), which force us to assume that indefinites may pick (...) up existing discourse referents and “requantify” over them. I will argue for a special class of indefinites that pick up existing discourse referents, which I will call non-novel indefinites, to explain the nature.. (shrink)
The classical analysis of donkey sentences like (1.a,b) in Kamp (1981) and Heim (1982) assigns them truth conditions as given in (2.a). That is, they are treated as quantifications over farmer-donkey pairs. Partee (1984) and Kadmon (1987) have pointed out that the proper reading of (1.b), and a preferred reading of (1.a), is rather a quantification over farmers, as illustrated in (2.b).
This talk is based on Krifka (2001). Its topic is the interpretation of quantifiers in questions. I will use English data for illustration, but the phenomena to be discussed appear to be general enough to be relevant for other languages as well, at least those languages that have nominal quantifiers.
One of the difficult areas for persons learning a foreign language is to grasp the range of usages of syntactic patterns that exist in the foreign language. It is not sufficient to learn how passive formation works, or how pre- or postpositional phrases are constructed, or how perfect tenses are expressed. One also has to learn which verbs can passivize at all, which verbs go with which pre- or postpositions, and, in case perfect tenses are expressed, as in a number (...) of European languages, with different auxiliaries like ‘have’ and ‘be’, which verb needs which auxiliary. For English, Levin (1993) distinguishes no less than 57 verb classes, most of them with a number of subclasses, that show distinct syntactic behavior. (shrink)
Meanings are the most elusive objects of linguistic research. The article summarizes the type of evidence we have for them: various types of metalinguistic activities like paraphrasing and translating, the ability to name entities and judge sentences true or false, as well as various behavioral and physiological measures such as reaction time studies, eye tracking.
For a number of years it has been recognized that the social dynamics of group interaction is an import factor in the origin of accidents and in the way how accidents or accident-prone situations are handled in aviation (cf. Helmreich 1997a, 1997b). Factors related to interpersonal communication have been implicated in up to 80% of all aviation accidents over the past 20 years. As a reaction to this, Crew Resource Management (CRM) has been developed with the goal of rating and (...) improving crew performance in aviation and in other fields in which professional groups interact in situations of high taskload and potential risk (cf. Helmreich ea. 1999). As far as this can be estimated at all, installing CRM techniques in the major American and European airlines has resulted in a definite improvement in the safety of commercial aviation. In spite of this success of CRM, practitioners in the field feel that, beyond the general social dynamics of group interaction, there might be potential problems relating to language and communication in such settings. (shrink)
Aspectual particles (the term is due to (König 1991)) appear to come in groups, related by negation, and therefore have attracted the attention of formal semanticists. The following examples list the particles of English, German and Hebrew; they show that the system is semantically transparent in various degrees.
The ways in which languages express primary sense qualities have been investigated quite unevenly, which is due to the fact that there are great differences in how the senses are linguistically represented, which in turn reflects differences in these sense qualities themselves and their role in cognition.
Given the beginnings of the United States of America, its sympathy with the French revolution and its rationalist attitude towards the institutions of society, one would have expected that it would have been one of the first nations to adopt the new metric system that was introduced in France in 1800. But the history of the attempts to do so is decidedly mixed. American Congress authorized the use of the metric system in 1866. In 1959, American measurements were defined in (...) relation to the metric system. In 1968, the government ordered a study which was published three years later under the title “A Metric America: A Decision Whose Time Has Come”. The year 1975 then saw the Metric Conversion Act, leading to the establishment of the US Metric Board. Amended in 1988, it resulted in the Metric Program, an organization founded to support the various federal agencies, which are required since 1991 to file an annual report on their efforts to change to the metric system. (shrink)
This article takes stock of the basic notions of Information Structure (IS). It first provides a general characterization of IS following Chafe (1976) within a communicative model of Common Ground (CG), which distinguishes between CG content and CG management. IS is concerned with those features of language that concern the local CG. It then defines and discusses the notions of Focus (as indicating alternatives) and its various uses, Givenness (as indicating that a denotation is already present in the CG), and (...) Topic (as specifying what an statement is about). It also proposes a new notion, Delimitation, which comprises contrastive topics and frame setters, and indicates that the current conversational move does not satisfy the local communicative needs totally. It also points out that the rhetorical structuring partly belongs to IS. (shrink)
