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LINGUISTIX&LOGIK, Tony Marmo's blog
Monday, 22 November 2004


Direct compositionality on demand

By Chris Barker
Source: Semantics Archive

This paper starts with the assumption that the expression saw everyone, as in John saw everyone, is a constituent. It can be coordinated, clefted, focussed, questioned, pronominalized, you name it. In general, if you have a constituent containing an NP, and you replace that NP with a quantificational NP like everyone, then the result is still a full-fledged constituent. But everyone can take scope outside of a verb phrase. As a result, the semantics of everyone must somehow gain access to material that can properly contain the constituent saw everyone. Despite decades of research on quantification, I will suggest that no existing analysis (including my own published accounts to date) provides an adequate characterization of both the local and the long-distance aspects of the syntax and the semantics of quantificational expressions. The main goal of this paper, then, is to propose an explicit new account that tries to do better.

Demand it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 22 November 2004 15:29 GMT
Sunday, 21 November 2004


First - and Second-Order Logic of Mass Terms

By Peter Roeper

The logic of mass terms is a generalisation of standard predicate logic. It allows for domains of quantification which have parts, but do not consist of individuals. The rules of inference are largely those of normal predicate logic. The main point of divergence concerns the identification of argument places (reflexivisation). As there may be no individuals, the idea that distinct occurrences of the same variable always refer to the same individual cannot be applied in specifying the semantics.

The first -order system is developed syntactically in Section 1, the second-order system in Section 2. Formal semantics for the logic of mass terms 1are arrived at indirectly by first translating the statements of the logic of mass terms into a standard first -order calculus, whose domain of quantification is the totality of quantities, i.e. the totality of parts of the domain of mass quantification.

Soundness and completeness results for the first -order logic of mass terms are obtained in Section 3, for second-order logic in Section 4.

Published in the Journalof Philosophical Logic 33(2004)261-297
The paper

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 25 November 2004 05:07 GMT
Friday, 19 November 2004


The Semantics of Respective Readings, Conjunction, and Filler-Gap Dependencies

By Jean Mark Gawron & Andrew Kehler

We provide a semantic analysis of respective readings, including but not limited to the interpretation of examples containing the adverb respectively, which accounts for a number of facts that have either proven difficult for previous studies or heretofore gone unnoticed in the literature. The analysis introduces the new notions of property sum and proposition sum which integrate smoothly with existing analyses of plurals and distributivity. The analysis also admits of a straightforward account of previously unacknowledged examples involving filler-gap dependencies that are problematic for contemporary syntactic theories. Ramifications and directions for future research are discussed.

Free copy

Another version

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 19 November 2004 14:08 GMT
Tuesday, 16 November 2004

Topic: Cognition & Epistemology

Self-Knowledge and Self-Reference

By Robert J. Howell

(...) In an attempt to resolve the tension between the Humean and Cartesian insights and to explain away the paradoxical nature of the self-reference puzzles, I wish to develop a psycho-semantics, or a semantics of thought, which analyses the concepts involved in basic self-knowledge so that the notable epistemic features of the cogito are explained by the mechanisms through which we most fundamentally refer to ourselves. Ultimately, I will maintain that self-reference is underpinned by descriptive knowledge about the self, enabled by one?s consciousness of one?s own sensations. This view can take two forms, however. First, I propose a descriptivism that is a modification of a view of Russell?s. This descriptivism is very attractive, but it is very likely to come under fire due to Kripkean concerns about descriptivist views of reference and their ability to capture modal properties adequately. For those who are impressed with such criticisms, I propose a further modification of the descriptivist view, embedding it in a two-tier framework (ala Kaplan). The result is that the basic intuitions behind my view should be capturable regardless of one?s stance on the debates surrounding direct reference and rigidification.(...)


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 16 November 2004 21:58 GMT
Monday, 15 November 2004


Contextualism, Metaphor, and What is Said

By Elisabeth Camp

On a familiar and prima facie plausible view of metaphor, speakers who speak metaphorically say one thing in order to mean another. Several theorists have recently challenged this view; they offer criteria to distinguish what is said from what is merely meant, and argue that these criteria support classifying metaphor within 'what is said'. I consider four such criteria, and argue that when properly understood, they support the traditional classification instead. I conclude by sketching how we might extract a workable notion of `what is said' from our ordinary intuitions about saying and meaning.

