LINGUIST List 9.1144

Mon Aug 17 1998

Books: Semantics

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>

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  1. Rebecca Wipfler, Semantics

Message 1: Semantics

Date: 13 Aug 98 10:05:44 -0500
From: Rebecca Wipfler <>
Subject: Semantics

Yeom, Jae-Il; A Presuppositional Analysis of Specific
Indefinites:Common Grounds as Structured Information States;
0-8153-3175-4, cloth; pages, $65; Garland Publishing; Outstanding
Dissertations in Linguistics

	A specific indefinite presupposes that someone has in mind an
individual who has the property denoted by its descriptive
content. Having an individual in mind means that the agent knows who
the referent is, and thus it affects the information state of the
agent, but not the others. The asymmetric information, shared by all
participants in a conversation, cannot be represented when the common
ground has only one information state. Thus a common ground must have
multiple information states, each for each participant in a
conversation. The information state of the agent who has an individual
in mind must be differentiated from the others' by being structured
into sub-information-states so that each sub-information-state
associates the specific indefinite with a different unique
individual. It then conveys the information that the agent has some
individual in mind, but that it is not known yet who it is. This
analysis thus requires a new dynamic semantics which is partially
representational and partially denotational. This leads to a new
analysis of proper names. Specific indefinites tend to have widest
scope, which is explained by claiming that specific indefinites
trigger presuppositions. Presuppositions are assumed to have various
scopes with respect to operators in a sentence, and the strongest
reading is preferred on rational and economic basis. It is shown that
stronger readings roughly correspond to wider scopes. This book will
be of interest to scholars who work on indefinite NPs,
presuppositions, anaphora in belief contexts, and dynamic semantics in

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