A fictional text is commonly viewed as constituting an invitation to play a certain game of make-believe, with the individual sentences written by the author providing the propositions we are to imagine and/or accept as true within the fiction. However, we can’t always take the text at face value. What narratologists call ‘unreliable narrators’ may present a confused or misleading picture of the fictional world. Meanwhile there has been a debate in philosophy about so-called ‘imaginative resistance’ in which we are (...) inclined to resist imagining (or even accepting as true in the fiction) what’s explicitly stated in the text. But if we can’t take the text’s word for it, how do we determine what’s true in a fiction? We propose an account of fiction interpretation in a dynamic setting (a version of DRT with a mechanism for opening, updating, and closing temporary ‘workspaces’) and combine this framework with belief revision logic. With these tools in hand we turn to modelling imaginative resistance and unreliable narrators. (shrink)
I argue that free indirect discourse should be analyzed as a species of direct discourse rather than indirect discourse. More specifically, I argue against the emerging consensus among semanticists, who analyze it in terms of context shifting. Instead, I apply the semantic mechanisms of mixed quotation and unquotation to offer an alternative analysis where free indirect discourse is essentially a quotation of an utterance or thought, but with unquoted tenses and pronouns.
Semantics traditionally focuses on linguistic meaning. In recent years, the Super Linguistics movement has tried to broaden the scope of inquiry in various directions, including an extension of semantics to talk about the meaning of pictures. There are close similarities between the interpretation of language and of pictures. Most fundamentally, pictures, like utterances, can be either true or false of a given state of affairs, and hence both express propositions (Zimmermann, 2016; Greenberg, 2013; Abusch, 2015). Moreover, sequences of pictures, like (...) sequences of utterances, can be used to tell stories. Wordless picture books, comics, and film are cases in point. In this paper I pick up the project of providing a dynamic semantic account of pictorial story-telling, started by Abusch (2012) and continued by Abusch & Rooth (2017); Maier & Bimpikou (2019); Fernando (2020). More specifically, I propose here a semantics of speech and thought bubbles by adding event reference to PicDRT. To get there I first review the projection-based semantics for pictures (section 1), noting the fundamental distinction between symbolic and iconic meaning that makes speech bubbles especially interesting (section 2). I then review the dynamic PicDRT framework for pictorial narratives (section 3), add events (section 4), and propose an account of speech bubbles as quotational event modification (section 5). I end with a brief look at other conventional, symbolic enrichments in comics (section 6). (shrink)
Fictional names pose a difficult puzzle for semantics. We can truthfully maintain that Frodo is a hobbit, while at the same time admitting that Frodo does not exist. To reconcile this paradox I propose a way to formalize the interpretation of fiction as ‘prescriptions to imagine’ (Walton 1990) within an asymmetric semantic framework in the style of Kamp (1990). In my proposal, fictional statements are analyzed as dynamic updates on an imagination component of the interpreter’s mental state, while plain assertions (...) are updates on a belief component. Proper names – regular, empty, or fictional – are uniformly analyzed as presupposition triggers. The possibility of different attitude components referentially depending on each other is what ultimately allows us to account for the central paradox mentioned above. (shrink)
This thesis deals with the phenomenon of attitude reporting. More specifically, it provides a unified semantics of de re and de se belief reports. After arguing that de se belief is best thought of as a special case of de re belief, I examine whether we can extend this unification to the realm of belief reports. I show how, despite very promising first steps, previous attempts in this direction ultimately fail with respect to some relatively recent linguistic data involving quantified (...) and infinitival reports, logophoric constructions, and monstrously shifted indexicals. Formalizing my idea of a contextual resolution of acquaintance relations in a dynamic framework, I arrive at an alternative analysis that handles all these data. (shrink)
I provide a novel semantic analysis of proper names and indexicals, combining insights from the competing traditions of referentialism, championed by Kripke and Kaplan, and descriptivism, introduced by Frege and Russell, and more recently resurrected by Geurts and Elbourne, among others. From the referentialist tradition, I borrow the proof that names and indexicals are not synonymous to any definite description but pick their referent from the context directly. From the descriptivist tradition, I take the observation that names, and to some (...) extent indexicals, have uses that are best understood by analogy with anaphora and definite descriptions, that is, following Geurts, in terms of presupposition projection. The hybrid analysis that I propose is couched in Layered Discourse Representation Theory. Proper names and indexicals trigger presuppositions in a dedicated layer, which is semantically interpreted as providing a contextual anchor for the interpretation of the other layers. For the proper resolution of DRSs with layered presuppositions, I add two constraints to van der Sandt's algorithm. The resulting proposal accounts for both the classic philosophical examples and the new linguistic data, preserving a unified account of the preferred rigid interpretation of both names and indexicals, while leaving room for non-referential readings under contextual pressure. (shrink)
We propose an extension of Discourse Respresentation Theory (DRT) for analyzing pictorial narratives. We test drive our PicDRT framework by analyzing the way authors represent characters’ mental states and perception in comics. Our investigation goes beyond Abusch and Rooth (2017) in handling not just free perception sequences, but also a form of apparent perspective blending somewhat reminiscent of free indirect discourse.
