Bare arguments (BAs) like (1a-c) vary a great deal in distribution. French has virtually none; English freely allows bare plurals and mass nouns in every argument position, but not bare singulars; Hindi or Russian lack articles and allow both bare plurals and bare singulars.
(1) a. Hawks are widespread around here. (Kind-level reference)
b. Hawks eat their preys while flying. (Genericity)
c. I saw hawks repeatedly this morning. (‘Ultra-narrow’ scope vs.
d. I saw a hawk repeatedly this morning. Wide scope weak indefinite)
Looking beyond Indo European at languages with obligatory classifiers (i.e. Classifier Languages - CLs), one finds positionally unrestricted BAs across the board, even in those typologically rare cases where a CL does have determiners (like Nuoso Yi – cf. Jiang 2017). [...]
Under the Grammatical Theory of Scalar Implicatures (GT of SIs), SIs are logical entailments of ambiguous sentences – entailments of grammatical representations containing a (covert) focus sensitive operator, exh. Conceptual and empirical arguments have been presented in favor of GT. GT is consistent with conversational maxims that can be defended on a-priori grounds. By contrast, the pragmatic alternatives require the rejection of basic truisms. In additions, GT is supported on various empirical grounds, among them considerations of modularity/blindness, the interaction between ignorance inferences and SIs, embedded implicatures, and various other areas of grammar in which Exhaustification is a key player (for a review and relevant references, see Chierchia, Fox and Spector 2012, Fox 2014, and Chierchia 2017).
However, the definitions of exh provided in most versions of GT have been suspiciously close to what is derived by Neo-Gricean mechanisms. I will attempt to resolve this conceptual difficulty by a look at the presuppositions of questions. Building on and modifying work of Dayal (1996) I will argue that exh is involved in the statement of these presuppositions and (drawing on recent work with Moshe Bar-Lev) that its definition is quite distinct from what is derived by Neo-Gricean machinery. [...]
The central explanandum of this paper is the universal, as far as I know, inability of true (not expletive) negation to appear in Before-clauses (BC):
(1) * John left the store before Mary did not try the dress
Note, however, that negation in BCs improves in the presence of a modal:
(2) John was happy before I wouldn't talk to him anymore
This contrast suggests that the cause of the deviant status of (1) is not a violation of a fundamentally syntactic principle. Instead, I will propose that the reason is presupposition failure. Informally, a BC carries a presupposition that there exists a unique, contextually salient and identifiable time t such that the relevant event expressed by the BC took place at t. In other words, the presupposition of the BC is identical to that associated with definite descriptions. The natural question that then arises concerns the origin of that presupposition. I will examine two options. [...]
There is a widespread skepticism whether natural language reflects ontology, not at least due to Chomsky's rejection of (external) reference as a notion involved in natural language. At the same time, ontological notions permeate not only semantics, but, in fact, also (generative) syntax. I will argue for an understanding of ontology that allows overcoming the scepticism and permits a new and important research perspective of natural language ontology, as part of both metaphysics and linguistics. [...]
In the copy theory, lower copies must be deleted under identity with a c-commanding copy so that only one copy is realized (Nunes 2004). In this view, remnant movement like (1)a poses a challenge: since some copies bear no c-command relation, we wrongly predict them to be realized, as in (1)b. I argue that there is no copy of the subject DP in the infinitival clause, unlike in (1)b. Instead, there is only a covert Det (THE in (1)c), which allows us to derive the correct word order. Two independently necessary mechanisms create this kind of structure, which in turn explains certain traits found in (1)a. [...]
(1) a. [How likely t1 to win] is [an Austrian]1? (Sauerland and Elbourne (S&E) 2002:297)
b. [[how likely [TP [an Austrian]1 to win]]2 is [TP [an Austrian]1 t2]]
→ *How likely an Austrian to win is an Austrian?
c. [[how likely [TP [THE]1 to win]]2 is [TP [an Austrian]1 t2]]
→ How likely to win is an Austrian?
The “cartographic program” in linguistics has yielded interesting empirical results, e.g., drawing attention to apparently stable orderings among certain types of sentence constituents (attributive adjectives, adverbs, elements of the left periphery, etc.) across a wide range of languages. However cartography’s key technical device in accounting for these distributions - hierarchies of functional heads related by functional selection - is problematic. [...]
Carlson (1983, 2006) argues that functional elements (to be dubbed f-elements) often present mismatches in form and interpretation of the kind lexical elements do not. Carlson points out that there is a learning problem if the learner is supposed to figure out functional meanings from what he/she hears. His solution to the problem is that f-elements themselves are meaningless; functional meanings are carried by features or phonetically null operators that appear on the phrases over which they scope, and their effects percolate down to heads in order to receive expression, in one way or another.
