Group distributivity and the interpretation of indefinites
- Hanna de Vries (see profile)
- Linguistics, Semantics
- Item Type:
- Linguistic semantics
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- This paper argues that lexical and operator-based analyses of distributivity are not in conflict, but should exist alongside each other to get a full account of all the relevant data. We use several contrasts between plural definites (e.g. 'the girls') and group NPs (e.g. 'the group of girls') to show that we need an operator-based analysis of distributivity; this kind of distributivity is available with plural definites but not with group subjects, which can be explained under the common assumption that group NPs denote atoms rather than sums and hence do not allow quantification over their individual parts. At the same time, we need a lexical theory of distributivity to account for the various distributive interpretations that we do find with groups. // The distributive interpretation of sentences like "The team is wearing an orange vest" provides a challenge to this story, but only if the indefinite 'an orange vest' is analysed as a quantifier. We argue, however, that it should be analysed as a property, and that the distributive interpretation is actually a case of two-place lexical distributivity over a property and a group. Support for this non-quantificational analysis comes from the observation that the class of predicates that allows a distributive interpretation in these contexts seems to be precisely the class of 'incorporation predicates' (Le Bruyn, De Swart & Zwarts 2015) that allow bare complements in many languages.
- This manuscript is an extended version of De Vries (2017, NLS). I originally intended to rework the second half into another journal paper, but never got around to it. I'd still recommend it to anyone interested in the relation between semantic incorporation and non-quantificational distributivity, as its analysis of the indefinite data makes much more sense than the one I proposed in my 2014 NELS proceedings paper.
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