For current semantic
interpretation of Hungarian identificational/exhaustive focus and
'only' is problematic, as in classical semantic analyses 'only' is
identified with an exhaustivity operator. This view cannot be applied
to Hungarian exhaustive focus. The main aim of my talk is to point out
several problems with the semantic analysis of Hungarian focus
structure and 'only'. For focused constituents there is a special
structural position in Hungarian, which is obligatorily pre-verbal, and
the elements in this position are always interpreted exhaustively.
'Only' in Hungarian stands together with this exhaustive focus. This
suggests that 'only' is not responsible for the exhaustive meaning, but
it has a pragmatic function to cancel the hearer's expectation. Next to
this we will discuss possible interpretations of Hungarian sentences
containing multiple prosodic foci: complex focus versus double focus.
My claim is that in order to interpret multiple foci (in Hungarian) we
have to take into consideration the occurrence of 'only', the
intonation patterns and the syntactic structure as well.
In this talk, I investigate
of basing logic on cooperative information exchange instead of on valid
reasoning. To this end, I introduce a simple dialogue game of
interrogation. Relative to a minimal logical query-language
suitable for the game, and a semantic interpretation for that language
in terms of information change potential, I define a logical
notion of pertinence, which enables us to arbitrate whether the game is
played according to the rules. The elements of
pertinence---contextual consistency, non-entailment, and
licensing---correspond to elements of the Gricean Cooperative
Principle: the maxims of Quality, Quantity and Relation. The main
novelty is the introduction of the logical notion of licensing, by
which we can judge whether an utterance is contextually relevant. The
relation between questions and answers is treated as a special instance
of contextual licensing. The potential use of the logic of
interrogation in natural language semantics, is illustrated by
discussing some linguistic examples, which exhibit phenomena which are
inherently related to the communicative function of language.
In my talk, I deal with systematic issues of building possible-world frameworks and epistemological issues relating to the reference of proper names. Using examples mainly from Kripke’s, Lewis’s, and Stalnaker’s work, I focus on issues related to setting up a possible-world framework, that is, various kinds of necessity, essentialism, and their epistemological plausibility. Using reference of proper names to illustrate my points, I defend direct reference and highlight the relation between rigid designation and Kripke-style essentialism. In the second part of the talk, I present a way of setting up possible-world frameworks that does not assume epistemologically troublesome forms of essentialism and yet preserves direct reference. This proposal rests on Stalnaker-inspired notion of context-dependence. Finally, I try to answer some issues that arise in connection with cross-contextual reference.a
Ancient Greek has a very rich
aspectual system. In almost all verb forms (indicative, optative,
conjunctive, imperative, participle, infinitive) it has separate forms
for the Aorist and for the Imperfect. In this talk I apply insights
from research in formal semantics to the Ancient Greek aspectual
system. In particular, I investigate the question whether it is
necessary to assume the existence of all the "special meanings" or
"special uses" of the Imperfect and the Aorist that the traditional
descriptive grammars distinguish.
I will give the outline of what a compositional theory of aspect in DRT may look like. De Swart (1998) takes the first important steps towards a DRT-implementation of a compositional theory of aspect in English and French. Although there are close similarities between the French Imparfait and Passé Simple on the one hand, and the Ancient Greek Imperfect and Aorist on the other hand, I argue that de Swart's analysis for French cannot hold for Ancient Greek.
In this study I account for
variation patterns found in the expression and interpretation of
eventualities within the scope of a quantifying adverb (QA) in complex
temporal sentences with when-temporal adjunct clauses in Polish,
Russian and Czech. Eckert (1984, 1985) and Dickey (2000) observe that
Czech encodes frequentative meaning solely through QA, while Russian
marks all eventualities within the scope of QA with the imperfective
viewpoint (regardless of aspectual type and contingency relations
holding between subsequent eventualities). I observe that Polish shows
variation in the expression of diaphasic eventualities in quantified
when-clauses and that it patterns with Russian in expressing of
quantified eventualities in main clauses. My goal is to demonstrate
that variation, including preferences in expression and interpretation,
arises from the interaction of ranked violable constraints, and that
Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 1993) offers new insights in
cross-linguistic and intralinguistic variation.
