Semantics and Linguistic Theory

Journal Information
EISSN : 2163-5951
Published by: Linguistic Society of America (10.3765)
Total articles ≅ 1,327

Latest articles in this journal

Mathieu Paillé
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 843-860;

While predicates in taxonomies (e.g. colour terms) are interpreted as mutually incompatible, this paper shows that their incompatibility is in many cases not lexical. Rather, it is the result of a previously undescribed exhaustivity effect. What is more, this class of exhaustivity effects displays novel behaviour. Exhaustivity is both obligatory and tightly constrained: at first approximation, any taxonomic predicate must be in the immediate scope of the exhaustivity operator it requires. Taxonomic predicates, in this sense, are argued to "control" exhaustivity.
Margit Bowler, John Gluckman
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 273-293;

The central empirical observation of this paper is that there are polysemous lexical items in a number of unrelated languages that have similar, not intuitively related, meanings. These meanings are 'to arrive'/'to reach,' 'to be enough,' and 'must.' The central theoretical claim of this paper is based on a case study of one such polysemous lexical item in Logoori (Bantu, JE 41; Kenya). We argue that these three meanings all arise from a single semantic denotation that is sensitive to a shared gradable component in the semantics of linguistic expressions referring to spatial paths, gradable predicates, measures of plural count nouns/mass nouns, and modals. The main theoretical issue addressed in this paper is the application of ordered, abstract scales in a model of grammar. This paper is an abridged version of Bowler & Gluckman, to appear.
Julie Goncharov
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 779-800;

In this paper, I argue that content of some presuppositions is determined dynamically. In particular, it is shown that the presupposition of want in control constructions depends on the interpretation of an action in the complement clause. Different presuppositional content of sentences with want is argued for using new and known observations about licensing of Polarity Sensitive Items. I propose to capture the dynamic nature of the presupposition of want using the AGM paradigm for belief revision (Alchourrán, Gärdenfors & Makinson 1985). Finally, I show that sensitivity to the interpretation of an action as intentional versus accidental is not specific to polarity system, but can be found across different domains of the grammar in many unrelated languages.
Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Esmail Moghiseh
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 485-503;

This paper documents a dimension of crosslinguistic variation among Universal Free Choice Items. In English, the distribution and interpretation of any DPs containing a numeral ("numeral any") differs from that of any DPs with no numeral (Dayal 2005, 2013; Chierchia 2013). In contrast, the Farsi counterparts of any and numeral any mirror each other. Two competing analyses of the contrast between any and numeral any are assessed against the Farsi data – the Wide Scope Constraint Analysis (Chierchia 2013) and the Viability Constraint Analysis (Dayal 2013). The paper shows that, with minimal extensions, either analysis can capture the behavior of the Farsi counterpart of numeral any with distributive predicates. The situation changes, however, when the minimally modified analyses are assessed with respect to sentences with collective predicates: the extended Wide Scope Constraint Analysis captures the attested interpretation of those sentences, but the extended Viability Constraint Analysis rules them out, undergenerating.
Paolo Santorio
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 624-644;

We show that Simplification of Disjunctive antecedents is not a scalar inference. The argument exploits information-sensitive modals, like epistemic "probably" and deliberative "ought". When items of this sort are the main modal of a conditional, we can have that: (i) If A or B, Mod C is true; (ii) the basic meaning computed via classical semantics for conditionals and disjunction is false. This combination is impossible on any scalar account of Simplification: scalar inferences are strengthenings, hence the output of scalar inferences must entail the basic meaning of a sentence. We suggest an account of Simplification based on alternative semantics, and show how this account can be made compatible with old and new counterexamples to Simplification.
Gene Louis Kim, Aaron Steven White
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 227-251;

We propose a computational model for inducing full-fledged combinatory categorial grammars from behavioral data. This model contrasts with prior computational models of selection in representing syntactic and semantic types as structured (rather than atomic) objects, enabling direct interpretation of the modeling results relative to standard formal frameworks. We investigate the grammar our model induces when fit to a lexicon-scale acceptability judgment dataset – Mega Acceptability – focusing in particular on the types our model assigns to clausal complements and the predicates that select them.
Shumian Ye
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 355-375;

This study aims to derive the epistemic bias in shi-bu-shi questions, a type of A-not-A question in Mandarin Chinese. I propose: (i) the focus marker shi presupposes that its prejacent is a possible complete answer to the current Question Under Discussion (QUD); (ii) accordingly, shi-bu-shi questions are presupposed to be part of the Focus-strategy of inquiry; (iii) the Focus-strategy of inquiry indicates the questioner's intention to close the current QUD as soon as possible, and to achieve this goal, the questioner should check the answer that she considers most likely to be true. By assuming such completeness-to-likelihood reasoning, a novel link between focus in polar questions and question bias is established. The ramifications of this proposal for related phenomena (e.g., bias in embedded questions, evidential bias) are then discussed.
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 125-145;

The paper presents a novel argument from Hausa (Chadic) for the analysis of counterfactual fake tense in terms of a lexically underspecified EXCL-operator (Iatridou 2000). Evidence comes from the facts (i.) that Hausa has no obligatory inflectional tense marking on the verb; and (ii.) that temporal anteriority and counterfactuality in Hausa are both expressed by a left-peripheral operator element with the segmental shape daa, which is then tonally disambiguated to temporal dâa and counterfactual dàa, respectively. The analysis is cast in von Prince's (2019) modified branching-world model of counterfactuals.
Claudia Maienborn
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 63-82;

The paper presents a novel semantic account of the so-called "intersective/non-intersective" ambiguity of structures such as beautiful dancer. The proposal contrasts with Larson's (1998) famous N-analysis in taking the adjective as the ambiguity trigger and in unmasking the bracketing paradox perception of the non-intersective reading as a grammatical illusion. The adjective has no compositional access to the verbal root's event argument but is always linked to the referential argument of the noun. -er nominals are analyzed as a special kind of role noun (such as king, guest, judge). They introduce a social role r that manifests itself via the verbal root's e-argument. (However, neither r nor e are compositionally active.) An evaluative adjective such as beautiful introduces an underspecified trope variable, which calls for a pragmatic specification of the adjectival predicate's ultimate target. A general pragmatic parsimony condition ensures that referents introduced by linguistic material are chosen as best target candidates whenever possible. The -er nominal's social role r is an ideal choice in this respect. The linking of the adjective to the verbal root's e-argument is mediated via r and thus a secondary pragmatic effect. The proposal provides a unified analysis for modified -er nominals (beautiful dancer) and other instances of role- and event-related interpretations for adnominal modification such as, e.g., just king.
Itai Bassi, Tatiana Bondarenko
Semantics and Linguistic Theory, Volume 30, pp 583-602;

In this paper we compare CP disjunction to TP disjunction and CP conjunction to TP conjunction, and conclude that CPs and TPs do not have identical meanings (cf. similar observations reported in Szabolcsi 1997, 2016; Bjorkman 2013). We argue that this result is incompatible with the view that the CP layer of embedded clauses is semantically vacuous. We propose that the differences between CPs and TPs can be explained under a particular implementation of Kratzer's approach to the semantics of clausal embedding (Kratzer 2006, 2016; Bogal-Allbritten 2016, 2017; Moulton 2009, 2015; Elliott 2017), according to which CPs denote predicates of events whose content equals the embedded proposition.
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