Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

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

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Summary Details

Query:   The Specifics of Specificity
Author:  Rebecca Larche Moreton
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Semantics

Summary:   Dear LINGUIST Listers:

Whew! I feel better already! I see I'm not the only one confused by
specificity, AND that there are lots of people working on it. A great
many people have responsed to my inquiry (LINGUIST 9-1578) on
specificity and its relationship(s) to definiteness. Several gave
references to their own recent work, usually with some discussion;
from these, I learned that specificity is primarily a semantic rather
than a structural matter; I was looking in the wrong places. Other
responders listed sources they had found helpful, with some commentary
on the approaches and the depth of the analyses. The rest just asked
me to be sure to summarize. It is for this latter group that I list
below all the references received. The references are given without
comment since I have not yet consulted them.

Bechwith, Chris. 'Non-specification and classification in Uzbek,'
Anthropological Linguistics, l998, 40 (1) pp. 124-140 (esp.pp

Chalker, Sylvia. 1984. Current Englisn Grammar. Macmillan. Pp.52-55.

Cormack, Annabel, and Ruth Kempson, 'On specificity,' in Jay L.Garfield
and Murray Kiteley, eds., The essential readings in modern semantics.'
Paragon House. Pp. 546-581.

Dahl, Oesten. 1988. 'The role of deduction
rules in semantics,' J. of Semantics 6(1), pp. 1-18.
Eisenberg, Peter. 1994. Grundriss der deutschen Grammatik. Stuttgart,
Weimar. (see pp.164 ff.)

Enc, Murvet. 1991. 'The semantics of specificity,' Linguistic Inquiry 22,
pp. 1-25.(Most-mentioned reference.)

Farkas, Donka F. 'Specificity and scope,' paper given at Langues et
grammaires I (email to farkas@ling.ucsc.edu).

Frawley, William. l992. Linguistic semantics. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.

Haspelmath, Martin. 1997. Indefinite pronouns. Oxford University Press.

Jackendoff, Ray. 1983. Semantics and cognition.

Kaplan, Jeffrey. English grammar: principles and facts.

Kiefer, F.,ed. Semantik und generative Grammatik I. Frankfurt. (see

Kiyoshi, Ishikawa. 1996. 'Individuation and reasoning,' in Logic,
Language, and Computation, vol. 1, ed. by Jerry Seligman and Dag
Westerstahl. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

_________. 1998. A Network Theory of Reference. Bloomington: Indiana
Linguistics Club.

Lyons, John. 1997. Semantics. Vol 1 (see p. 188).

Nadasdi, Terry. (Dissertation; information at

__________. 1995. (Article in Language Variation and Change, vol.7,

Newman, Michael. 1997. Epicene pronouns. (In a volume edited by Garland.)

Pan, Haihua. 'The semantic content of noun phrases,' in Xu, Liejiong,'The
referential properties of noun phrases,' downloadable at:

Rheinhart, Tanya. Recent (1997-8) paper from Language and Philosophy on
'choice functions.'

Roberts, Lawerence E. 1993. How reference works. SUNY Press. (see Ch.5)

Schaeffer, Jeanette C. 'Direct object scrambling in Dutch and Italian
child language.' (1997 dissertation.)

Thanks to all who wrote.

Rebecca Larche Moreton
301 South Ninth Street
Oxford, MS 38655


LL Issue: 10.12
Date Posted: 05-Jan-1999
Original Query: Read original query


Sums main page