Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


It's Been Said Before

By Orin Hargraves

It's Been Said Before "examines why certain phrases become clichés and why they should be avoided -- or why they still have life left in them."

New from Cambridge University Press!


Sounds Fascinating

By J. C. Wells

How do you pronounce biopic, synod, and Breughel? - and why? Do our cake and archaic sound the same? Where does the stress go in stalagmite? What's odd about the word epergne? As a finale, the author writes a letter to his 16-year-old self.

Book Information

Sun Image

Title: A Semantics for the English Existential Construction
Written By: Louise E. McNally

The philosopher P.H. Strawson observed that there are two ways to characterize the semantics of existence statements: as existentially quantified propositions involving particular individuals, or as subject-predicate propositions in which the subject is a property, or description of an individual, the predicate affirming the instantiation of this property or description. This work presents a new semantics for English existential-there sentences which, unlike most previous analyses of the construction, advocates the latter of these two characterizations of existence statements. The interpretation for the construction is developed in both a property-theoretic semantics and a version of File Change Semantics, and is accompanied by a complete syntactic analysis. Perhaps the most significant consequence of the proposal is that the well-known restriction on the sorts of noun phrases that can appear in existential sentences (the so-called definiteness effect) cannot be treated as a unified phenomenon; rather, it must result from a combination of semantic and pragmatic factors. This nonunified account is argued to be more successful than previous treatments at handling certain problematic data, at capturing similarities between existential and copular sentences, and at predicting cross-linguistic variation in the definiteness effect.

Publication Year: 1997
Publisher: Garland Publishers
Review: Not available for review. If you would like to review a book on The LINGUIST List, please login to view the AFR list.
BibTex: View BibTex record
Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue: All announcements sent out by The LINGUIST List are emailed to our subscribers and archived with the Library of Congress.
Click here to see the original emailed issue.

Format: Hardback
ISBN: 0815325576
ISBN-13: N/A
Pages: 240
Prices: $62