Transfers of Meaning

Journal of Semantics 12 (2):109-132 (1995)
‘Transfers of meaning’ are linguistic mechanisms that make it possible to use the same expression to refer to disjoint sorts of things. Here I discuss predicate transfer, an operation that takes names of properties into new names that denote properties to which they functionally correspond. It is this operation that is responsible for the new meaning of the predicate parked out back in the utterance ‘I am parked out back’, as well as for the lexical alternations that figure in systematic polysemy. Predicate transfer is subject to two general conditions, which require that basic and derived property stand in a functional correspondence and that the derived property should be a ‘noteworthy’ feature of its bearer. I argue that by appealing to predicate transfer we can maintain a very strict definition of syntactic indentity, which rules out all cases of ‘sortal crossing’, in which a term appears to refer to things of two sorts at the same time, as in examples like Ringo squeezed himself into a tight space; in such a case, the reflexive is strictly coreferential with its antecedent.
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DOI 10.1093/jos/12.2.109
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