Results in the past decades converge impressively with Carlson’s vision. Consider, for example, the assumption of null operators in Ladusaw 1992 and Zeijlstra 2004 for negative concord, in Beghelli & Stowell 1997 for distributivity, in Kratzer 2005 for existential and other quantifiers, in Kusumoto 2005 for past tense, in Katzir 2011 for poly(-in)definiteness, and so on. There are also variations on that theme. The exhaustifiers EXH in Fox 2007 and O in Chierchia 2013 have syntactic status but no matching f-elements. Still further; the binding combinator “z” in Jacobson 1992 and the abstract negation in Chierchia 2013:235 do not seem to have syntactic status. The disembodied meet and join operations in Szabolcsi 2015 do not have syntactic status; they kick in either by default or to satisfy the presuppositions of overt MO or KA particles. Thus, for the logical scaffolding to be unpronounced or to be even disembodied seems to be the norm. If that is so, careful considerations of compositionality / learnability are called for.
Carlson, G. (1983). Marking constituents. In F. Heny & M. Richards (eds.), Linguistic categories: Auxiliaries and related puzzles I (pp. 69–98). Dordrecht: Reidel.
Carlson, G. (2006). ‘Mismatches’ of form and interpretation. In V. van Geenhoven (ed.), Semantics in acquisition (pp. 19–36). Berlin: de Gruyter.
Many works have contributed to a deeper understanding of why so much diversity exists in the crosslinguistic expression of subjunctive. Yet the universal patterns remain challenging. Dependency has been seen as its hallmark. As a corollary, it is traditionally considered the mood of subordination. However, subjunctive matrix clauses exist and both their structure and interpretation are relevant for its theoretical account. In 1 we outline our proposal for the syntactic derivation of subjunctive concentrating on complement clauses; in 2 we consider main subjunctives, in 3 obviation and its exemptions. We take languages with and without subjunctive morphology on the verb (Portuguese vs. Greek, Bulgarian, Russian). [...]
Both pronominal doubling and overt expletives are often taken to be instantiations of LF/PF-asymmetries: the former involve the double pronunciation of a single (set of) semantic feature(s), while the latter involves the spell-out of a purely formal feature or requirement (the EPP). This paper looks at the combination of these two asymmetries: pronominal doubling of expletive pronouns in Dutch dialects. I argue that in both cases the asymmetry is only apparent: neither the expletive nor the doubling is semantically vacuous. [...]
In Japanese Right Dislocation (JRD) construction, interrogative wh-phrases cannot appear at the right side of the matrix verb, as exemplified in (1). In contrast, Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) such as nani-mo ‘anything’ can appear in the dislocated position as in (2). Since both an interrogative wh-phrase and an NPI have to be syntactically licensed by a Q-particle and a NEG head, respectively, the difference of acceptability requires an explanation. Although three different approaches have been proposed previously for JRD: Clause-External, Clause-Internal, and Bi-clausal (Leftward movement + deletion) Analysis, we cannot provide a satisfactory explanation in syntactic terms under any approach, because the same structural position would be assigned to the dislocated interrogative wh-phrase and the NPI. The answer, therefore, must be found in the semantic/ pragmatic or phonological aspect of the construction. In this paper, assuming that covertly juxtaposed clauses are interpreted independently in the semantic/pragmatic component, we will account for the contrast between (1) and (2) in a unified way under the Bi-Clausal Analysis of JRD constructions. [...]
(1) *John-wa tabemasita ka, nani-o
John-TOP ate.polite Q what-ACC
intended: ‘What did John eat?’
(2) John-wa tabenakatta yo, nani-mo.
John-TOP did not eat PRT anything
‘John didn’t eat anything.’ [...]
Over half of the world’s languages with gender have a system with only feminine and masculine values (Corbett 2006), constituting a ‘semantic core’ corresponding to natural (female/male) gender. Languages also tend to lose grammatical gender for inanimates, and objects lacking natural gender over time (e.g., English, Amharic among others). If grammatical gender is formally coded as an interpretable feature on some (+human/+animate) nouns, and as uninterpretable on others (cf. Kramer 2009, 2015), then the loss of grammatical gender indicates a strong preference for gender interpretability at the semantic interface. In this paper, drawing on both diachronic and synchronic micro-level data from Awadhi (Indic), I argue against a purely interface-driven analysis for gender realization. Gender realization is instead contingent on other concurrent syntax-internal processes. [...]