Descriptions in Context: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Descriptions in Context

1st Edition

By Cleo A. Condoravdi


203 pages

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First published in 1997, this book focuses on the semantics of definite and indefinite descriptions — taking the presuppositional theory of definiteness and indefiniteness proposed by Heim as a starting point. It seeks to show that there exists a special type of indefinites that have an interpretation commonly associated with definites. It further argues that the felicity conditions associated with indefinite NP’s can vary and develops a more fine-grained theory of novelty within the framework of File Change Semantics. More generally, this work can be seen as providing an empirical argument in favour of a dynamic theory of meaning and against the more traditional truth-conditional theory.

Table of Contents

Preface; Introduction; 2 Bare Plurals and Genericity; 1 Introduction 2 Genericity and the Readings of Bare Plurals 2.1 Genericity 2.2 Bare Plurals 3 The Kind Analysis 3.1 Basic Outline 3.2 Arguments for a Unified Treatment 3.2.1 Bare Plurals Are Unambiguous 3.2.2 Bare Plurals and Indefinite NP’s 3.2.3 A Generic Operator and Bare Plurals 3.3 Limits and Limitations of Uniformity 3.4 Summary 4 The Indefiniteness Analysis 4.1 Basic Outline 4.2 Individual-Level and Stage-Level Predicates 4.3 The Generic Operator 4.3.1 Implicit Domain Restrictions 4.3.2 Modal Dimension 4.4 Conclusion Appendix Notes; 3 Functional Reading of Bare Plurals; 1 Introduction 2 The Functional Reading of Bare Plurals 2.1 Initial Observations 2.2 Functional Reading with Individual-Level Predicates 2.2.1 Genericity and the Functional Reading 2.2.2 Contextual Restrictions 2.3 Functional Reading with Stage-Level Predicates 2.4 Other Indefinites 2.5 Excluding a Purely Pragmatic Account 2.5.1 The Implicature 2.5.2 The Referentiality Approach 2.6 Functional Reading in Quantified Contexts 2.6.1 Dependent Functional Reading 2.6.2 Quantificational and Modal Subordination 2.7 The Presupposition of Existence 2.7.1 Simple Cases 2.7.2 Projection of the Existential Presupposition 2.7.3 Functional Reading with Adverbs of Quality 2.8 Overview 3 An Operator Analysis 3.1 Degenerative Genericity 3.2 Degenerative Genericity and the Functional Reading 3.2.1 Implicit Contextual Restrictions 3.2.2 Implication of Existence 3.2.3 Scopal Interaction 3.3 Stage-Level 3.4 Positive Contextual Sensitivity 3.5 Summary 4 Conclusion Notes; 4 Strong and Weak Novelty; 1 Introduction 2 The Dynamic View on Meaning 2.1 Assertions and Contextual Update 2.2 Presuppositions and Contextual Admittance 3 The Novelty-Familiarity Theory of Definiteness 3.1 Files as Information States 3.2 Informativeness of Files 3.3 The Felicity Conditions of Definites and Indefinintes 3.4 The Truth Conditions for Definites and Indefinintes 4 The Functional reading 4.1 Weakly and Strongly Novel NP’s 4.2 Contextually Salient Functions 4.3 Negative Contextual Sensitivity 4.4 Strong and Weak Novelty and NP Strength 4.5 Existential Force and Strong vs. Weak Novelty 4.6 Maximality 4.7 Consequences of the Existential Presupposition 4.7.1 Positive Contextual Sensitivity 4.7.2 Dependent Functional Reading 5 Conclusion Notes; Bibliography; 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 / Syntax
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Semantics