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LINGUIST List 16.2675

Fri Sep 16 2005

Diss: Semantics: Tredinnick: 'On the Semantics of ...'

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        1.    Victoria Tredinnick, On the Semantics of Free Relatives with -Ever

Message 1: On the Semantics of Free Relatives with -Ever
Date: 15-Sep-2005
From: Victoria Tredinnick <vtredinnicklsac.org>
Subject: On the Semantics of Free Relatives with -Ever

Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Victoria Tredinnick

Dissertation Title: On the Semantics of Free Relatives with -Ever

Dissertation URL: http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~victoria/

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Maribel Romero

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation is about three aspects of the semantics of -ever free
relatives: their modal flavor (ignorance or indifference), their
quantificational force (definite or universal), and their presuppositions.

Free relatives with -ever have readings available to them that plain free
relatives do not. Von Fintel (2000) argues that -ever introduces a
presupposition of variation over the denotation of the free relative (a
definite expression) across possible worlds. When the modal base is
epistemic, variation results in the ignorance reading; when the modal base
is counterfactual, variation results in the indifference reading. I adopt
this analysis of the modal dimension of -ever free relatives and make a
further distinction between agent indifference and external indifference.

Regarding quantificational force, it has been variously argued that -ever
free relatives are definite descriptions and that they are universals.
Dayal (1997) argues that -ever free relatives are definites that acquire
the properties of universals when they appear in generic contexts. I argue
that a version of this last position is correct: Not all -ever free
relatives can display universal behavior. While indifference free relatives
can behave either like definites or like universals, ignorance free
relatives cannot behave like universals and always behave like definites
even in generic contexts.

I argue that the ability of indifference free relatives to behave like
universals is correlated with the projection behavior of their
presupposition. The counterfactual presupposition that produces
indifference can be accommodated locally, giving rise to agent
indifference, or it can project globally, giving rise to external
indifference. In contrast, the epistemic presupposition that produces
ignorance can only project globally. Furthermore, ignorance free relatives
that appear in generic contexts are not interpreted under the generic
operator. These properties of ignorance free relatives are linked to the
fact that ignorance free relatives are epistemic items.

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