Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Paula Menéndez-Benito (Göttingen)

Epistemic indefinites, again

Epistemic indefinites signal that the speaker does not know which individual satisfies the existential claim (see Alonso-Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito 2015 and references therein). For instance, (1), with the Spanish epistemic indefinite ?algún", says (i) that María is dating a student in the department, and (ii) that the speaker does not know who.

1) María está saliendo con algún estudiante del departamento. (AO&MB 2010)

María is dating with algún student of-the department

Focusing on "algún", this talk examines two types of accounts of epistemic indefinites - the domain constraints account (e.g., Alonso-Ovalle and Menéndez-Benito 2008, 2010; Falaus 2009, 2010; Chierchia 2013) and the conceptual covers account (Aloni and Port 2010/2013). We will conclude that neither theory can capture the full range of data, and will explore an alternative way to go that combines insights from both approaches.


Aloni, M. and A. Port (2013). Epistemic Indefinites Crosslinguistically. In Y. Fainleib, N. LaCara and Y. Park (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 41, Amherst, MA: GLSA.

Alonso Alonso-Ovalle, Luis and Paula Menéndez-Benito, eds. (2015). Epistemic Indefinites. Oxford University Press.

Alonso-Ovalle, Luis and Paula Menéndez-Benito (2010). ?Modal Indefinites?. Natural Language Semantics 18(1), 1?31.

Alonso-Ovalle, Luis and Paula Menéndez-Benito (2008). ?Minimal Domain Widening?. In Natasha Abner and Jason Bishop (eds.), Proceedings of the 27th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics.

Chierchia, Gennaro (2013). Logic in Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Falaus, Anamaria. (2009). Polarity items and dependent indefinites in Romanian: Université de Nantes dissertation.

Falaus, Anamaria (2014). (Partially) Free Choice of Alternatives. Linguistics and Philosophy, 37(2):121?173.