Archive | December 2016

December 16: Special LUSH event on the occasion of Maartje Schulpen’s defense, Utrecht

We are happy to announce that on Friday, December 16, on the occasion of Maartje Schulpen’s defense there will be a special LUSH event in Utrecht with talks by Ana Aguilar Guevara (National Autonomous University of Mexico) and Louise McNally (Universitat Pompeu Fabra). The talks will take place in the morning of December 16, at Janskerkhof 13, room 0.06, Utrecht.

We hope to see you all there!

9:45 – Opening & coffee/tea
10:00 – Ana Aguilar Guevara – Literal and enriched meaning of sentences with weak definites and bare singulars 
11:00 – Louise McNally – Idioms and the syntax/semantics interface of descriptive content vs. reference (joint work with Berit Gehrke)

Louise McNallyIdioms and the syntax/semantics interface of descriptive content vs. reference
The syntactic literature on idioms contains some proposals (e.g. Sportiche 2005, Cecchetto & Donati 2015) that are surprising from a compositional perspective: They propose that, in the case of verb-object idioms, the verb combines directly with the noun inside its DP complement, and the determiner is introduced higher up in the syntactic structure, or is late adjoined. This seems to violate compositionality insofar as it is generally assumed that the semantic role of the determiner is to convert a noun to the appropriate semantic type to serve as the argument to the function denoted by the verb. In this paper, we establish a connection between this line of analysis and lines of work in semantics that have developed outside of the domain of idioms, including work on incorporation and a recent implementation of a semantics for the “layered” DP (Zamparelli 1995) developed in McNally (to appear), McNally & Boleda (to appear). What all of this research in semantics shares is that in one way or another it separates the composition of descriptive content from that of discourse referent introducing material; what the latter proposal offers is a particularly promising way to handle the compositional difficulties posed by idioms.

Ana Aguilar GuevaraLiteral and enriched meaning of sentences with weak definites and bare singulars
Sentences with weak definites (1) and bare singulars (2) in complementary distribution convey two kinds of content: the literal meaning (LM), which is evidently derived from the combination of the meaning of the sentences’ constituents, and the enriched meaning (EM), which cannot be directly attributed to any constituent:

(1) Lola went to the store.
LM = Lola went to a store.
EM = Lola went to do some shopping.

(2) Theo went to church.
LM = Theo went to a church.
EM = Theo went to attend Mass

This talk examines the semantic-pragmatic nature of LMs and EMs and concludes that, whereas LMs should be considered truth-conditional content, EMs should be treated as being partly truth-conditional content and partly conversational implicature. This behaviour is accounted by Aguilar-Guevara and Zwarts’ [2011, 2013] analysis of weak definites and its extension to bare singulars, according to which the meaning of (1) is that: (a) Lola is the agent of an event of going to a location exemplified by the store kind, and (b) the event is part of the stereotypical usages associated with the kind. (a) corresponds to the LM that Lola went to a store. (b) accounts for the EM that Lola went to do some shopping, as this is a usual stereotypical purpose associated with stores. However, that Lola went there to do some general shopping and nothing else still stereotypically associated with stores -like returning bottles for recycling- or more specific -like buying milk only- is not stated in the logical form, but rather an inference conversationally derived.