[Japanese | English]
This paper describes the semantics of reasons from the linguistic perspective. In particular, it analyzes reasons as focus-sensitive, modalized entailments and formalizes this using the devices available in the natural language semantics literature. Also it recognizes two types of reasons, namely "motivations" and "purposes", whose distinction reflects the two directions of entailments.
The analysis presented here gives a unified account of the semantics of plural noun phrases as well as of reciprocal and reflexive pronouns, in French and in English. It postulates no hidden operators, no hidden discontinuities and no hidden movement.
Here are the facts. First, both English and French plural noun phrases are liable to collective and distributive construals.
|(1.1)||Bizet and Verdi wrote operas.|
|Bizet et Verdi ont composé les opéras.|
|(1.2)||Russell and Whitehead wrote Principia Mathematica.||Russell et Whitehead ont écrit Principia Mathematica.|
The first sentence is true on the distributive construal but false on the collective one, while the second sentence is true on the collective one but false on the distributive one.
Second, there are construals intermediate between collective and distributive ones.
|(2)||Rodgers, Hammerstein, and Hart wrote musicals.|
|Rodgers, Hammerstein, et Hart ont composé les comédies musicales.|
Neither did Rodgers, Hammerstein, and Hart write musicals individually, on their own, nor did they ever collaborate to write musicals. Rather, Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote musicals and Rodgers and Hart wrote musicals.
Third, every plural noun phrase, no matter what its syntactic position, evinces collective and distributive construals.
|(3)||The children of Mary and of John|
|Les enfants de Marie et de Jean|
The analysis presented accommodates all of the facts set out above.
Semantics Research Group
Sponsored by the Center for Evolutionary Cognitive Sciences at the University of Tokyo
Last modified: 2006-05-22 13:47:09 JST