(forthcoming in Mind and Language)


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Sunday, 14 November 2004


Compositionality Inductively, Co-inductively and Contextually

By Tim Fernando

To say that the meaning [[a]] of a term a is given by the meanings of a's parts and how these parts are combined is to state an equality
[[a]] = : : : [[b]] : : : for b a part of a (1)

with meaning [[.]] appearing on both sides. (1) is commonly construed as a prescription for computing the meaning of a based on the parts of a and their mode of combination. As equality is symmetric, however, we can also read (1) from right to left, as a constraint on the meaning [[b]] of a term b that brings in the wider context where b may occur, in accordance with what Dag Westerstahl has recently described as "one version of Frege's famous Context Principle"
the meaning of a term is the contribution it makes to the meanings of complex terms of which it is a constituent. (Westerst ahl, 2004, p.3)

That is, if reading (1) left-to-right suggests breaking a term apart (and delving inside it), then reading (1) right-to-left suggests merging it with other terms (and exploring its surroundings). These complementary perspectives on (1) underly inductive and co-inductive aspects of compositionality (respectively), contrasted below by
(i) reviewing the co-inductive approach to the Fregean covers of Hodges (2001) anticipated in Fernando (1997)

and by
(ii) inductively deriving a more recent theorem of (Westerst ahl, 2004) on the extensibility of compositional semantics closed under subterms.

Choosing between inductive and co-inductive approaches to (1) does not, by itself, determine the meaning function [[.]]. The ellipsis in (1) points to a broader notion of context capturing background assumptions that shape [[.]]. To square (1) with "dynamic" conceptions of meaning as context change (e.g. Heim,1983), we shall inject a certain notion of context c inside meanings, and not simply hang them outside [[.]] as subscripts, [[.]] = [[.]]c.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 15 November 2004 21:37 GMT
Friday, 12 November 2004


Tarski's Conception of Logic

By Solomon Feferman

In its widest scope, Tarski thought the aims of logic should be the creation of a unified conceptual apparatus which would supply a common basis for the whole of human knowledge. Those were his very words in the Preface to the first English edition of the Introduction to Logic (1940). Toward that grand end, in the post-war years when the institutional and financial resources became available, with extraordinary persistence and determination Tarski campaigned vigorously on behalf of logic on several fronts from his increasingly powerful base at the University of California in Berkeley.(...)


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 28 October 2004 18:52 BST


Adjectival Relatives

By Toshiyuki Ogihara

This article discusses what may be referred to as adjectival relatives in Japanese and related constructions in other languages (such as adjectival passives in English). The most intriguing characteristic of this construction is that the verb contained in it occurs in the past tense form, but its primary role is to describe a state that obtains at the local evaluation time, rather than the past event that produced this state. In fact, in some cases, the putative event that presumably produced the target state is non-existent, and the entire construction receives a purely stative interpretation. In other words, it is possible for an adjectival relative to describe a target state without having its triggering event. The proposal I put forth in the article states that what I refer to as an adjectival relative does not have a clausal structure. It rather has a verbal projection (technically a Tense Phrase, or TP). Mod (the modifier head) then combined with TP to yield a MP (modifier phrase), which denotes a property of states that appear to have resulted from an event the verb describes. In order to reach this conclusion, I adopt two additional ideas:
(i) Kratzer's (1996) idea that the so-called external argument of a verb is not really its argument at all;
(ii) direct causation does not have to be overtly represented in natural language syntax (Bittner 1999).

Having incorporated these two ideas, the proposal explains the relation between the state that the adjectival relative describes and the putative event as a modal one, thereby accounting for the non-existence of putative past events in some examples.

Read it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Friday, 12 November 2004 00:15 GMT
Thursday, 11 November 2004

Topic: Syn-Sem Interface


Inspired by Kent Bach's The Top 10 Misconceptions about Implicature, I shall try to write a little bit about misconceptions in Syntax and, inasmuch as possible, semantics.

One common misconception is
One can determine to which category one lexical item belongs and which kind of structural configuration is obtained by meaning constraints.

Although meaning differences count in tests, this is not a sure path to detect structure or classify items.

First of all, there is one empirical problem that meaning does not determine structure. In making a compositional analysis, one has to assume a function relating structure and meaning. A function, not a bi-function. Accordingly, one maps structure onto meaning and not the other way round. This is due to the well known fact that the relation between structure and meaning is something of more than one to one.

Now examine the sentences below:
(1) a. Joe intentionally killed Bill.
b. Joe killed Bill with intention.
(2) Joe intended to kill Bill.

Although the three seem to be equivalent, there are important structural and semantic differences. (1a) and (b) are true iff Bill is really dead, while (2) may be true regardless of whether Bill really died. (It is possible to claim (2) in a larger sentential context like Joe intended to kill Bill, but failed or Joe intended to kill Bill, that is why Bill died). This difference is an evidence of the contribution made by the different categories involved. In (1a) intentionally is an adverb, while intended is a verb in (2).

