Predicates and Temporal Arguments

Predicates and Temporal Arguments

Predicates and Temporal Arguments

Predicates and Temporal Arguments

Synopsis

A distinction is made in formal semantics between "stage-level predicates," predicates that describe the general state of a noun, and "individual-level predicates," predicates that specify the specific properties of a noun. Fernald investigates various contexts in which this distinction is traditionally said to come into play. His aim is to show that the effects displayed are not uniform, and that the differences between the analyses proposed in the literature arise from the authors considering different subsets of data that they take to exemplyify the "core" meaning of the stage/individual distinction. Fernald presents alternatives and extensions that shed light on the limitations of previous theories, as well as making original observations about important aspects of the topic, including coercion, and perceptual reports vs. other phenomena.

Excerpt

This book is about the distinction between individual- and stage-level predicates, a semantic distinction that interacts with syntax and pragmatics in complex ways. Because of these interactions, the distinction has been significant for theories of the interfaces between these fields. in this volume, I survey the most prominent views of the distinction, taking new data and perspectives into consideration, and then I adopt and explore an underexamined portion of Kratzer (1988) proposal that there is a type-theoretic distinction between the two sorts of predicate.

This book began as my doctoral dissertation (1994) at the University of California, Santa Cruz, supervised by William A. Ladusaw. Roughly two-thirds of it is substantially different in the current volume. I have benefited from the input of scholars I did not know as a graduate student, and I have had the chance to learn more and to reflect on the issues involved. My opinions on smaller points have undergone many adjustments. My fundamental views have not changed substantially, although I think I have better reasons for holding them, and they are expressed with greater clarity than in the dissertation.

Many people have contributed to this book through written comments, correspondence, and consultations. Bill Ladusaw invested a large amount of time in me and my work while I was at Santa Cruz. I am also grateful for insightful contributions from dissertation committee members Geoffrey Pullum and Donka Farkas, who is always generous with her time and ideas. I have benefited from conversations with Michael Johnson, Chris Kennedy, Louise McNally, and Peter Svenonius. When I needed a boost during the most recent evolution of this book I got one from Greg Carlson, Donka Farkas, Sheila Glasbey, Gerhard Jager, Eloise Jelinek, Manfred Krifka, Donna Jo Napoli, Hana Philip, Carlota Smith, and two anonymous reviewers for Oxford. Many of them contributed key ideas that developed into major points in the analysis.

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