Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Leibniz-Gemeinschaft

Expressing (non)specificity cross-linguistically

Speaker Maria Aloni
Affiliaton(s) Universiteit van Amsterdam
Date 25.06.2024, 11:00 - 13:00 Uhr
Time 11:00 o'clock
Venue ZAS, Pariser Str. 1, 10719 Berlin; Room: Ilse Zimmermann-Saal 0.32 (Ground floor)


Indefinites are known to give rise to different scopal (specific vs nonspecific) and epistemic (known vs unknown) uses. Farkas and Brasoveanu [2020] explained these specificity distinctions in terms of stability vs. variability in value assignments of the variable introduced by the indefinite. Typological research [Haspelmath, 1997] showed that indefinites have different functional distributions with respect to these uses. In this work, we present a formal framework where Farkas and Brasoveanu [2020]’s ideas are rigorously formalized. We develop a two-sorted team semantics [Väänänen 2007] which integrates both scope and epistemic effects. We apply the framework to explain typological variety of indefinites, their restricted distribution and licensing conditions, and some diachronic developments of indefinite forms.

 -D. Farkas and A. Brasoveanu. Kinds of (Non)Specificity. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Semantics, pages 1–26, 2020.

 -M. Haspelmath. Indefinite Pronouns. Oxford University Press, 1997.

-J. Väänänen. Dependence Logic. Cambridge University Press, 2007.