Forests and Trees: the Formal Semantics of Collective Categorization (ROCKY)


6 March 2018
13:15 - 18:00
Room 103, Drift 25, Utrecht

Semantic Debates

ROCKY seminar on reciprocity, collectivity and typicality 

When people say that a certain debate is “semantic”, they often mean that it concerns unimportant terminological issues. In this seminar we address some semantic debates that are hopefully more substantial.

Imke Kruitwagen will review a debate between Godehard Link and Remko Scha on the origins of our understanding of sentences like “the boys are tall”. Is the inference that *each* boy is tall a matter of an implicit universal quantification (Link) or is it the non-logical meaning of the adjective “tall” (Scha)?

Giada Palmieri and Joost Zwarts will discuss a debate between Tanya Reinhart & Tal Siloni and Edit Doron & Malka Rappaport Hovav on the meaning of clitics like SI and SE in Romance languages. Does a sentence like “Gianni e Maria si sposano” (=G. and M. get married) get interpreted the way it is due to a special syntactic operator (R&S) or due to a pronominal interpretation of “si” like the expression “each other” in English (D&RH)?

Eva Poortman will go over a debate between Daniel Osherson & Edward Smith and James Hampton on the reason that objects that we classify as “striped apples” normally do not look like zebras. Is it because of a mechanism for concept composition that differs substantially from traditional logic (Hampton), or is it a non-logical typicality effect (O&S)?

Yoad Winter will review a debate between himself and traditional theories of plurality, including a recent theory by Lucas Champollion, on the meaning of (non-)sentences like “all the boys gathered/*are numerous”. Are the special properties of predicates like “numerous” due to a specialized meaning (Champolllion a.o.), or are they a matter of an arbitrary-looking formal type (Winter)?

In all these discussions, the speakers will explain the empirical predictions of the different approaches in the debates, and the way to decide between them using linguistic experiments and other empirical tests.


13.15-13.30                    coffee

13.30-14.30                    Imke Kruitwagen – the Link/Scha debate

14.30-15.30                    Giada Palmieri and Joost Zwarts – the Reinhart &                                                                        Siloni/Doron & Rappaport Hovav debate

15.30-15.50                    tea

15.50-16.50                    Eva Poortman – the Hampton/Osherson & Smith debate

16.50-17.50                    Yoad Winter – the Winter/Champollion (a.o.) debate

17.50-18.00                    ending remarks


Imke Kruitwagen: Distributivity and reciprocity

Giada Palmieri and Joost Zwarts: The status of reciprocal si in Italian

Eva Poortman: Why do striped apples not look like zebras?

Yoad Winter: Plurality and the Atom-Set Distinction