The sentence With these three shirts and four pairs of pants, one can make twelve different outfits does not entail that one can dress twelve persons. The article proposes an analysis of “configurational” entities like outfits as individual concepts. It investigates the interaction of noun phrases based on such nouns with temporal and modal operators and in collective and cumulative interpretations. It also discusses a generalization from tokens to types, as in with the seven pieces of a tan- gram set, (...) one can lay dozens of figures, suggesting an analysis of outfits and tangram figures in terms of properties. (shrink)
Modern Standard German does not have distinct forms for nominatives and accusatives in the feminine gender. This is not only unique within Germanic languages, but also quite remarkable from a typological and functional viewpoint, under the plausible assumption that feminine NPs do not differ in animacy from masculine NPs. I will discuss the loss of the N/A distinction for feminines in detail and speculate about possible reasons – among others, that the referents of feminines are not typically animate, that the (...) syncretism was modelled after a similar syncretism in the plural, and that a sexist bias of the speech community in which the syncretism originated influenced a core part of the grammar of their language. (shrink)
While language is presumably unique to humans, there are possible pre-linguistic features that developed in the course of human evolution which predate features of language, and might have even been essential for its evolution. A number of such possible preadaptations for human language have been discussed, like the permanent lowering of the larynx, the ability to control one’s breath, or the inclination of humans to imitate. In this paper I would like to point out another candidate for a preadaptation, namely (...) the functional differentiation of the hands and the way in which they cooperate in manual actions. (shrink)
(2) Peter wollte Potsdam nicht verlassen bevor das Projekt in ruhigem Fahrwasser war. There are other well-known examples of non-interpreted negation, viz. cases of so-called negative concord in Slavic and Romance languages, but also in dialects of German and English. But arguably, in those cases the “superfluous” negation has to be present for grammatical reasons, which is not the case here. I will show that the negation is in fact interpreted, and that, due to a complex interplay of semantic and (...) pragmatic factors, we do get truth conditions for the two sentences that are not quite identical, but very similar. (shrink)
The idea that various subsystems of the linguistic faculty interact with and through information structure has an ever growing influence on linguistic theory formation. While this development is very promising, it also involves the risk that fundamental notions are understood in a different way in different subfields, so that congruent results may only be apparent or cross-discipline generalizations may be overlooked – dangers that are very real, as notorious examples from the past have shown. The present volume is an attempt (...) to minimize such risks. First, one of the editors, Manfred Krifka, has contributed an article in which he proposes precise definitions for the key notions of information structure and embeds his definitions into the context of the current debate. Second, we asked colleagues from the SFB 632 and external experts on information structure for short contributions shedding light on the notions of information structure from various perspectives by offering definitions and discussing the scope and nature of the fundamentals of information structure for their subfields. These contributions complement each other, in the sense that Krifka’s proposal may be considered a frame for the other papers. However, they should not be considered the final.. (shrink)
There are a number of well-known restrictions for the Dative Alternation (cf. Green (1974), Oehrle (1976), Gropen, Pinker, Hollander, & Goldberg (1989), Pinker (1989), Pesetsky (1992), Levin (1993). I will show that several of the low-level semantic restrictions are consequences of a more general one involving the incorporation of a manner component into the meaning of the verb. These restrictions can be explained by assuming two distinct representations of verbs participating in the Dative Alternation: The PO frame expresses movement of (...) an object t o a g o a l , the DO frame implies a change of possession. I will argue that these restrictions cannot be expressed in a syntactic representation of lexical meaning as in Pinker (1989) and Hale & Keyser (1993). (shrink)
Quantified NPs in questions lead to three distinct interpretations that can be recognized in their congruent answers. Assume a potlatch party with three guests, Al, Bill and Carl. Question (1) is asked. The narrow-scope reading of (1) requires answers like (2a), the functional reading, answers like (2b), and the pair-list reading, answers like (2c).
