LINGUIST List 14.1567

Tue Jun 3 2003

Diss: Syntax/Semantics: Mart�: Contextual Variables

Editor for this issue: Naomi Fox <>


  1. marti, Contextual Variables

Message 1: Contextual Variables

Date: Mon, 02 Jun 2003 05:34:08 +0000
From: marti <>
Subject: Contextual Variables

Institution: University of Connecticut
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2003

Author: Luisa Mart� 

Dissertation Title: Contextual Variables

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: 	Syntax

Subject Language: 	English (code: ENG ) 
			Chinese, Mandarin (code: CHN )

Dissertation Director 1: Sigrid Beck
Dissertation Director 2: Yael Sharvit
Dissertation Director 3: Howard Lasnik
Dissertation Director 4: William Snyder

Dissertation Abstract: 

The hypothesis pursued in this dissertation is that contextual
variables (C) of the kind assumed for quantifiers like every or only
are pronouns. One major advantage of taking this position is that if
the behavior of C reduces to the behavior of pronouns, no new
machinery needs to be added to the grammar in order to deal with C.

	The C of quantificational expressions like every or no can be
bound and is subject to the kinds of constraints that bound pronouns
are subject to. In particular, C is subject to WCO in English and
Chinese. In addition, whenever we find exceptions to WCO with pronouns
in English, we find the same exceptions with C. The distribution of
Chinese bound pronouns is more constrained than in English, and the
distribution of C in Chinese is also more constrained.

	As for free instances of C, I argue against analyses of
association with focus that postulate non-pronoun-like constraints on
C, since such analyses force a departure from the hypothesis that C is
a pronoun. In the alternative analysis of association with focus
proposed here, the burden of explanation is shifted to constraints on
(implicit) discourse structure (Roberts (1996/1998), to which I add a
principle based on maximal informativity. These constraints narrow
down the kinds of contexts where sentences are felicitous. It is
because of properties of the contexts in which sentences with only are
felicitous that association-with-focus readings obtain: they contain
only one suitable antecedent for the contextual variable of only. The
same analysis is pursued for even, also and always, where certain
difference between always and only (Beaver and Clark (2001, 2002a, b),
Cohen (1999)) are explained. Maximal informativity finds additional
support from facts independent of association. Other analyses of
association, such as Rooth's (1992), are critically reviewed.
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