Karttunen observes that a presupposition triggered inside an attitude ascription, can be filtered out by a seemingly inaccessible antecedent under the scope of a preceding belief ascription. This poses a major challenge for presupposition theory and the semantics of attitude ascriptions. I solve the problem by enriching the semantics of attitude ascriptions with some independently argued assumptions on the structure and interpretation of mental states. In particular, I propose a DRT-based representation of mental states with a global belief-layer and a (...) variety of labeled attitude compartments embedded within it. Hence, desires and other non-doxastic attitudes are asymmetrically dependent on beliefs. I integrate these mental state representations into a general semantic account of attitude ascriptions which relies on the parasitic nature of non-doxastic attitudes to solve Karttunen’s puzzle. (shrink)
We propose to analyze well-known cases of "imaginative resistance" from the philosophical literature (Gendler, Walton, Weatherson) as involving the inference that particular content should be attributed to either: (i) a character rather than the narrator or, (ii) an unreliable, irrational, opinionated, and/or morally deviant "first person" narrator who was originally perceived to be a typical impersonal, omniscient, "effaced" narrator. We model the latter type of attribution in terms of two independently motivated linguistic mechanisms: accommodation of a discourse referent (Lewis, Stalnaker, (...) Kamp) and 'cautious' updating as a model of non-cooperative information exchange (Eckardt). (shrink)
This paper deals with the semantics of de dicto , de re and de se belief reports. First, I flesh out in some detail the established, classical theories that assume syntactic distinctions between all three types of reports. I then propose a new, unified analysis, based on two ideas discarded by the classical theory. These are: (i) modeling the de re/de dicto distinction as a difference in scope, and (ii) analyzing de se as merely a special case of relational de (...) re attitudes. The resurrection of these ideas takes place in a dynamic setting. My formalization of the first idea involves a modification of the presupposition-as-anaphora resolution algorithm for DRT. The second involves treating acquaintance relations as second-order presuppositions, to be bound in the context by means of higher-order unification, or accommodated if necessary. The resulting framework requires no syntactic distinctions between different modes of attitude, with the exception of a specific subclass of de se reports characterized by special ‘ de se pronouns’ (i.e. PRO and logophors). These special pronouns are handled in syntax; everything alse is passed on to the pragmatic resolution module as it appears on the surface. The more sophisticated contextual resolution process nonetheless ensures adequate output truth conditions for a variety of classical and novel puzzles. In particular, I compare the new pragmasemantic system to the classical, syntactic analysis with respect to iterated and quantified reports, and monstrously shifted indexicals. (shrink)
The communication of de se attitudes poses a problem for “participant- neutral” analyses of communication in terms of propositions expressed or proposed updates to the common ground: when you tell me “I am an idiot”, you express a first person de se attitude, but as a result I form a different, second person attitude, viz. that you are an idiot. I argue that when we take seriously the asymmetry between speaker and hearer in semantics this problem disappears. To prove this (...) I propose a concrete model of communication as the transmission of information from the speaker’s mental state to the hearer’s. My analysis is couched in Discourse Representation Theory, a formal semantic framework that linguists use for modeling conversational common ground updates, but that can also be applied to describe the individual speech participants’ dynamically changing mental states. (shrink)
The phenomenon of mixed quotation exhibits clear signs of both the apparent transparency of compositional language use and the opacity of pure quotation. I argue that the interpretation of a mixed quotation in- volves the resolution of a metalinguistic presupposition. The leading idea behind my proposal is that a mixed-quoted expression, say, “has an anomalous feature”, means what x referred to with the words ‘has an anomalous feature’. To understand how this solves the paradox, I set up a precise grammatical (...) framework, explicitly connecting various levels of linguistic analysis: phonological forms, categorial syntax, and a dynamic picture of the semantics–pragmatics interface. In this framework I formalize and evaluate a presuppositional account of mixed quotation. Finally, I address the phenomenon of unquotation and argue that it is an essential ingredient for empirically adequate analysis of mixed quotation in natural language. (shrink)
