Hobbs (2010) introduced ‘clause-internal coherence’ (CIC) to describe inferences in, e.g., ‘A jogger was hit by a car,’ where the jogging is understood to have led to the car-hitting. Cohen & Kehler (2021) argue that well-known pragmatic tools cannot account for CIC, motivating an enrichment account familiar from discourse coherence research. An outstanding question is how to compositionally derive CIC from coherence relations. This paper takes strides in answering this question. It first provides experimental support for the existence of CIC (...) via offline evidence that attributive (non-)deverbal adjectives can trigger the same causal inferences within clauses that their predicative counterparts can trigger across clauses, albeit more weakly. To explain the experimental results, we use tools in Segmented Discourse Representation Theory (SDRT), which allows us to show that causal inferences can be derived in various ways, depending on whether deverbal adjectives are used attributively or predicatively. If the former, they are presupposition triggers and the coherence relations Elaboration/Continuation compete with Background; if the latter, Explanation/Result compete with Background. These different competitions -- cashed out in terms of interaction between default axioms -- correlate with the difference in the relative salience of the causal inferences. (shrink)
The pluralist about material constitution maintains that a lump of clay is not identical with the statue it constitutes. Although pluralism strikes many as extravagant by requiring distinct things to coincide, it can be defended with a simple argument. The monist is less well off. Typically, she has to argue indirectly for her view by finding problems with the pluralist's extravagance. This paper offers a direct argument for monism that illustrates how monism about material constitution is rooted in commonsense as (...) reflected in linguistic practice. In particular, I argue that everyday judgements that are contrastive like "The statue is beautiful for a lump of clay" entail the identity of the statue and the clay. (shrink)
Many languages offer a surprisingly complex range of options for referring to entities using expressions whose main descriptive content is contributed by an adjective, such as Dutch de blinde ‘the blind,’ het besprokene, ‘the discussed,’ or het ongewone van het niet roken ‘the strange about not smoking.’ In this paper, we present a case study of the syntax and compositional semantics of three such constructions in Dutch, one of which we argue has not previously been identified in the literature. The (...) data and the analysis will shed light on our understanding of how reference using adjectives differs from that using nouns in languages that have the two categories, as well as on the differences between reference to entities via their properties vs. reference to properties themselves. Finally, we briefly discuss related work and indicate directions for future study of the typological variation found in this rich and highly understudied corner of natural language. (shrink)
Points of variation manifested by adjectives crosslinguistically have received much recent attention in the literature. This paper argues that one way in which adjectives may differ is in their projection of a degree argument position in the syntax. Under standard analyses of adjectival meaning, semantic transitivity implies syntactic transitivity. However, the Navajo data presented in this paper suggests that while all Navajo adjectives have a degree argument in their semantics, syntactic projection of the degree argument is only licensed by special (...) morphology on the adjective. (shrink)
This paper develops a semantic analysis of data like It is getting colder and colder. Their meaning is argued to arise from a combination of a comparative with pluractionality. The analysis is embedded in a general theory of plural predication and pluractionality. It supports a semantic theory involving a family of syntactic plural operators.
This book argues against the traditional understanding of the semantics/pragmatics divide and puts forward a radical alternative. Through half a dozen case studies, it shows that what an utterance says cannot be neatly separated from what the speaker means. In particular, the speaker's meaning endows words with senses that are tailored to the situation of utterance and depart from the conventional meanings carried by the words in isolation. This phenomenon of ‘pragmatic modulation’ must be taken into account in theorizing about (...) semantic content, for it interacts with the grammar-driven process of semantic composition. Because of that interaction, the book argues, the content of a sentence always depends upon the context in which it is used. This claim defines Contextualism, a view which has attracted considerable attention in recent years, and of which the author of this book is one of the main proponents. (shrink)
This paper explores a novel analysis of adjectives in the comparative and the positive based on the notion of a trope, rather than the notion of a degree. Tropes are particularized properties, concrete manifestations of properties in individuals. The point of departure is that a sentence like ‘John is happier than Mary’ is intuitively equivalent to ‘John’s happiness exceeds Mary’s happiness’, a sentence that expresses a simple comparison between two tropes, John’s happiness and Mary’s happiness. The analysis received particular support (...) from various parallels between adjectival constructions and corresponding adjective nominalizations which make reference to tropes. (shrink)
The paper argues that the assumption that there are property designators, together with two theoretically innocent claims, leads to a puzzle, whose solution requires us to reject the position that all (canonical) property designators are rigid. But if we deny that all (canonical) property designators are rigid, then the natural next step is to reject an abundant conception of properties and with it the suggestion that properties are the semantic values of predicates.
The paper is concerned with some of the most important semantic characteristics of compound words in adjectival sentence positions in English. Its aim is to study the morphemes and combining elements that make up such compounds, more specifically compound adjectives and noun compounds in attributive and predicative functions. This empirical research is predominantly based on an analysis involving meaning implications of the combinatory elements of adjectival compounds, both the initially and finally positioned ones. The analysis has been conducted on authentic (...) language material collected for the purposes of a larger-scale research into a corpus incorporating several works of different genres totalling around one million words. The number of ACs examined is around 1600 words. More significant conclusions reached in this inquiry would be those concerning the semantic fields these elements most often belong to, the most productive morphemes, as well as the characteristic types of semantic feature bundles. (shrink)
The paper considers the main formal characteristics of English compound words in adjectival sentence positions, systematized and based on language corpus analysis. The analysis of the compounds along the lines of their composite form, the constituent elements of these words, their interrelationships and other features is accompanied by numerous contextualized examples. The paper provides a statistical confirmation of the fact that compound adjectives make the most prominent group of adjectival compounds , as well as it makes a statement about certain (...) important orthographic implications. Further on, the typical English adjectival compound would be the one with a noun as the first and past participle as the second element of the compound. On the basis of the research conducted here, it can be also concluded that the presence of inflectional morphemes in adjectival compounds is semantically conditioned, and that derivatives only infrequently serve as elements of compound adjectivals. (shrink)
We propose that the restrictive/non restrictive distinction found in relative clauses corresponds to the Inalienable vs Alienable distinction of the Nominal Possessive constructions. We propose to extend this distinction to adjectives suggesting that is not construction specific.