Logic and Language

Marco Degano: How to be Specific

Speaker: Marco Degano
Title: How to be Specific
Time: 16:00 - 17:30
Location: In person and online

Location: in person and online

This talk will take place in a hybrid format.



Joint work with Maria Aloni.

Indefinites are known to give rise to different scopal (specific vs non-specific) and epistemic (known vs unknown) interpretations:

(1)    a. Specific known (SK): Someone called. I know who.
         b. Specific unknown (SU): Someone called. I don’t know who.
         c. Non-specific (NS): You can ask someone else.

Typological research (Haspelmath 1997) showed that marked indefinites have different functional distributions with respect to the readings in (1). Recent work (Farkas and Brasoveanu 2020) explained these specificity distinctions in terms of stability vs. variability in value assignments of the variable introduced by the indefinite. In this talk we (a) present a team semantics where Farkas and Brasoveanu (2020)’s ideas are rigorously formalized using tools from dependence logics (Väänänen 2007); (b) apply the framework to explain typological variety andproprieties of marked indefinites and, time-permitting, (c) account for meaning anddistribution of so-called epistemic indefinites (Alonso Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito 2015)with a focus on the German irgend-.