A number of puzzles about propositional attitudes in semantics and philosophy revolve around apparent referential dependencies between different attitudes within a single agent’s mental state. In a series of papers, Hans Kamp offers a general framework for describing such interconnected attitude complexes, building on DRT and dynamic semantics. I demonstrate that Kamp’s proposal cannot deal with referential dependencies between semantically conflicting attitudes, such as those in Ninan’s puzzle about de re imagination. To solve the problem I propose to replace Kamp’s (...) treatment of attitudes as context change potentials with a two-dimensional analysis. (shrink)
Inspired by Schlenker's (2003) seminal 'Plea for Monsters', linguists have been analyzing every occurrence of a shifted indexical by postulating a monstrous operator. My aim in this paper is to show that Kaplan's (1989) original strategy of explaining apparent shifting in terms of a quotational use/mention distinction offers a much more intuitive, parsimonious and empirically superior analysis of many of these phenomena, including direct--indirect switches in Ancient Greek, role shift in signed languages, free indirect discourse in literary narratives, and mixed (...) quotation. Format: . (shrink)
It appears that in mixed quotations like the following, the quoted expression is used and mentioned at the same time: (1) George says Tony is his ``bestest friend''. Most theories seek to account for this observation by assuming that mixed quotations operate at two levels of content at once. In contradistinction to such two-dimensional theories, we propose that quotation involves just a single level of content. Quotation always produces a change in meaning of the quoted expression, and if the quotation (...) is mixed the shift is, to a first approximation at least, from '...' to ``what x calls '...''', where x is a variable whose value is determined by the context. We argue that quotation is generally context dependent in various ways, and that some of these ways are presuppositional in nature; we present a detailed analysis of the presuppositions in question. (shrink)
Lying and fiction both involve the deliberate production of statements that fail to obey Grice’s first Maxim of Quality (“do not say what you believe to be false”). The question thus arises if we can provide a uniform analysis for fiction and lies. In this chapter I discuss the similarities, but also some fundamental differences between lying and fiction. I argue that there’s little hope for a satisfying account within a traditional truth conditional semantic framework. Rather than immediately moving to (...) a fully pragmatic analysis involving distinct speech acts of fiction-making and lying, I will first explore how far we get with the assumption that both are simply assertions, analyzed in a Stalnakerian framework, i.e. as proposals to update the common ground. (shrink)
The quotational theory of free indirect discourse postulates that pronouns and tenses are systematically unquoted. But where does this unquotation come from? Based on cases of apparent unquotation in direct discourse constructions (including data from Kwaza speakers, Catalan signers, and Dutch children), I suggest a general pragmatic answer: unquotation is essentially a way to resolve a conflict that arises between two opposing constraints. On the one hand, the reporter wants to use indexicals that refer directly to the most salient speech (...) act participants and their surroundings (Attraction). On the other hand, the semantics of direct discourse (formalized here in terms of event modification) entails the reproduction of referring expressions from the original utterance being reported (Verbatim). Unquotation (formalized here also in terms of event modification), allows the reporter to avoid potential conflicts between these constraints. Unquotation in free indirect discourse then comes out as a special case, where the salient source of attraction is the story protagonist and her actions, rather than the reporting narrator and his here and now. (shrink)
Linguistics and philosophy have provided distinct views on the nature of reference to individuals in language. In philosophy, in particular in the tradition of direct reference, the distinction is between reference and description. In linguistics, in particular in the tradition of generative grammar, the distinction is between pronouns and R-expressions. I argue for a third conception, grounded in dynamic semantics, in which the main watershed is between definites, which trigger presuppositions that want to be bound, and indefinites, which set up (...) new discourse referents. On this view, proper names, indexicals, and definite descriptions are all analyzed as presupposition triggers. (shrink)
In ancient Greek the line between direct and indirect discourse appears blurred. In this essay I examine the tendency of Greek writers to slip from indirect into direct speech. I explain the apparent difference between modern English and ancient Greek speech reporting in terms of a development from orality to literacy.
