Semantics Research Group Meeting, September 25, 2009

[Japanese | English]

4:30pm, September 25, 2009
National Institute of Informatics (National Center of Sciences Bldg.),
20th floor, Seminar Room 1 (2006)
Takuro Tanaka, Nihon University
Interpretations of Incremental Theme
This paper investigates a system of interpretation of quantifiers in
Japanese. (1) has just a interpretation mentioning the number of books
which John read. In a case of Floating Quantifier in (2), however, two
different interpretations are available; One interpretation mentions
the number of books which John read as in (1), and the other is about
the part of a book which John already read.

(1) John-wa {sukoshi/takusan/hotondo/subete}-no hon-wo yonda
(2) John-wa hon-wo {sukoshi/takusan/hotondo/subete} yonda

The second reading in (2) comes from the fact that Japanese noun
phrases have no distinction between singular and plural forms. The
interpretation is highlighted when you put a definite determiner in
front of a relevant noun phrase to pick up a particular book as in

(3) John-wa sono hon-wo {sukoshi/takusan/hotondo/subete} yonda

The second reading in (2) is similar to the interpretation of
so-called Incremental Theme (Dowty 1991). As for an interpretation of
Incremental Theme, Rothstein (2004) suggests that Incremental Theme is
an argument of accomplishment verbs, and such verbs can lexically
decomposed into two separate parts: ACT-verb for an action and
BECOME-verb for a result state. In this paper, I apply Rothstein's
analyses to Japaense Floating Quantifiers, and make suggestions to
explain how such two different interpretations go on.

Semantics Research Group

Last modified: 2009-09-11 15:11:59 JST