Aspect, quantification and plurality

Abstract

The goal of this dissertation is twofold. First, we aim to identify the source of distributivity in natural language. Our hypothesis is that throughout the grammar, distributivity can be tracked down to a single operator. Two converging lines of reasoning help us identify this operator. One line emerges as a result of generalizing and unifying previously disparate treatments of distributivity in the domain of nominal quantifiers. The other line comes from analyzing the meaning of durative adverbials, with special attention to their interaction with cumulative readings. Second, we aim to provide a unified formal semantic framework for the treatment of interactions between verbs and their arguments, most importantly aspect, plurality, and quantification, and to shed light on the way in which thematic arguments are associated with the verb in the lexicon and in the compositional process. Although existing frameworks deal with parts of this picture, no such unified framework exists to date. The theoretical results presented in this proposal include a novel argument in favor of a quantificational analysis of durative adverbials (Dowty, 1979; Moltmann, 1991); a novel account of cumulativity and distributivity that covers both the two-quantifier and three-quantifier case in the nominal domain, including readings prominently discussed by Schein (1993); a reason for severing not only the external, but also the internal argument from the semantics of the verb, in response to Kratzer (1996); and the first event-based semantics for Tree-adjoining grammar (TAG, Joshi et al., 1975).

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Lucas Champollion
New York University

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