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Quantifed possessives and direct compositionality

Proceedings of SALT
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  • Linguistics


Quantified possessives and direct compositionality Quantified possessives and direct compositionality Itamar Francez University of Chicago 1. Introduction Direct compositionality is the hypothesis that semantic interpretation tightly follows syntactic combination. An important constraint placed by direct compositionality on the syntax-semantics interface is that every constituent generated by syntactic rules receives a model theoretic interpretation. Direct compositionality as a pro- gram and an empirical hypothesis has been a core topic in semantic theory for four decades now (Montague 1970, Jacobson 1999, 2000, Szabolcsi 2003, inter alia. A state of the art overview of direct compositionality as well as a collection of recent studies are found in Barker and Jacobson 2007). This study examined the issues raised for direct compositionality by the semantics of quantified possessive NPs like the one in (1), henceforth quantified possessives. (1) Every man’s problems were solved. The various semantic and pragmatic problems raised by quantified posses- sives were first discussed and given an explicit analysis in Barker (1995). In that analysis, quantified possessives involve unselective quantification over cases. For example, (1) receives a logical form along the lines of (2), where R is the possessive relation. (2) every[man(x) & problem(y) & R(x,y)][solved(y)] This analysis is thus not directly compositional. For example, the syntactic constituent every man does not receive a semantic interpretation. More recently, Peters and Westersta˚hl (2006) (PW) have provided a thorough discussion of quan- tification in possessives. Their analysis diverges from Barker’s in several significant ways. For example, it does not involve unselective binding, and it associates an interpretation with genitive ’s. However, PW’s analysis is also not directly compo- sitional. Specifically, their analysis of quantified possessives with partitives such as (3) makes use of a non-directly compositional rul

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