Seminar of interest on 03/30: Maria Aloni

Maria Aloni (ILLC, University of Amsterdam), the Logic Groups “scholar of consequence” this year, will make an appearance in the semantics seminar on Thursday, March 30, 9:30-12:15 in HBL 2153. The session will begin with a presentation and discussion of her work on (non-)specific indefinites (title and abstract below). The latter part of the session will be devoted to the topic of her Annual Logic Lecture the following day. This is a paper which was discussed in the seminar earlier in the semester. Contact the instructors, Jon Gajewski and Magdalena Kaufmann, for details.

(Non-)specificity across languages: constancy, variation, -variation – Maria Aloni and Marco Degano

Abstract: Indefinites are known to give rise to different scopal (specific vs nonspecific) and epistemic (known vs unknown) uses. Farkas and Brasoveanu [2020] explained these specificity distinctions in terms of stability vs. variability in value assignments of the variable introduced by the indefinite. Typological research [Haspelmath, 1997] showed that indefinites have different
functional distributions with respect to these uses. In this work, we present a formal framework where Farkas and Brasoveanu [2020]’s ideas are rigorously formalized. We develop a two-sorted team semantics which integrates both scope and epistemic effects. We apply the framework to explain typological variety of indefinites, their restricted distribution and licensing conditions, and some diachronic developments of indefinite forms.

D. Farkas and A. Brasoveanu. Kinds of (Non)Specificity. The Wiley Blackwell Companion to Semantics, pages 1–26, 2020.
M. Haspelmath. Indefinite Pronouns. Oxford University Press, 1997.