This thesis investigates two issues. It studies the interpretations of
sentences with plural arguments and it analyzes anaphoricity triggered by
the presence of semantically plural nouns. Regarding the first point, it is
standardly assumed that sentences with plural arguments can have many
interpretations. This thesis discusses various psycholinguistic
experiments, as well as two new questionnaire studies, which show in detail
how the preferences among these interpretations depend on the type of noun
phrase, including preferences that are commonly not acknowledged in the
semantic literature. One goal of this thesis is to offer a semantic and
pragmatic account which captures all the interpretations but can also
explain why some are preferred over others. The explanation is used for
studying the anaphoric expressions `same’, `different’, `others’ and
reciprocals. What these expressions share is their ability to be anaphoric
sentence-internally if there is a semantically plural noun in the clause.
However, the availability of this reading depends on the type of noun
phrase used, in a similar way that preferences in the interpretations do.
Based on these and other data, the thesis offers a novel formal semantic
analysis of reciprocals and argues for a particular semantics of `same’,
`different’ and `others’. It is shown what consequences the analysis has
for our understanding of anaphoricity and plurality.
This study is relevant for scholars working on binding, anaphora, and the
semantics and pragmatics of pluralities. More generally, it is of interest
to scholars in the field of semantics and pragmatics, as well as for
linguists working on the syntax-semantics interface.