Cross-world reference
Squid Tamar-Mattis
May 2024

One way for semanticists to analyze truth in fiction is by relativizing propositions to fictional worlds. However, some sentences in natural language require information from multiple worlds to interpret. These include referential cross-world sentences, where the name of an actor from the real world appears to replace the name of the fictional character they play (downward), or vice versa (upward). Previous literature has typically assumed that in these cases, the name of an individual from one world actually does reference the related individual in another. I present several empirical asymmetries between upward and downward cross-world reference that make this analysis problematic. Instead, I propose a covert operator FICT, which takes a predicate P , and returns a predicate that roughly means ‘plays a character of whom P is true in a fictional world.’ FICT can be applied to sentential predicates to form downward referential cross-world sentences, or within DPs to form upward referential cross-world sentences (provided we make certain assumptions about the structure of name and pronoun DPs). In addition to the aforementioned asymmetries, this accounts for apparent differences between English and languages like Italian in how gender is handled in referential cross-world sentences, as well as for some previously studied facts about dream reports, which I analyze as a type of referential cross-world sentence. Finally, I explore how this analysis might be expanded to include account for facts about the treatment of fictional times and events.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008189
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: possible worlds, phi-features, anaphora, gender, fiction, dream reports, english, italian, russian, semantics
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