Formal semanticists are concerned with looking for the most elegant and exact representation of the meaning of questions. But how do we identify questions in the first place, given the presupposed existence of noninterrogative questions, e.g., in English? In other words, what do we mean when we say something is (not) a question? The answer turns out to be nontrivial. I will present results of an experiment on question identification in which the 'continuum hypothesis' was tested (= the difference between assertions and questions is gradient and not categorical) and discarded. Subsequently, I will offer a pragmatic explanation for the differences found in subjects' responses, including why some judges considered imperatives to be questions, and present a hopefully conceptually clearer taxonomy.
Imperative constructions have
regained the interest of formal semanticists. In this talk, I will look
at the puzzle of pseudo-imperatives (or conditional imperatives), that
is, mixed mood sentences of the following kind:
(1) a. Eat that and you'll die!
b. Take your medicine or you'll be sick!
In the first part, I will present the problems encountered with these sentences and discuss some of the recent proposals to solve them. I will then argue that a simple semantics of imperatives in terms of to-do lists should suffice to account for most of the problems (I will use a simplified version of Mastop's update semantics for imperatives).
In the second part, I will present a typological investigation of the pseudo-imperative construction. I will explain the method followed (and its limitations) and finally, I will discuss the results obtained so far and their consequences for the semantic analysis. The primary goal is to illustrate the usefulness of the typological approach in the study of semantics (i.e. to test semantic formalizations and sharpen language specific analysis).
Possible-worlds semantics (PWS) reaches a well-known impasse as it attempts to interpret expressions that have the same intension yet differ in meaning. To overcome this impasse, PWS is routinely supplemented with structural theories of meaning. According to these theories, the meaning of an expression e is not just its intension e', but rather a structure of intensions--say, a tree--that reflects the way in which e' was built, compositionally, from simpler intensions.
It is generally agreed that structural theories of meaning are strong enough to carry PWS over the wall of nonsynonymous cointensionals. It thus comes as a surprise that considerations of simplicity did not lead us to ask whether structural theories of meaning were not strong enough to carry all of the weight PWS lifted--or whether structural theories of meaning could not supplant rather than supplement PWS. This is the question I will address in this talk.
To do so I develop a purely extensional structural theory (PEST) of meaning. According to this PEST, the meaning of an expression e is not just its extension e', but rather a structure of extensions (say, a tree) that reflects the way in which e' was built, compositionally, from simpler extensions. I then show that, coupled with independently-motivated proof-theoretic interpretations of modality and counterfactuals, PESTs can afford satisfying solutions to the problems that drove extensional semantics into the ground--and can do so, of course, without appealing to the vast intractable ontology of possible worlds.
The talk closes with replies to plausible objections that might be levelled against PESTs. For, morphosyntactic structure underdetermines meaning. And overdetermines it as well. Even more fundamentally, like all structural theories of meaning, PESTs clash with the set-theoretic Axiom of Well-Foundedness.
In this talk, I discuss one of the most controversial element in Chinese linguistics: dou, which is typically glossed as "all". I discuss data with dou and free choice items. I will depart from the main stream proposal on Dou, and argue that dou is not a distributive operator. Rather, it is a maximality operator, similar to a definite determiner. I further show that dou performs the same function as a definite determiner in Greek, Basque, and Salish in that it restricts the contextual domain for quantification. I then discuss the consequence of this proposal, since dou is not generated inside the DP, rather it is external to the VP.
It would be an understatement to call a compositional account for English counterfactual conditionals a `challenge'. One of the main puzzles that have to be solved on the way to such an approach is the presence of the simple past or past perfect in counterfactuals. These morphological markings do not seem to bear their ordinary meaning in these sentences. In this talk I will discuss the question whether there is a semantical motivation for a true past reference in counterfactuals.