December 6: Heather Burnett (Jean Nicod Institute, Paris) – UiL OTS

We’re happy to announce that on Thursday, December 6, Heather Burnett (Jean Nicod Institute, Paris) will give a LUSH talk in Utrecht entitled On the logical, grammatical and cognitive foundations of adjectival scale structure. Hope to see you all there!

Date: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Time: 15:00-17:00

Location: Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06


In this presentation, I present a new theory of the relationship between context-sensitivity, vagueness, and adjectival scale structure. From an empirical point of view, I argue that the four principle subclasses of adjectival predicates (relative ad-jectives (ex. tall), total absolute adjectives (ex. dry), partial absolute adjectives (ex. wet), and non-scalar adjectives (ex. atomic)) can be distinguished along three dimensions: 1) how their criteria of application can vary depending on context; 2) how they display the characteristic properties of vague language; and 3) what the properties of their associated orders (a.k.a. scales) are. It has been known for a long time in the literature (cf. Unger (1975), Pinkal (1995), Kennedy (2007), a.o.) thatthere exist connections between context-sensitivity, vagueness, and scale structure; however, a formal system that expresses these connections has yet to be developed.By combining insights into the relationship between context-sensitivity and scalarity from the delineation semantics framework (Klein (1980), a.o.) with insights intothe relationship between tolerance relations and the Sorites paradox from Cobreros,Égré, Ripley & van Rooij (2012)’s Tolerant, Classical, Strict (TCS) framework, Ipropose such a logical system. Using this framework, I show that the association ofparticular classes of adjectives with their particular kinds of scales can be derived from their context-sensitivity and vagueness properties. In other words, I argue that from independently necessary theories of context-sensitivity and vagueness, we arrive at a full theory of gradability and scale structure in the adjectival domain.

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