I present a concrete DRT-based syntax and semantics for the representation of mental states in the style of Kamp. This system is closely related to Recanati’s Mental Files framework, but adds a crucial distinction between anchors, the analogues of mental files, and attitudes like belief, desire and imagination. Attitudes are represented as separate compartments that can be referentially dependent on anchors. I show how the added distinctions help defend the useful notion of an acquaintance-based mental file against Ninan’s :368–377 2015) (...) recent challenge involving counterfactual de re attitudes. (shrink)
In this paper I present a linguistic investigation of the literary style known as free indirect discourse within the framework of formal semantics. I will argue that a semantics for free indirect discourse involves more than a mechanism for the independent context shifting of pronouns and other deictic elements. My argumentation is fueled by literary examples of free indirect discourse involving what I call language shifts: -/- Most of the great flame-throwers were there and naturally, handling Big John de Conquer (...) and his works. How he had done everything big on earth, then went up tuh heben without dying atall. Went up there picking a guitar and got all de angels doing the ring-shout round and round de throne...that brought them back to Tea Cake. How come he couldn’t hit that box a lick or two? (Hurston 1937, Their Eyes Were Watching God) -/- Free indirect discourse combines elements of both, but it seems decidedly closer to direct discourse. I examine the reigning semantic analysis of free indirect discourse, a variant of the demonstrative account of direct discourse featuring “double context dependence” (Banfield 1982,Schlenker 2004). After showing that this type of account has fundamental difficulties with language shift data like (1), I close with a brief sketch of an alternative analysis based on “mixed quotation.”. (shrink)
Pure quotation, as in ‘cat’ has three letters, is a linguistic device designed for referring to linguistic expressions. I present a uniform recon struction of the four classic philosophical accounts of the phenomenon: the proper name theory, the description theory, the demonstrative theory, and the disquotational theory. I evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each proposal with respect to fundamental semantic properties like compositionality, productivity, and recursivity.
Quotation exhibits characteristics of both use and mention. I argue against the recently popular pragmatic reductions of quotation to mere language use (Recanati 2001), and in favor of a truly hybrid account synthesizing and extending Potts (2007) and Geurts and Maier (2005), using a mention logic and a dynamic semantics with presupposition to establish a context-driven meaning shift. The main advantages are an account of error neutralization and shifted indexicality under quotation. The current paper addresses the problematic data involving quoted (...) non-constituents. (shrink)
Mixed quotation exhibits characteristics of both mention and use. Some even go so far as to claim it can be described wholly in terms of the pragmatics of language use. Thus, it may be argued that the observed shifting of indexicals under all quotation shows that a monstrous operator is involved. I will argue the opposite: a proper semantic account of quotation can be used to exorcize Schlenker's monsters from semantic theory.
