Paycheck Pronouns, Bach-Peters Sentences, and Variable-Free Semantics

Natural Language Semantics 8 (2):77-155 (2000)
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This paper argues for the hypothesis of direct compositionality (as in, e.g., Montague 1974), according to which the combinatory syntactic rules specify a set of well-formed expressions while the semantic combinatory rules work in tandem to directly supply a model-theoretic interpretation to each expression as it is "built" in the syntax. (This thus obviates the need for any level like LF and, concomitantly, for any rules mapping surface structures to such a level.) I focus here on one related group of phenomena: the interaction of "paycheck" pronouns with Weak Crossover effects and i-within-i effects. These interactions were studied in Jacobson (1977) as they show up in Back-Peters sentences. There I argued that these interactions show that paycheck pronouns have a complex representation at LF; here I show that all of the observations in this earlier work are compatible with the hypothesis of direct compositionality. The key tool is the adoption of a variation-free semantics (a semantics which makes no use of variables as part of the semantic machinery). In addition to the general consequences for the syntax/semantics interface, there are two other main results. First, I provide new arguments for a variable-free semantics. For example, it will be shown that under this view the paycheck reading of a pronoun comes for free; most other theories posit additional mechanisms and/or an additional lexical meaning for pronouns, and thus paycheck and regular pronouns are only accidentally homophonous. Second, I reiterate one of the central points in Jacobson (1977): this is that the first pronoun in a Bach-Peters sentence is indeed a paycheck pronoun, and hence nothing special needs to be said about these sentences nor does any new machinery need to be invoked for them



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Citations of this work

Descriptions, pronouns, and uniqueness.Karen S. Lewis - 2022 - Linguistics and Philosophy 45 (3):559-617.
Demonstratives as individual concepts.Paul Elbourne - 2008 - Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (4):409-466.
Anaphora.Jeffrey C. King & Karen S. Lewis - 2016 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
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The Grammar of Quantification.Robert May - 1977 - Dissertation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

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