Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/4619
Title: That’s that: the semantics and pragmatics of demonstrative noun phrases
Authors: Wolter, Lynsey Kay
Keywords: Noun Phrase
Pragmatics
Semantics
Demonstratives
English Language
Issue Date: 2006
Publisher: University of California, Santa Cruz
Abstract: This dissertation analyzes the compositional semantics of demonstrative de­scriptions (e.g. that cat) and demonstrative pronouns (e.g. this) in English. Departing from traditional approaches to the interpretation of demonstrative noun phrases, I argue that demonstrative determiners and pronouns do not have access to special means of achieving reference such as speaker demonstra­tions or referential intentions. Instead, demonstrative determiners are given a semantics that is parallel to the semantics of the definite article, and demon­strative pronouns are treated on a par with third-person pronouns. My central proposal is that demonstrative noun phrases are interpreted relative to non­ default situations, while definite descriptions and third person pronouns are interpreted relative to default situations. A default situation is a situation relative to which the main predicate of a clause is interpreted and the truth value of the clause is calculated. By requiring interpretation relative to a non­ default situation, demonstrative determiners and pronouns in effect indicate that the interpreter must shift the domain in order to identify the referent of the demonstrative noun phrase. The analysis developed in this dissertation recasts some of the insights of previous work on demonstrative noun phrases, which for the most part has focused on deictic uses, as characterizing deixis rather than the lexical semantics of definite determiners and pronouns. This leaves room for the analysis to account for additional data, including anaphoric, bridging and emotive uses of demonstratives, as well as surprising attributive and opaque readings of demonstrative descriptions that are licensed by postnominal modifiers. The analysis also has implications for the semantics of the larger class of definite noun phrases. Because the account depends on a uniqueness condi­tion that is shared by definite noun phrases, it provides further support for uniqueness-based theories of definiteness. Finally, the analysis of demonstra­tive determiners and pronouns contributes to work on the semantics-pragmatics interface by showing that determiners and pronouns may place conditions on the pragmatic phenomenon of contextual domain restriction.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/11707/4619
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