In this paper we propose a semantic analysis of sentences of the form "In fiction x, p" based on this picture of context. We argue that the derived contexts for sentences in the scope of "In fiction X" are determined by three factors: what the beliefs of the author are taken to be, the conventions established for the fiction, and a defeasible presumption of reliability of the narrator. We develop a formal implementation based on the notion of a system of (...) spheres centered on a set of worlds. (edited). (shrink)
is accounted for, among other things, in terms of particular relations between events (or states1) and places or times. Roughly speaking, an event α is said to occur in a place p (or interval t) if the spatial (temporal) extension of α is located in p (or t). Let the predicate ‘Occ’ denote such a relation. From this point of view, part of the content of the above sentences can be associated, respectively, with formulas such as.
We propose an analysis ofonly in terms of event semantics. This approach allows a unified treatment of a wide range of cases in whichonly is associated with focused expressions of different categories. Section 1 is devoted to a preliminary discussion of some problems that a good analysis ofonly should solve. In section 2 we concentrate on sentences in which the focused expression is a NP. In section 3 we show how our analysis can be extended to other categories. Finally, section (...) 4 contains some remarks on related topics, such as scalarity and exhaustiveness. (shrink)
According to the actualist view, what is essential in the truth conditions of a future-tensed sentence of type ‘it will be the case that ϕ’ is the reference to the unique course of events that will become actual. On the other hand, the modal view has it that the truth conditions of such a sentence require the truth of ϕ being already “settled” at the time of utterance, where “being settled” is defined by universal quantification over a domain of courses (...) of events, the futures compatible with what has happened up to the time of utterance. On the proposal we discuss in this paper, actualism and modalism are seen as two related attitudes that speakers can have when evaluating future-tensed sentences, and the corresponding interpretations undergo a unified semantic treatment based on a contextual notion of settledness. A central feature of our approach is a dynamic view of contexts of utterance, according to which the world of the utterance is not fixed once and for all, as different worlds, by the passing of time, can play this role in turn. Finally, one major goal of the paper is to show how the unified analysis we propose accounts for a particularly interesting interpretation of futuretensed sentences, often referred to as ‘epistemic reading’. (shrink)
Since there are independent reasons for associating the habitual reading of the imperfective, in Italian, to a logical form based on universal or generic quantification, the purpose of Part I is to see how this kind of semantical structure accounts for another important interpretation of the imperfective: the progressive reading. And since in some particular cases the imperfective can also have a marginal interpretation which can be assimilated to a perfective effect (it is the so-called “narrative” reading), a further problem (...) is how to provide a reasonable explanation for this phenomenon too. If one considers the co-occurrence of the imperfective with different event predicates (in particular, accomplishments and achievements) it is possible to show that, with some minimal assumptions, the theoretical framework under discussion correctly predicts the following facts, which represent a crucial, but puzzling, characteristic of the imperfective in Italian: (i) activities allow for the progressive reading of the imperfective, but not the “narrative” reading; (ii) with achievements we have the opposite situation; (iii) accomplishments are compatible with both these readings. From this point of view, the semantic properties of the progressive reading of the imperfective are quite distinct from those of the perifrasi progressiva, which is the specialized form used in Italian to express the progressive meaning. Part II, which addresses the issue of the intensional character of both forms of the progressive, is more problematic, in the sense that it takes into consideration a possible extension of the theoretical framework presented in Part I. First of all I discuss some examples which clearly show that the perifrasi progressiva calls for some sort of “branching” representation of time, for it crucially refers to future courses of events which are not realized in the real world. On the other hand, since similar examples can be found in the case of the progressive reading of the imperfective, the main problem is represented by the fact that the kind of logical form under discussion is not completely adequate to account for such intensional phenomena.. (shrink)
unified treatment of both (families of) interpretations is based on a revised notion of settledness. The main features of this approach are the following: (i) in branching structures, a world can be represented not by a single course of events, but by a node u in the tree, where u itself is seen as the cluster of courses of events passing through it; (ii) the utterance time is uniquely fixed; (iii) the utterance world is not uniquely fixed; (iv) because of (...) (iii), an utterance-event is associated not to a single context, but to a plurality of contexts, depending on which world we are considering as the utterance world. As a consequence, if a future-tensed sentence φ is uttered at u and its truth (falsehood) is already a settled issue at u itself, then the sentence is true (false) at u; otherwise the sentence is neither true nor false at u and, to get a definite truth value, we must wait until settledness is reached in a different context. Since what is crucial, in both cases, is the reference to a given state of information, such a treatment can be extended to other intriguing uses of the future tense, starting from the epistemic reading. These uses will be topic of a related paper. (shrink)
The aim of this paper1 is to provide a unified semantic analysis for three important readings of the Italian Imperfetto (and Presente): the PROGressive, the HABitual, and the FUTurate reading. To highlight the role of the utterance context in setting the relevant parameters of interpretation, explicit temporal adverbials are left out of the scene and prominence is given to the situations where the context provides the temporal information required to discriminate between alternative readings, by exploiting a single logical form. The (...) paper is organized as follows. After a short presentation of the data (sect. 1), in the second section I discuss some intuitive features of imperfectivity by focusing on the fact that the conclusion of an event or series of events is left open. This indeterminacy with respect to a given perspective point is formalized in the third section of the paper by resorting to a branching time model. In the third section a unitary treatment (based on the derivation of a single logical form) is proposed for the three main readings of tenses such as the Presente and the Imperfetto and for an intriguing side effect that, in some particular circumstances, makes a "perfective" reading possible. Since the context has a key role in this reconstruction of imperfectivity, the last section of the paper is devoted to the consideration of the temporal parameters to which the evaluation of an utterance is relativized. (shrink)
The following paper deals with the notion of existence, especially as concerns natural languages. In Section 1, starting from some quite obvious examples drawn from logic, I sketch the problem of the existential presupposition usually ascribed to noun phrases. My opinion is that the point of view frequently adopted in this case is unduly restrictive, for the existence which is believed to be presupposed here is actual existence. Accordingly, I emphasize the need for having a weaker notion of existential presupposition, (...) such that the existence (if this word can still be used) here referred to is relevant only to linguistic goals. Section 2 sketches this notion, by assimilating existence (in the weak sense) to identification in a linguistic space. (I deal here only with intuitive considerations: a more formal account will be given, I hope, in another paper.) Finally, in Section 3, the notion of actual existence is examined by contrast with the linguistic (or weak) notion of existence: and this is a question which of course can't be tackled in terms of a purely linguistic analysis, for it needs a general, epistemo-logical approach. (shrink)