From: Tatjana Scheffler <tatjana.schefflerdfki.de>
Subject: Semantic Operators in Different Dimensions
E-mail this message to a friend
Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008
Author: Tatjana Scheffler
Dissertation Title: Semantic Operators in Different Dimensions
Dissertation URL: http://www.dfki.de/~tasc/dissertation.html
Subject Language(s): English (eng)
German, Standard (deu)
This thesis studies the interface of truth-conditional and
non-truth-conditional meaning by investigating constructions whose meaning
and use differ because their semantic contributions are distributed
differently over the semantic dimensions. The constructions in question are
certain clausal adjuncts and complements.
For clausal adjuncts, I argue that two words for 'because' in German
('weil' and 'denn') contribute the same semantic operator (causality), but
on different semantic dimensions. While 'weil' operates in the assertion
(or at issue) dimension, 'denn' instead contributes a side comment (or
conventional implicature). Consequently, the two words differ both in their
range of use as well as in their semantic behavior as part of larger
sentences. I point out the same empirical dichotomy for other adjuncts such
as regular and relevance conditionals, 'although'-clauses, and different
kinds of adverbs. I show that for each of the constructions similar
semantic differences result because an operator is contributed on the at
issue dimension in one case, and as a conventional implicature in the other.
In the realm of complement clauses I investigate complements of attitude
verbs. Of the large range of constructions that express the semantic
arguments of attitude verbs, I study two in this thesis: slifting and
embedded verb-second clauses. I show that these two constructions again
mirror the situation as with 'weil' and 'denn' above: I propose that the
two constructions contribute the same semantic pieces, but distribute them
differently over the semantic dimensions of assertion and conventional
In multiple case studies, this thesis thus addresses some of the most
important questions in linguistic semantics: What are the semantic pieces
associated with a certain word or construction? How are these semantic
pieces distributed over the known dimensions of meaning? And what effects
does the individual distribution of meaning parts over semantic dimensions
have for the overall meaning, function, and discourse effects of complex
The issue of the dimensionality of semantic entailments is not bound to a
particular language (group), and the phenomena I study are generally
cross-linguistically well-attested. For practical reasons, though, the
discussion in this dissertation concentrates mostly on examples from German
This Year the LINGUIST List hopes to raise $60,000. This money will go to help
keep the List running by supporting all of our Student Editors for the coming year.
See below for donation instructions, and don't forget to check out our Fund Drive
2009 LINGUIST List Restaurant and join us for a delightful treat!
There are many ways to donate to LINGUIST!
You can donate right now using our secure credit card form at
Alternatively you can also pledge right now and pay later. To do so, go to:
For all information on donating and pledging, including information on how to
donate by check, money order, or wire transfer, please visit:
The LINGUIST List is under the umbrella of Eastern Michigan University and as such
can receive donations through the EMU Foundation, which is a registered 501(c) Non
Profit organization. Our Federal Tax number is 38-6005986. These donations can be
offset against your federal and sometimes your state tax return (U.S. tax payers
only). For more information visit the IRS Web-Site, or contact your financial advisor.
Many companies also offer a gift matching program, such that they will match any
gift you make to a non-profit organization. Normally this entails your contacting
your human resources department and sending us a form that the EMU Foundation fills
in and returns to your employer. This is generally a simple administrative procedure
that doubles the value of your gift to LINGUIST, without costing you an extra penny.
Please take a moment to check if your company operates such a program.
Thank you very much for your support of LINGUIST!
Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue