A Semantics for the English Existential Construction: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

A Semantics for the English Existential Construction

1st Edition

By Louise McNally


222 pages

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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

About the Series

Routledge Library Editions: Semantics and Semiology

Semantics and semiology are two of the most important branches of linguistics and have proven to be fecund areas for research. They examine language structures and how they are dictated by both the meanings and forms of communication employed — semantics by focusing on the denotation of words and fixed word combinations, and semiology by studying sign and sign processes. As numerous interrelated fields connect to and sub-disciplines branch off from these major spheres, they are essential to a thorough grounding in linguistics and crucial for further study.

‘Routledge Library Editions: Semantics and Semiology’ collects together wide-ranging works of scholarship that together provide a comprehensive overview of the preceding theoretical landscape, and expand and extend it in numerous directions. A number of interrelated disciplines are also discussed in conjunction with semantics and semiology such as anaphora, pragmatics, syntax, discourse analysis and the philosophy of language. This set reissues 14 books originally published between 1960 to 2000 and will be of interest to students of linguistics and the philosophy of language.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Grammar & Punctuation
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Syntax
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Semantics