Specificational sentences show Connectivity Effects (Akmajian 1970, Higgins 1979, Halvorsen 1978, Jacobson 1994, among others). For example, an NP like no man embedded in a relative clause in general cannot bind a pronoun outside the relative clause, as illustrated in (3a); but in specificational copular sentences this binding is possible, as in (3b). This effect is called Variable Binding Connectivity. Similarly, the NP a unicorn cannot be interpreted de dicto with respect to the embedded verb look for in (4a); but (...) a de dicto reading is possible in the specificational sentence (4b) (Opacity Connectivity). Connectivity will be used in this paper as a diagnosis for specificational sentences. (shrink)
This paper describes a novel pedagogical software program that can be seen as an online companion to one of the standard textbooks of formal natural language semantics, Heim and Kratzer (1998). The Penn Lambda Calculator is a multifunctional application designed for use in standard graduate and undergraduate introductions to formal semantics: Teachers can use the application to demonstrate complex semantic derivations in the classroom and modify them interactively, and students can use it to work on problem sets provided by the (...) teacher. The program supports demonstrations and exercises in two main areas: (1) performing beta reduction in the simply typed lambda calculus; (2) application of the bottom-up algorithm for computing the compositional semantics of natural language syntax trees. The program is able to represent the full range of phenomena covered in the Heim and Kratzer textbook by function application, predicate modiﬁcation, and lambda abstraction. This includes phenomena such as intersective adjectives, relative clauses and quantiﬁer raising. In the student use case, emphasis has been placed on providing “live” feedback for incorrect answers. Heuristics are used to detect the most frequent student errors and to return speciﬁc, interactive suggestions. (shrink)
This paper develops a framework for TAG (Tree Adjoining Grammar) semantics that brings together ideas from diﬀerent recent approaches. Then, within this framework, an analysis of scope is proposed that accounts for the diﬀerent scopal properties of quantiﬁers, adverbs, raising verbs and attitude verbs. Finally, including situation variables in the semantics, diﬀerent situation binding possibilities are derived for diﬀerent types of quantiﬁcational elements.
This paper presents the observation that negative non-wh-questions with inverted negation do not have an alternative (alt-)question reading. In English, a simple question like (1) has two possible readings: a yes-no (yn-)question reading, paraphrased in (1a), and an alt-question reading, disambiguated in (1b). Under the yn-question reading, the question can be answered as in (2); under the alt-question reading, acceptable answers are (3).
Certain information-seeking yes/no (yn)-questions –e.g. Did Jorge really bring a present? and Doesn’t John drink?– convey an epistemic bias of the speaker. Two main approaches to biased yn-questions are compared: the VERUM approach and the Decision Theory approach. It is argued that, while Decision Theory can formally characterize the notion of “intent” of a question, VERUM is needed to derive the data.
There are two main approaches to the scopal properties of the N’-restrictors of which-phrases. One line attributes widest scope within the interrogative clause to the entire which-phrase, outside the question formation operator, often assumed to reside in C0. The result is Karttunen’s (1977) question denotation --exemplified in (1b)--,1 whose distinctive feature is that the semantic contribution of the N’- restrictor of the which-phrase is represented outside the so-called question nucleus, i.e., outside the subformula “p=…”. The second main avenue interprets (...) the N’-restrictor of which-phrases somewhere inside the question nucleus, that is, under the scope of the question formation operator and possibly under other, further embedded operators. The outcome is Hamblin’s (1973) --or unselective binding—question meaning, as in (1c). This paper will be concerned with this second line, which I will refer to as the base position line (as opposed to wide scope line). (shrink)
This papers presents a compositional semantic analysis of interrogatives clauses in LTAG (Lexicalized Tree Adjoining Grammar) that captures the scopal properties of wh- and nonwh-quantiﬁcational elements. It is shown that the present approach derives the correct semantics for examples claimed to be problematic for LTAG semantic approaches based on the derivation tree. The paper further provides an LTAG semantic derivation of interrogative clauses under question embedding verbs.
Some natural language expressions –namely, determiners like every, some, most, etc.— introduce quantification over individuals (or, in other words, they express relations between sets of individuals). For example, the truth conditions of a sentence like (1a) are represented in Predicate Logic (PrL) by binding the..
The term “Reduced Conditional” is coined by Schwarz (1996, 1998, 2000) to designate a certain kind of ellipsis that may occur in the consequent of a Conditional in German, as illustrated in (1): (1a) is a Full Conditional (FC, henceforth) and (1b) is its Reduced Conditional (RC) counterpart.
