Fall 2012

Friday September 7, 16.00 - 17.30, Wang Lu
Sentence Scheme:An approach to analysis of language based on Frege

Friday September 14, 16.00 - 17.30, Markus Werning
Quotation as marked referential imitation: A compositional analysis of an allegedly opaque phenomenon

According to the received view, quotations are regarded as paradigmatically opaque contexts. Most theories of quotation focus on the opaque features of quotation and try to explain them. The non-compositionality of quotation is often assumed quasi as an axiom for any analysis of quotation. However, many cases of quotation have transparent features as well. Moreover, opacity is a semantic anomaly and ought to discomfort any semanticist. Contrary to the received view, I will argue that the appearance of opacity results from neglecting the fact that quotation is a means of reference to surface expressions by - what I call - marked referential phonological or more
generally subsymbolic imitation. I will show that it is possible to give a radically transparent semantics of quotation that is formally explicit, allows for the proof of compositionality and explains virtually all of the data, i.e. (i) the allegedly opaque aspects of quotation, (ii) the transparent aspects of quotation, (iii) the relevance of phonology to quotation, and (iv) many other interesting phenomena.

Friday September 28,
16.00 - 17.30, Wang Lu, Discussions about 'Being' in China in the past twenty years

Friday October 12, 16.00 - 17.30, Bob van Tiel
Scalar alternatives

Scalar implicatures are derived by reasoning about sentences the speaker could have used, so-called "alternatives". According to Horn (1989), the selection of alternatives is constrained by the monotonicity properties of scalar terms. Katzir (2007) criticizes this account and argues that the selection of alternatives is determined by their structural complexity. I argue that both proposals are ultimately flawed. The selection of alternatives involves two distinct problems:
  i. Symmetry: Some sentences are never involved in the computation of a scalar implicature.
  ii. Availability: Some sentences are only involved in the computation of a scalar implicature if they are made sufficiently salient.
I propose a solution to the symmetry problem based on van Kuppevelt’s (1996) notion of coherence. Alternatives are possible answers to the same question under discussion as the one evoked by the actual utterance. The adequacy of this approach depends on a careful distinction between implicatures that involve alternatives and implicatures that do not. The availability problem falls outside the purview of any grammatical account, whether it is based on monotonicity, structural complexity, or coherence.

Friday November 9, 16.00 - 17.30, Jakub Dotlacil
The incremental interpretation of sentence-internal "same" (joint work with Adrian Brasoveanu)

There is a long tradition in semantic research of studying the meaning of adjectives of comparison like "same" and "different". In this talk, I present novel data regarding sentence-internal "same" (i.e., "same" whose anaphoric requirement is satisfied due to the presence of a plural licensor, as in "the boys liked the same movie", Carlson 1987). I discuss word-by-word incremental interpretation of sentences with sentence-internal "same" and four licensors (all, each, every and the) in two orders: licensor+same (surface scope) and same+licensor (inverse scope), using two methodologies, self-paced reading and eye-tracking task. I show how such a study can enhance our understanding of meaning, in this particular case, it can provide evidence that sentence-internal "same" is ambiguous in much the same way that sentence-internal "different" has been argued to be. Besides, I argue that the study reveals an argument for a model-oriented view of the processing cost of inverse scope: the inverse scope of quantifiers seems to be costly because of model structure reanalysis, not because of scope operations. Finally, I discuss the analysis of "same" supported by the processing data and cast in Plural Compositional DRT.

Friday November 30, 16.00 - 17.30, Leon Horsten (Bristol) Location: room C1.112 at the Science Park

Absolute Infinity

The talk is concerned with reflection principles in the context of Cantor's conception of the set theoretic universe. We argue that within a Cantorian conception of the set theoretic universe treflaction principles can be formulated that confer intrinsic plausibility to strong axioms of infinity. (joint work with Philip Welch)