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Definiteness Projection

Rothschild, D; Mandelkern, M; (2020) Definiteness Projection. Natural Language Semantics 10.1007/s11050-019-09159-2. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

We argue that definite noun phrases give rise to uniqueness inferences characterized by a pattern we call definiteness projection. Definiteness projection says that the uniqueness inference of a definite projects out unless there is an indefinite antecedent in a position that filters presuppositions. We argue that definiteness projection poses a serious puzzle for e-type theories of (in)definites; on such theories, indefinites should filter existence presuppositions but not uniqueness presuppositions. We argue that definiteness projection also poses challenges for dynamic approaches, which have trouble generating uniqueness inferences and predicting some filtering behavior, though unlike the challenge for e-type theories, these challenges have mostly been noted in the literature, albeit in a piecemeal way. Our central aim, however, is not to argue for or against a particular view, but rather to formulate and motivate a generalization about definiteness which any adequate theory must account for.

Type: Article
Title: Definiteness Projection
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1007/s11050-019-09159-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11050-019-09159-2
Language: English
Additional information: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Keywords: anaphora definite descriptions indefinites dynamic semantics e-type theories
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10086028
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