This paper contributes to two debates: (i) the debate about whether or not ancient Greek has Free Indirect Discourse (FID), and (ii) the debate about how we should analyze FID semantically. We do this by showing that there is a distinction between FID and what we call Unembedded Indirect Discourse (UID). The semantic analysis that we develop for the latter shows that the two phenomena, though superficially similar, are semantically fundamentally different. We conclude that UID would have been more deserving (...) of the title ‘free indirect discourse’ than the more quotative and direct discourse-like narrative technique that is now confusingly called so. 1. (shrink)
Shows that both anaphoricity and egocentric de se binding play a crucial role in the interpretation of tense in discourse. Uses the English backwards shifted reading of the past tense in a mistaken time scenario to bring out the tension between these two features. Provides a suitable representational framework for the observed clash in the form of an extension of DRT in which updates of the common ground are accompanied by updates of each relevant agent's complex attitudinal state.
The information conveyed by any utterance is a motley ensemble. Utterances carry content about the world as it is according to the speaker, but also about speakers’ attitudes, the way they speak, what has been said before, and so on. There are many kinds of information that are conveyed by way of language, and diﬀerences in kind correlate with diﬀerences in status. Presupposed information exhibits a distinctive projection behaviour; conversational implicatures are cancellable in a way that asserted information is not; (...) a pronoun’s gender may help to determine a referent, but is otherwise truth-conditionally inert; and so on. (shrink)
It is rather uncontroversial that there are different ways to report de se attitudes, but there is still disagreement about the number and the nature of the different mechanisms at work. Following Anand (2006), I distinguish three types of de se reporting: one a special case of de re, another expressed by shifted indexicals, and a third expressed by dedicated de se pronouns. For the first two I propose reductions to de re and de dicto reporting, respectively, couched in a (...) dynamic framework where presupposition resolution takes center stage. For the third, I part ways with all current proposals in offering what is essentially a de re analysis of dedicated de se pronouns. I motivate this radical departure with examples of de se pronouns binding de re reflexives, as recently brought into the spotlights by Charlow (2010) and Sharvit (2010). (shrink)
Quotation exhibits characteristics of both use and mention. I argue against the recently popular pragmatic reductions of quotation to mere language use (e.g. Recanati 2001), and in favor of a truly hybrid account synthesizing and extending Potts (2007) and Geurts & Maier (2005), using a mention logic and a dynamic semantics with presupposition to establish a context-driven meaning shift. The current paper explores a `quotebreaking' extension to solve the problems posed by non-constituent quotation, and anaphora, ellipsis and quantifier raising across (...) quotation marks. (shrink)
Since Kripke introduced rigid designation as an alternative to the Frege/Russell analysis of referential terms as definite descriptions, there has been an ongoing debate between 'descriptivists' and 'referentialists', mostly focusing on the semantics of proper names. Nowadays descriptivists can draw on a much richer set of linguistic data (including bound and accommodated proper names in discourse) as well as new semantic machinery (E-type syntax/semantics, DRT, presupposition-as-anaphora) to strengthen their case. After reviewing the current state of the debate, I argue for (...) a referentialist semantics that incorporates some modern insights from the side of the descriptivists in order to account for the new data in a principled fashion. (shrink)
English direct discourse is easily recognized by e.g. the lack of a complementizer, the quotation marks (or the intonational contour they induce), and verbatim (`shifted') pronouns. Japanese employs the same complementizer for all reports, does not have a consistent intonational quotation marking, and tends to drop pronouns where possible. Some have argued that this just shows many Japanese reports are ambiguous: despite the lack of explicit marking, the underlying distinction is just as hard. On the basis of a number of (...) `mixed' examples, I claim that the line between direct and indirect is blurred and I propose a unified analysis of speech reporting in which a general mechanism of mixed quotation replaces the classical two-fold distinction. (shrink)
We argue that contrastive statements have the same underlying semantics and affect the context in the same way as denials. We substantiate this claim by giving a unified account of the two phenomena that treats contrast as a subtype of denial. This analysis crucially requires a dynamic semantics view of context-dependence with a multi-dimensional representation of information.
