Donkeys under Discussion
Robert Henderson (University of Arizona)

August 9, 2019, 11:00am - 1:00pm
Logic Group, The University of Melbourne

556
Arts West
Parkville 3010
Australia

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University of Melbourne

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Robert Henderson (Arizona) will present "Donkeys under Discussion" at 11 in Arts West North Wing 556 on 9 August. 

Abstract: Donkey sentences have existential and universal readings, but they are not often perceived as ambiguous. We extend the pragmatic theory of non-maximality in plural definites by Križ (2016) to explain how hearers use Questions under Discussion to fix the interpretation of donkey sentences in context. We propose that the denotations of such sentences involve truth-value gaps — in certain scenarios the sentences are neither true nor false — and demonstrate that Križ’s pragmatic theory fills these gaps to generate the standard judgments of the literature. Building on Muskens’s (1996) Compositional Discourse Representation Theory and on ideas from supervaluation semantics, we define a general schema for dynamic quantification that delivers the required truth-value gaps.  

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