On the other hand, the PP with intention is not an adverb, even if there is no meaning difference between (a) and (b). (to be continued...)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 20:49 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 11 November 2004 20:53 GMT


Axiomatizing Modal Theories of Subset Spaces
(An Example of the Power of Hybrid Logic)

By Bernhard Heinemann

This paper is about a synthesis of two quite different modal reasoning formalisms: the logic of subset spaces, and hybrid logic. Going beyond commonly considered languages we introduce names of objects involving sets and corresponding satisfaction operators. In this way we are able to completely axiomatize the theory of certain classes of subset spaces which are difficult to deal with purely modally. We also study effectivity properties of the resulting logical systems.

Get it

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Thursday, 11 November 2004 10:06 GMT
Wednesday, 10 November 2004


The Nature of Semantics: On Jackendoff's Arguments

By Steven Gross

Jackendoff defends a mentalist approach to semantics that investigates conceptual structures in the mind/brain and their interfaces with other structures, including specifically linguistic structures responsible for syntactic and phonological competence. He contrasts this approach with one that seeks to characterize the intentional relations between expressions and objects in the world. The latter, he argues, cannot be reconciled with mentalism. He objects in particular that intentionality cannot be naturalized and that the relevant notion of object is suspect. I critically discuss these objections, arguing in part that Jackendoff's position rests on questionable philosophical assumptions.

Go on

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 November 2004 21:02 GMT
Tuesday, 9 November 2004


On the pragmatics of vagueness

By Robert Williams

I outline the notion of an ?equivalence puzzle? and discuss how pragmatic explanations can help resolve them. I focus particularly on an equivalence puzzle given by Cian Dorr, and discuss the application of pragmatic accounts favoured by Dorr and Weatherson to this case. I conclude that a modification of the kind of account that Weatherson suggests is the best candidate for dealing with the puzzle.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 07:58 GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 November 2004 08:04 GMT
Sunday, 7 November 2004



Professor Tallit of the University of Algiers in her article in the French language Moroccan newspaper Le Matin argues that the Roman Alphabet might have had a Berber origin. Here is an excerpt:

(...)Les signes g?om?triques formant l'alphabet latin et entrant dans l'alphabet ph?nicien n'appara?tront en Orient - domin? alors par l'?criture cun?iforme akkadienne - qu'? la suite d'invasions massives d?ferlant de l'Ouest m?diterran?en. Et c'est ? la suite de cette submersion que se cr?eront les alphabets phon?tiques en Ph?nicie, l'un cun?iforme et l'autre lin?aire.

Peut-on consid?rer alors les signes comme U V C X N W I E Z L M S T des poteries berb?res les plus anciennes, des gravures et peintures rupestres de l'Atlas, du Tassili, des m?galithes africains et europ?ens comme de simples graffiti sans importance ou formaient-ils d?j? des lignes d'?criture d?daign?es car ignor?es? Les th?ories sur l'?volution de l'?criture ?vacuent un peu trop rapidement le Libyque - ?criture nord-africaine antique, disparue de nos jours -, et le font d?river du ph?nicien. (...)

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Saturday, 6 November 2004


When does `everything' mean everything?

By Agustin Rayo

At least two different lines of resistance might be deployed against the view that it is possible to quantify over absolutely everything. According to the first, there is no such a thing as an all-inclusive domain. In contrast, the second line of resistance concedes - at least for the sake of argument - that there is such a thing as an all-inclusive domain, but insists that nothing in an agent's thoughts and practices could ever uniquely determine that her domain of quantification is all-inclusive. For whenever it is compatible with an agent's thoughts and practices that his domain of quantification is all-inclusive, it is also compatible with his thoughts and practices that his domain of quantification is less-than-all-inclusive. So the agent could never be said to determinately quantify over absolutely everything. In this paper, I will argue that, when the first line of resistance is set aside, there are reasons for thinking that determinate unrestricted quantification is possible. I will have nothing to say about the first line of resistance.


Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Monday, 1 November 2004 07:28 GMT


Routes to Triviality

By Susan Rogerson and Greg Restall

It is well known that contraction-related principles trivialise naive class theory. It is less well known that many other principles unrelated to contraction also render the theory trivial. This paper provides a characterisation of a large class of formulas which do the job. This class includes all properly implication formulas known in the literature, and adds countably many more.

Follow this route to the paper

Posted by Tony Marmo at 00:01 GMT
Updated: Saturday, 6 November 2004 00:18 GMT

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