Chierchia (1989) and others have used the contrast between George hopes that he will win and Georges hopes to win in mistaken-self-identity scenarios, to argue for dedicated de se LFs. The argument, further strengthened by evidence of shiftable indexicals, appears applicable against any reductionist account that sees de se as merely a particular subtype of de re. My Acquaintance Resolution framework is an attempt at such a reduction, and this paper seeks to extend that theory with a logical principle of (...) introspection for belief, to account for the data within a unified treatment of de re and de se. (shrink)
The central characteristic of denials is that they perform a non-monotonic correction operation on discourse structure. A second characteristic is that they may be used to object to various kinds of information including presuppositions and implicatures. In this paper we first use standard DRT to capture these features, implement an earlier proposal of van der Sandt (1991) in DRT and point out a shortcoming of that approach. We then adopt Layered DRT. LDRT is an extension of standard DRT designed to (...) represent and interpret different types of information conveyed in a conversation by distributing them over separate layers of the same LDRS. We will then show how LDRT allows us to solve the problems of the classic monostratal system. The resulting system makes use of a directed reverse anaphora mechanism to locate, remove and negate the material objected to. (shrink)
Percus & Sauerland (2003) use quantified belief reports of the form 'Only Peter thinks he's...' to argue for dedicated de se LFs. The argument is targeted against any reductionist account that sees de se as merely a particular subtype of de re, viz. a de re belief about oneself from a first person perspective, requiring nothing but an account of de re attitudes. My acquaintance resolution framework is an attempt at just such a reduction and in this paper I extend (...) that theory with a projection mechanism to allow local accommodation of acquaintance relations. With this extension we can account for their data, as well as for some related data involving quantified belief reports familiar from arguments in the de se literature. Note: the embedded video of Peter's mistaken self-identity is urlhttp://ncs.ruhosting.nl/emar/dese.mpgavailable in .mpg here. (shrink)
This paper proposes a way of semantically representing de re belief ascriptions that involves contextual resolution of the acquaintance relation between the attitude holder and the object about which the attitude is de re. A special case is that where the belief is about the believer herself. Here, we may discern two possibilities: the acquaintance relation is equality, in which case we end up with a de se belief, or, if the first option fails, we search the context for a (...) different suitable relation of acquaintance between the believer and herself, like looking in a mirror or seeing yourself on TV. This second option leaves open the possibility that the believer herself is unaware of the fact that she's actually seeing herself, thereby accounting for the true reading (de re/non-de se) of ``Lain believes she will win'' in mistaken identity scenarios. To implement all this formally, I use a two-dimensionally modal extension of DRT, and second order binding and unification. (shrink)
I show how, contrary to recent claims, so-called embedded imperatives are better analyzed in terms of mixed quotation. To this end I extend the presuppositional analysis of mixed quotation to include quotations of constructions.
In this paper we defend a rather traditional view of pronouns that is based on the fundamental opposition between reference and anaphora: local pronouns are referential, like names and other indexicals, while third person proouns are anaphoric. We argue against the grammatical classification based on the opposition between pronouns and R-expressions: all pronouns, but not names and other indexicals, are systematically ambiguous between a bound-variable and a referential reading. More specifically we aim to defuse Kratzer's recent argumentation aimed at establishing (...) that local pronouns indeed allow both referential and bound interpretations. We then present an alternative pragmasemantic analysis of Kratzer's and our own data that is fully in line with the traditional analysis of local pronouns and other indexicals as purely referential expressions. (shrink)
We present a unified treatment of contrast and denial as slightly different instantiations of the same discourse schema. Both denial and contrast are analysed as involving a revision operation, what sets them apart is merely the type of information being retracted. The formal analysis requires a representational framework that separates different types of information and is therefore implemented in Layered DRT. One of our selling points is the account of the uses of rectification vs. contrastive particles (like German sondern/aber) we (...) get for free with our unification. (shrink)
Argues that the first person pronoun is always directly referential, against more recent findings of Heim (1991,2008), Kratzer (1998,2008) and others. Shows how purported evidence of syntactically bound or `fake' indexical I, involving sloppy ellipsis and only, and de se attitude reporting can be reconciled with a strict Kaplanian semantics. Proposes alternative treatments of these phenomena that bypass the syntactic LF level, going straight from surface to semantics/pragmatics.