[SynSem] Paolo Morosi (UA Barcelone)

Representativity: plural definite DPs as singular group-denoting expression

Salle 124 & zoom
Meeting ID: 956 7588 5410              Passcode: YC4zpD

retour Séminaire Syntaxe et Sémantique

Paolo Morosi (UA Barcelone)

Representativity: plural definite DPs as singular group-denoting expression

This talk investigates representative interpretations (RIs) of plural definite descriptions as in The Romans built this bridge.

It compares them with non-maximal (NMs) readings of plural definite DPs (Brisson 1998) and shows that they represent two distinct interpretative possibilities associated with plural definites (contra Brisson 1998; Lasersohn 1999; Križ 2016; Bar-Lev 2021, a.o.,): whereas NMs refer to plural (non-maximal) sets of individuals in the extension of the noun, RIs denote (representative) groups (i.e., singular atomic entities; Landman 1989, Barker 1992). It is proposed that while the NM reading is a purely pragmatic phenomenon (see Lasersohn’s 1999 ‘pragmatic slack’), RIs are the consequence of the application of a representativity operator rep, which takes a plural maximal set as its input and maps it into an intensionalized – representative – singular group (⟦repC: ɩ(x)[p(x)] → ^↑(ɩ(x)[p(x)]) in c).

The proposal explains why, in contrast to NMs, RIs behave like group NPs with respect to (Q-)distributivity (De Vries 2015, 2017) and reciprocity (Palmieri et al. 2019). It is also worth noting that the rep-operator seems to be overtly grammaticalized in some languages (e.g., Standard Arabic).

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