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.


References:

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.