In (1b), for the most part induces a so-called Quantificational Variability Effect (QVE) on the NP the linguists from the East Coast, yielding roughly the interpretation ‘most of the linguists from the East Coast came to NELS’. We claim that the two constructions above differ in the domain where they apply, producing similar but not identical quantificational interpretations over the NP. In particular, we argue that most of the NPs applies to the nominal domain, while for the most part applies (...) to the verbal domain. Our claim is based on two sets of novel semantic data. First, we show that the distribution of most of the NPs is parallel to that of all the NPs in terms of its selective compatibility with collective predicates. To account for this data, we extend Brisson’s (1998, 2003) analysis of all the NPs to most of the NPs, concluding that most is an ∃-quantifier introducing a group of a certain proportion. Second, we show that, when for the most part gives rise to a QVE on a definite NP, the collective interpretation is not available. We develop a semantic analysis of for the most part as a verbal modifier that explains the lack of collective readings and that extends to interpretations other than QVE. The structure of the paper is as follows: in section 2, we introduce some general background on events and distributivity that are relevant to the current paper. In section 3, we propose the analysis of most of the NPs, followed by the analysis of for the most part in section 4. Section 5 concludes the paper and discusses further issues. (shrink)
Connectivity, found in a number of constructions involving typically a trace of movement or gap, is the effect by which a constituent behaves grammatically as if it occupied not its surface position but the position of the gap. The phenomenon is central to the debate between defendants of Direct Compositionality –where the semantics is read off the ‘visible’, surface syntax– and the defendants of the so-called Logical Form (LF) –according to which semantics is computed on an abstract syntactic representation, LF, (...) obtained after applying some transformations to the surface syntax. The present paper is concerned with connectivity in specificational copular sentences. A simple specificational copular sentence is given in (1), where the post-copular constituent Smith identifies the actual value of the subject N(oun) P(hrase) the murderer. More complex examples reveal connectivity effects, as shown in (2)-(4) (Akmajian 1970, Higgins 1973, Halvorsen 1978, among others). (shrink)
Montague’s analysis of the well-known temperature paradox poses a problem for Gupta’s syllogism, whose surface syntax differs from the temperature syllogism in the addition of the intensional adverb necessarily. Lasersohn (2005) argues that the puzzle arising from these syllogisms can be solved if one adopts the Fregean presuppositional treatment of definite descriptions, and concludes that the temperature-Gupta puzzle provides an argument in favor of such treatment. This paper shows that the analysis of definite descriptions is in fact orthogonal to the (...) puzzle. Instead, it will be shown that the differences between the two syllogisms stem from the temporal interpretation of their premises. (shrink)
Superlative adjectives accompanied by certain modal adjectives like possible (e.g. John bought the largest possible present) are ambiguous between a reading where possible is a regular noun modifier and a reading paraphrasable as ‘as Adj as possible’, called ‘modal superlative reading’. Three interesting restrictions have been observed in the literature. First, possible and some other adjectives ending in -able, but not potential and probable, support the latter reading. Second, when the modal adjective appears postnominally, only the modal superlative reading is (...) available. Third, prenominal possible needs to be in a local configuration to -est in order for the modal superlative reading to arise. Using LF structures independently motivated for degree constructions, the present paper develops a compositional semantic analysis of the modal superlative reading, makes correct new predictions concerning this reading, and—by reconciling previous, opposed syntactic analyses—allows us to derive the three empirical restrictions above. The key innovations are: (i) the previously proposed constituent [possible ▲ellipsis] is interpreted as an amount relative clause, and (ii) this constituent is treated as overtly expressing the comparison class argument of -est. (shrink)
This paper is concerned with Noun Phrases (NPs, henceforth) occurring in two constructions: concealed question NPs and NP subjects of specificational sentences. The first type of NP is illustrated in (1). The underlined NPs in (1) have been called ‘concealed questions’ because sentences that embed them typically have the same truth-conditional meaning as the corresponding versions with a full-fledged embedded interrogative clause, as illustrated in (2) (Heim 1979).
Preposed negation yes/no (yn)-questions like Doesn''t Johndrink? necessarily carry the implicature that the speaker thinks Johndrinks, whereas non-preposed negation yn-questions like DoesJohn not drink? do not necessarily trigger this implicature. Furthermore,preposed negation yn-questions have a reading ``double-checking'''' pand a reading ``double-checking'''' p, as in Isn''t Jane comingtoo? and in Isn''t Jane coming either? respectively. We present otheryn-questions that raise parallel implicatures and argue that, in allthe cases, the presence of an epistemic conversational operator VERUMderives the existence and content of the (...) implicature as well as thep/ p-ambiguity. (shrink)
In English, a non-wh-question may have a disjunctive phrase explicitly providing the choices that the question ranges over. For example, in (1), the disjunction or not indicates that the the choice is between the positive and the negative polarity for the relevant proposition, as spelled out in the yes/no (yn)-question reading (2) and in the answers (2a,b). Another example is (3). The disjunction in (3) can be understood as providing the choices that the question ranges over, hence giving rise to (...) the alternative (alt-)reading in (4) and eliciting the answers in (4a,b). (Cf. Karttunen (1977) and Higginbotham (1993) for the semantics of yn/alt-questions). (shrink)