Friday, January 11, 2013
2:00 PM - 4:00 PM
Where: Kresge Hall, 2-345, 1880 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it
Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public
Group: PhLing Workgroup
Title: "A neo-Fregean semantics for modified and unmodified number words"
Abstract: In this talk, I present and motivate a fully semantic and compositional analysis of scalar ("at least" vs. "at most" vs. "exactly") readings of sentences containing numerals, in which number words denote second-order properties of properties of degrees, and scalar readings arise through scopal interactions between number words and other constituents, rather than through implicature or pragmatic enrichment. I show that this analysis explains a number of facts that have been problematic for traditional analyses of number words as quantificational determiners or cardinality predicates, and that it also explains a complicated set of facts involving modified numerals, recently discussed by Nouwen (2010), which are not easily handled by any previous account. I end by comparing this "neo-Fregean" analysis to a "Fregean" alternative, in which numerals denote second order properties of individuals (rather than of degrees). Although it is not be entirely clear how such an analysis would be implemented compositionally, it turns out that it makes very similar predictions about truth conditions, and in a couple of cases actually looks like a better way of accounting for the facts.