Sentence Making

| December 9, 2015

Sentence Making
Order Description

Write the truth conditions of each of the following sentences, in terms of possible worlds (you can write out the truth conditions in words rather than translating the sentences into predicate logic).

a. Sam has to wake up at 4:00 tomorrow.

b. If Sam wakes up late tomorrow, he might miss his train.
c. If it snows on Monday, the event will be cancelled.

d. Either the event is cancelled, or we have to move it indoors.

Now, translate the following statements into predicate logic. If the sentence contains a scope ambiguity, give a distinct predicate logic translation corresponding to each possible interpretation. If the sentence is not ambiguous, give the two possible translations, and indicate which of the two is not a possible interpretation.

e. Everyone must not leave the house.

f. Possibly, someone will volunteer for the job.
(2) (25/100 marks)

For each of the following sentences, (i) give the closest translation of the sentence into predicate logic. Then (ii) describe what aspect of what the sentence conveys that is not captured by predicate logic, stating what aspect of the situation/context one would have to understand in order to arrive at the intended meaning.

a. You can request an appointment. (In response to someone saying: I demand to see the dean!)

b. He’s not the brightest child in the world. (You can treat “brightest-child-in-the-world” as a single predicate.)
c. She’s delighted. (Referring to someone who appears to be extremely disappointed about something just announced.)
d. Look at those storm clouds. (In response to someone asking: Are you going to take your umbrella?)
e. May I? (Café server about to pick up your nearly empty coffee cup. Treat this question as a declarative for the purpose of translating into predicate logic.)
(3) (50/100 marks)

Sentences like (i) have been the subject of much debate in the semantics and pragmatics literature. In particular, (i) is said to convey both (ii) and (iii):

(i) Lina only reads The Guardian.
(ii) Lina reads The Guardian.
(iii) Lina doesn’t read anything other than The Guardian (for news).

While it is agreed that (i) entails (iii), the debate has centred around the status of (ii). (ii) was originally analysed as a presupposition of (i) (Horn 1969, 1992), but others have since argued that it is an entailment of (i) (Atlas 1991, 1993). More recently, (ii) has also been argued to be a conversational implicature of (i) (Ippolito 2008).

Using the various tests at your disposal, along with your understanding of these three kinds of sentential relations, argue for one of the three (Does (i) entail, presuppose, or implicate (ii)?). Be sure to support your argumentation with appropriate examples, and provide arguments against the other two analyses. (Note: references provided here are not to be used as a basis for your arguments. Use your own arguments and intuitions.)

Horn, L. 1969. A presuppositional analysis of ‘only’ and ‘even’. In Papers from the Fifth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistics Society. CLS. Chicago, IL.

Atlas, J.D. 1991. Topic/comment, presupposition, logical form and focus stress implicatures: The case of focal particles only and also. Journal of Semantics 8: 127-147.

Horn, L. 1992. The said and the unsaid. In Barker, C. & Dowty, D. (eds.), Proceedings of the Second Conference on Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT II). Ohio State University. Columbus, OH.
Atlas, J.D. 1993. The importance of being only: testing the neo-Gricean versus neo-entailment paradigms. Journal of Semantics 10: 301–18. Ippolito, M. 2008. On the meaning of only. Journal of Semantics 25: 45-91.

model books
Semantics – John I. Saeed 2009
Book Core text
Introduction to pragmatics – Betty J. Birner 2013
Book Core text
Meaning and grammar: an introduction to semantics – Gennaro Chierchia, Sally McConnell-Ginet 2000
Book Recommended

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