Functional inde nites: Skolemization As Alienable Possession
Zahra Mirrazi
July 2021

For an analysis of indefinites to adequately capture the data, two kinds of indefinites need to be distinguished: a certain indefinites and a/some indefinites. These indefinites differ in two aspects: 1) In non-monotonic context, only a certain indefinites give rise to functional readings (Schwarz, 2001, 2011; Chierchia, 2001). 2) a/some inde nites can give rise to pair-list readings (Endriss, 2009; Ebert, 2020) under the scope of true distributive quanti ers every and each (Solomon, 2011). Choice functional analyses have been successful in accounting for the exceptional wide scope of indefinites. However, it has been argued that these accounts cannot capture the differences between the two types of indefinites without appealing to stipulative constraints. In this paper, I propose that the functional dependency between a DP and a higher quantifier is built in the NP level. Under this proposal, both a/some and a certain indefinite determiners uniformly denote skolem functions of type < < e,t > , e > which are existentially closed in the topmost level of the derivation (Matthewson, 1999). The dependency between the indefinite and a higher quantifier is a result of a type-shifting operator that shift the type of an NP from < e , t > to < e , < e , t > >. This type-shifter, which I call skol, introduces an implicit functional variable whose referent is contextually determined. The difference between a/some and a certain indefinites is pragmatic. In the case of some/a indefinites, the free functional variable is subject to a strong contextual felicity constraint (Tonhauser et al., 2013; King, 2018) such that the linguistic context should entail that the functional variable has a referent. This reference implication cannot be accommodated. The presence of the NP modified “certain” makes the accommodation strategy possible.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006143
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: the proceedings of ESSLLI 2021. (comments are welcome!)
keywords: indefinites, choice functions, functional interpretation, functional dependencies, non-monotonic contexts, pair-list readings, possessives, e-type pronouns, semantics
previous versions: v1 [August 2021]
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