A Semantics for the English Existential Construction  book cover
1st Edition

A Semantics for the English Existential Construction

ISBN 9781138690882
Published February 16, 2018 by Routledge
238 Pages

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Book Description

First published in 1997, this book addresses the question: What is the interpretation of English there-existential construction? One of the principal goals is to develop an interpretation for the construction that will specifically address other properties of the postcopular DP. After outlining the problem, the author goes on to present a syntactic motivation for the claim that the postcopular DP is the sole complement to the existential predicate, as well as for the claim that the optional final phrase is a predictive adjunct. In chapter 3 the interpretation for the basic existential construction is developed and then compared to analyses that take the postcopular DP to denote an ordinary individual or a generalised quantifier of individuals. This analysis is then augmented to account for the contribution of the final XP and shows how the predicate restriction can be derived from a more general condition on depictive/circumstantial VP-adjuncts. The final chapter contain some speculative discussion of the broader implications of the proposal in the context of data such as "list" existential and "presentational-there" sentences.

Table of Contents

1 The Problem; 1.1 Introduction 1.2 Facts of be Accounted For 1.2.1 The Definiteness Effect 1.2.2 The Predicate Restriction 1.3 Previous Analyses 1.3.1 There-Insertion and Its Descendants 1.3.2 Previous Characterizations of the DE 1.3.3 The Predicate Restriction 1.4 Outline of Remaining Chapters; 2 Existential Syntax; 2.1 Introduction 2.2 Identifying VP-Adjuncts 2.2.1 Description 2.2.2 A Proposal for Depictive Adjuncts 2.3 Why a DP-External XP Must Be Posited 2.3.1 Arguments for Independence 2.3.2 Williams’ Counterarguments 2.4 Supporting the Adjunct Analysis 2.4.1 Stowell’s Small clause Diagnostics 2.4.2 Extraction 2.5 Chapter Summary; 3 The Existential, Descriptions, and Instantiation; 3.1 Introduction 3.2 Data to Be Accounted For 3.2.1 Quantificational DPs 3.2.2 Scope 3.2.3 Contact Clauses 3.2.4 Relative Clauses 3.3 Property Theory 3.3.1 The Syntax of PT 3.3.2 The Interpretation of PT 3.4 Interpreting the Existential 3.4.1 A Dynamic PT Fragment of English 3.4.2 Interpreting Existential Sentences 3.5 Definites and the Other Half of the DE 3.5.1 Augmenting the Fragment 3.5.2 A Felicity Condition on Existentials 3.5.3 Summary 3.6 Advantages of the Analysis 3.6.1 Acceptability of Quantified Kind DPs 3.6.2 Quantification and Scope 3.6.3 Contact Clauses 3.6.4 Relativization 3.6.5 Summary; 4 Adjunct Predicates and the Predicate Restriction; 4.1 Introduction 4.2 Interpreting Depictive Adjuncts 4.2.1 The Adjunct Rule 4.2.2 Individual/Stage Sensitivity 4.3 Extending the Analysis 4.3.1 Nominalized Functions as Controllers 4.3.2 The Predicate Restriction Revisited 4.4 Eventive Existentials 4.4.1 The Problem 4.4.2 Eventive Participles 4.4.3 Why These Existentials Are Not Passives 4.4.4 A Proposal 4.5 Chapter Summary; 5 Some Final Remarks; 5.1 Introduction 5.2 Definites in the Existential 5.2.1 List Existentials 5.2.2 Focus and Existential 5.3 Other Expectations 5.3.1 Other Expletive There Sentences 5.3.2 The Existential and Other Indexicals; References; Index

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