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LINGUIST List 21.5002

Fri Dec 10 2010

Diss: Semantics: Champollion: 'Parts of a Whole: Distributivity as ...'

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        1.     Lucas Champollion , Parts of a Whole: Distributivity as a bridge between aspect and measurement

Message 1: Parts of a Whole: Distributivity as a bridge between aspect and measurement
Date: 07-Dec-2010
From: Lucas Champollion <champollgmail.com>
Subject: Parts of a Whole: Distributivity as a bridge between aspect and measurement
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Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2010

Author: Lucas Champollion

Dissertation Title: Parts of a Whole: Distributivity as a bridge between aspect and measurement

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics

Dissertation Director:
Cleo A. Condoravdi

Dissertation Abstract:

Why can I tell you that I 'ran for five minutes' but not that I '*ran to
the store for five minutes'? Why can you say that there are 'five pounds
of books' in this package if it contains several books, but not '*five
pounds of book' if it contains only one? What keeps you from using '*sixty
degrees of water' to tell me the temperature of the water in your pool when
you can use 'sixty inches of water' to tell me its height? And what goes
wrong when I complain that '*all the ants in my kitchen are numerous'?

The constraints on these constructions involve concepts that are generally
studied separately: aspect, plural and mass reference, measurement, and
distributivity. This work provides a unified perspective on these domains,
connects them formally within the framework of mereological semantics, and
uses this connection to transfer insights across unrelated bodies of
literature. A generalized notion of distributivity is proposed and
formalized as a parametrized higher-order property called stratified
reference: a predicate that holds of a certain entity or event is required
to also hold of its parts along a certain dimension and down to a certain
granularity. The dimension parameter is a thematic role in the case of
'each' and 'all', a measure function in the case of pseudopartitives, and
time or space in the case of 'for'-adverbials. The granularity parameter
involves pure atoms in the case of 'each', pure and impure atoms in the
case of 'all', and very small amounts of space, time, or matter in the
cases of pseudopartitives and 'for'-adverbials. Stratified reference is
used to formulate a single constraint that explains each of the judgments
above. The constraint is exploited to improve on existing characterizations
of distributivity, atelicity, and monotonicity of measurement.

The framework results in a new take on the minimal-parts problem that
occurs in the study of atelic predicates and mass terms. It scales up
successfully from temporal to spatial aspect, and it explains why
pseudopartitives and other distributive constructions are sensitive to the
difference between intensive and extensive measure functions. It provides a
fresh view on atomic and cover-based theories of quantificational
distributivity. The framework is also used to account for the scopal
behavior of 'all' and of 'for'-adverbials with respect to cumulative
quantification and dependent plurals. Together with a novel theory of
collective predication, the framework also provides an account of the
differences between such predicates as 'be numerous' and 'gather' as they
interact with 'all'.



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