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LINGUIST List 19.290

Thu Jan 24 2008

Diss: Semantics/Syntax: Chaves: 'Coordinate Structures: Constraint-...'

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        1.    Rui Chaves, Coordinate Structures: Constraint-based syntax-semantics processing

Message 1: Coordinate Structures: Constraint-based syntax-semantics processing
Date: 24-Jan-2008
From: Rui Chaves <rpchavesgmail.com>
Subject: Coordinate Structures: Constraint-based syntax-semantics processing
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Institution: University of Lisbon
Program: Formal syntax and semantics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Rui Pedro Chaves

Dissertation Title: Coordinate Structures: Constraint-based syntax-semantics processing

Dissertation URL: http://www.clul.ul.pt/clg/diss_rpc.pdf

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Dissertation Director:
Palmira Marrafa
Ivan Andrew Sag

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation examines the structure and the meaning of coordination
structures. In the realm of syntax, it is often assumed that coordination
structures come in different flavors and that they are the locus of various
kinds of structural asymmetries and irregularities. This dissertation
argues that many of these views are not well motivated empirically, and
offers novel empirical observations that suggest a more systematic view.
With regard to semantics, it is standardly assumed that there are many
different kinds of conjunction meanings - some of which are arbitrarily
ambiguous - and that they have different syntactic distributions. Standard
accounts usually resort to complex covert machinery in order to account for
various special cases of semantic interpretation which are observed. A more
uniform semantic account is proposed in this dissertation. New evidence is
provided to show that the standard distinction between Boolean and
Non-Boolean conjunction is most problematic, and that cross-categorial
conjunction can be viewed as a unique kind of conjunction, without
exceptions for the nominal domain. It is argued that pluralic NPs
(including plural NPs and conjoined NP structures) are not ambiguous in any
way, that distributive, collective and cumulative readings are best modeled
via the lexical semantics of predicates that subcategorize for these
arguments. A unique coordination construction and a unique semantic
composition process are argued to account for a wide range of coordination
phenomena, including conjunction and disjunction, without higher-order
operations nor appeal to massive semantic ambiguity. Various recalcitrant
phenomena that occur in the presence of coordination are predicted by the
theory, via independently motivated ellipsis phenomena and via processing
constraints. The result is a leaner theory of the syntax-semantics
interface for coordination, in which coordinate structures interact in a
uniform way with other constructions.

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