Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Moreno Mitrović

Illogical disjunction

The spirit of this talk is strongly decompositional and its aim to meditate on the idea that natural language conjunction and disjunction markers do not incarnate Boolean terms like “⋀” and “⋁”, respectively. Drawing from a rich collection of (mostly dead) languages (Ancient Anatolian, Homeric Greek, Tocharian, Slavonic, North-East Caucasian), I will examine the morphosemantics of XOR (exclusive/strong disjunction of the “either...or”-kind) and demonstrate that the morphology of the XOR marker does only contain the disjunction marker (I will call it κ), as one would expect, but that the XOR-expression also contains the conjunction marker (I will call it μ). This exotic fact is prima facie contradictory with regard to what we may think of as Boolean atoms. In this talk, I try to make sense of how & why five grammatical formatives are (derivationally and interpretationally) at play when XOR expressions are concerned.