The distinction between telic and atelic predicates has been described in terms of the algebraic properties of their meaning since the early days of model-theoretic semantics. This perspective was inspired by Aristotle’s discussion of types of actions that do or do not take time to be completed1 which was taken up and turned into a linguistic discussion of action-denoting predicates by Vendler (1957). The algebraic notion that seemed to be most conducive to express the Aristotelian distinction appeared to be the (...) mereological notion of a part, applied to the time at which these predicates hold: atelic predicates, like push a cart, have the subinterval property, that is, whenever they are true at a time interval, then they are true at any part of that interval; this does not hold for telic predicates, like eat an apple, cf. Bennett & Partee (1972), Taylor (1977), and Dowty (1979)2. Bach (1986) integrated these insights into a semantics based on events. (shrink)
In Krifka (2001) I argued that three distinct phenomena of question semantics – alternative questions like Did it rain or not?, multiple constituent questions with pair-list readings like Who bought what? and the focus patterns of answers to constituent questions – cannot be dealt with adequately within the framework of Alternative Semantics. In Krifka (to appear) I argue that Alternative Semantics also is problematic as a framework for focus semantics in general; in particular, it makes wrong predictions in case focus (...) occurs in syntactic islands. (shrink)
This paper investigates relative constructions as in The gifted mathematician that you claim to be should be able to solve this equation, in which the head noun (gifted mathematician) is semantically dependent on an intensional operator in the relative clause (claim), even though it is not c-commanded by it. This is the kind of situation that has led, within models of linguistic description that assume a syntactic level of Logical Form, to analyses in which the head noun is interpreted within (...) the CP-internal gap by reconstruction or interpretation of a lower element of a chain. We offer a solution that views surface representation as the input to semantics. The apparent inverted scope effects are traced back to the interpretation of the head nominal gifted mathematician as applying to individual concepts, and of the relative clause that you claim to be as including an equational statement. According to this view, the complex DP in question refers to the individual concept that exists just in the worlds that are compatible with what is generally supposed to be the case, is a gifted mathematician in those worlds, and is identical to you in those worlds. Our solution is related to the nonreconstructionist analysis of binding of pronouns that do not stand in a c-command relationship to their binder, as in The woman that every man hugged was his mother in Jacobson (in: Harvey, Santelmann (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory IV:161–178, 1994) and Sharvit (in: Galloway, Spence (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory VI:227–244, 1996), and allows us to capture both similarities with and differences from the latter type of construction. We point out and offer explanations for a number of properties of such relative clauses—in particular their need for an internal intensional operator, their incompatibility with any determiner other than the definite article, and the fact that some of their properties are shared by demonstrably distinct kinds of relative clauses. (shrink)
This paper investigates relative constructions as in The gifted mathematician that you claim to be should be able to solve this equation, in which the head noun (gifted mathematician) is semantically dependent on an intensional operator in the relative clause (claim), even though it is not c-commanded by it. This is the kind of situation that has led, within models of linguistic description that assume a syntactic level of Logical Form, to analyses in which the head noun is interpreted within (...) the CP-internal gap by reconstruction or interpretation of a lower element of a chain. We offer a solution that views surface representation as the input to semantics. The apparent inverted scope effects are traced back to the interpretation of the head nominal gifted mathematician as applying to individual concepts, and of the relative clause that you claim to be as including an equational statement. According to this view, the complex DP in question refers to the individual concept that exists just in the worlds that are compatible with what is generally supposed to be the case, is a gifted mathematician in those worlds, and is identical to you in those worlds. Our solution is related to the non-reconstructionist analysis of binding of pronouns that do not stand in a c-command relationship to their binder, as in The woman that every man hugged was his mother in Jacobson (in: Harvey, Santelmann (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory IV:161-178, 1994) and Sharvit (in: Galloway, Spence (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory VI:227-244, 1996), and allows us to capture both similarities with and differences from the latter type of construction. We point out and offer explanations for a number of properties of such relative clauses—in particular their need for an internal intensional operator, their incompatibility with any determiner other than the definite article, and the fact that some of their properties are shared by demonstrably distinct kinds of relative clauses. (shrink)
This article1 deals with a well-known but still ill-explained fact about German, namely scope inversion under a particular accent contour, as illustrated with the following examples, where “/” and “\” stand for rising and falling accent: (a) Mindestens ein Stu- dent hat jeden Roman gelesen, lit. ‘at least one student has every novel read’, with the reading “For at least one student x: x read every book”, and (b) Mindestens /EIN Student hat \JEDen Roman gelesen, with the additional reading “For (...) every novel y: at least one student read y”. I will derive the scope inversion in this reading from general principles of scope assignment and focus marking in German. In particular, I will argue that focus is assigned to constituents that precede the verbal predicate, which leads to syntactic configurations that in turn result in ambiguous interpretations. This explanation must be couched in a framework of derivational economy that favors shorter derivations. It is argued that the relevant comparison class is defined with respect to phonological form, not, as has been suggested for English, with respect t o identity of semantic interpretation, and that this may be a general property of “free” word order languages. (shrink)