Indirectly direct: An account of demonstratives and pointing

Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (6):1345-1393 (2022)
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There has been a long debate on whether demonstratives are directly referential as Kaplan originally argued, or indirectly referential like a definite description. I propose a new analysis of demonstratives that combines intuitions from both direct and indirect approaches. The demonstrative is analyzed as an indirectly referential expression with a binary maximality operator that takes two arguments, where the second argument can be a deictic pointing, an anaphoric index, or a relative clause. Direct reference is encoded not in the meaning of the demonstrative but in the meaning contributed by the pointing gesture, thus capturing both direct and indirect uses. I further propose that some pronouns in English function as demonstratives, realizing the binary structure and competing with the demonstrative. The main advantages of this proposal include (a) deriving the distribution of pronominal and adnominal demonstratives systematically; (b) capturing the unique interaction that demonstratives have with a pointing gesture; and (c) locating English demonstratives against a larger, cross-linguistic picture.



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Citations of this work

A monstrous account of non-deictic readings of complex demonstratives.Joan Gimeno-Simó - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Not every pronoun is always a pronoun.E. G. Ruys - 2023 - Linguistics and Philosophy 46 (5):1027-1050.

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References found in this work

Demonstratives: An Essay on the Semantics, Logic, Metaphysics and Epistemology of Demonstratives and other Indexicals.David Kaplan - 1989 - In Joseph Almog, John Perry & Howard Wettstein (eds.), Themes From Kaplan. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 481-563.
Semantics in generative grammar.Irene Heim & Angelika Kratzer - 1998 - Malden, MA: Blackwell. Edited by Angelika Kratzer.
Descriptions.S. Neale - 1996 - Critica 28 (83):97-129.

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