Topic: HUMAN SEMANTICS
QUANTIFICATION, ASPECT AND LEXICON
By Hana Filip
Source: Semantics Archive
Languages differ in the variety of quantificational structures they employ (cf. Bach et al. (eds.), 1995) and in the extent to which the surface form of various quantificational structures provides us with explicit clues about semantic interpretation. The semantic structure of sentences with a single quantificational operator can be determined by the overt phrase structure or by the phrase structure together with information about topic and/or focus. If the semantic structure of quantified sentences is underdetermined (or ambiguous) by both the phrase structure and topic and/or focus structures, it may be disambiguated by the non-linguistic context (cf. Partee, 1995:541).
I propose that there is yet another factor that determines the semantic structure of quantified sentences: namely, the argument structure. A case in point are sentences in which the main quantificational operator is a lexical V-operator. Drawing mainly on the data from Czech, I propose that lexical V-operators function as quantifiers over episodic predicates and their arguments. They bind the variable introduced by the Incremental Theme argument (Hinrichs, 1985; Krifka, 1986; Dowty, 1988,1991), and possibly also the event variable (Davidson, 1967; Parsons, 1986; Kratzer, 1989). If there is no Incremental Theme argument, quantification is directed at the event variable alone; quantification is undefined, if there is neither. The hypothesis builds on Partee's (1991a, 1995) distinction between "syntactic" A-quantifiers (VP- or S-operators) and "lexical" A-quantifiers (V-operators) and presupposes that the denotations of nominal and verbal predicates have a lattice structure of the type proposed by Link (1983, 1987) and Bach (1986). It also builds on the telicity account proposed by Hinrichs (1985), Krifka (1986, 1992) and Dowty (1988, 1991) whose central part is the homomorphic mapping between the denotations of the Incremental Theme argument and the relevant episodic predicate.
Although I focus on lexical quantifiers that function as V-operators in Czech, the results of this study can be applied to other Slavic languages. It is yet to be seen how the conclusions that I reach about Czech will fare when tested against the data from typologically unrelated languages. (Preliminary investigations strongly suggest that my conclusions seem to be applicable to such languages as Hindi, Japanese and Mandarin Chinese.)
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