Standard observations another set of nouns usually takes the indefinite article one set of nouns usually doesn’t take the indefinite article = non-capacity nouns = capacity nouns ProfessionsReligionsNationalities lawyer dictator … jew christian … Belgian American … The rest ex. Hitler was dictator. H was dictator ex. White Fang is een wolf. WF is a wolf
Advanced observations capacity nouns can occur with the indefinite article Marie is een dictator. M is a dictator “Mary has characteristics that we associate with dictators” non-capacity nouns can occur without the indefinite article Ik ben wolf. I am wolve “I play the part of wolve” MARKED USES “non-capacity use” “capacity use”
CAPACITY NOUNSNON-CAPACITY NOUNS NO INDEFINITE ART INDEFINITE ART Hitler was dictator. Hitler was dictator Marie is een dictator. Marie is a dictator Ik ben wolf. I am wolf White Fang is een wolf. WF is a wolf
Overview Goal Improve on the analysis proposed by de Swart, Winter en Zwarts (2007) ● Presentation of de Swart et al. (2007) ● Problem I and its solution ● Problem II and its solution (setup) (role of the Indef. Art.)
II. When occurring in predicate position capacity nouns have to shift to type To do this they have a special type-shift: CAP profession set of people performing the profession religion set of followers nationality set of citizens Sometimes this shift is made explicit: Hij is advocaat van beroep. He is lawyer of profession
III. In presence of a NumP CAP is blocked This is the case when there is an indefinite article (=assumption) How is it then possible for capacity nouns to appear in predicate position ? they are coerced into another e-subtype: KINDS kinds are different from capacities in that they not only group the individuals that perform a certain profession but also those that have the characteristics associated with the profession which can be shifted to type in presence of a NumP: via REL (Realization Operator)
e capacity nouns Capacities CAP [presence of NumP] Kinds REL
Facts central in de Swart et al. (2007) ● Special status of capacity nouns. ● Unmarked reading of capacity nouns. Hitler was dictator. Hitler was dictator (Application of CAP that maps professions to the people that perform it) ● Marked reading of capacity nouns. Marie is een dictator. Mary is a dictator (Coercion into kind + application of REL)
Observation De Swart et al. (2007) treat the “non-capacity” reading of capacity nouns but don’t treat the “capacity” reading of non-capacity nouns.
Question Can it be incorporated into their account ? NO! Reason Non-capacity nouns being of type have no reason to shift when they occur in predicate position. No coercion mechanism can be exploited.
e Capacities non-capacity nouns Kinds CAP (operator creating Kinds)
Solving the problem ● The problem the analysis faces is that it does not foresee a type clash for non-capacity nouns in predicate position. ● Solution: create one. Proposal Non-capacity nouns are generated as type e, subtype ‘kinds’. + (temporary assumption) REL is in some way connected to the presence of NumP
e Capacities non-capacity nouns Kinds REL [with NumP]
e Capacities non-capacity nouns Kinds REL [without NumP] CAP
‘Tiny’ objection Unlike capacity nouns non-capacity nouns cannot be used bare in argument position. How can they then be of type e ? Advocaat is een mooi beroep. Lawyer is a nice profession *Wolf is een bedreigde diersoort. Wolf is an endangered species
‘Tiny’ objection Advocaat is een mooi beroep. Lawyer is a nice profession *Wolf is een bedreigde diersoort. Wolf is an endangered species *De advocaat is een mooi beroep. The lawyer is a nice profession De wolf is een bedreigde diersoort. The wolf is an endangered species Gist of my reply: the bare form of non-capacity nouns is blocked by DPs headed by the definite article. Fair question: why is this not also the case for capacity nouns ?
‘Tiny’ objection Advocaat is een mooi beroep. Lawyer is a nice profession *Wolf is een bedreigde diersoort. Wolf is an endangered species *De advocaat is een mooi beroep. The lawyer is a nice profession De wolf is een bedreigde diersoort. The wolf is an endangered species Gist of my reply: the bare form of non-capacity nouns is blocked by DPs headed by the definite article. Fair question: why is this not also the case for capacity nouns ? Answer: the combination of the definite article with the version of a capacity doesn’t give us a capacity.
e Capacities non-capacity nouns Kinds REL non-capacity nouns with NumP (intensional version of iota)
e Capacities capacity nouns with NumP Kinds REL (intensional version of iota) capacity nouns
e capacity nouns Capacities capacity nouns with NumP Kinds REL iota
Summary In order to derive the ‘capacity’ reading of non-capacity nouns I claimed that non-capacity nouns are generated as expressions of type e, subtype kinds. The analysis, as it stands, can explain both the unmarked and the marked readings of both capacity and non-capacity nouns.
Question Where does this constraint come from ? It doesn’t seem to have a semantic motivation... Recall
Drifting (apparently) further away from semantics... Proposal Non-capacity nouns have a feature that has to be checked. The role of the indefinite article in predicate position is to check it. Question I: Why the indefinite article ? Question II: Why (apparently) only in predicate position ? Wanneer een dictator een land bezoekt zijn er altijd betogingen. When a dictator visits a country there are always manifestations Question III: What happens in other positions ?
Question I: Why the indefinite article ? -> background on articles -> background on kinds
Background on articles (1) Marking argumenthood In languages that have articles they are obligatory in argument position (in as far as they render the same semantics as the bare form) *I have cat. *Man came to see me. Marking uniqueness In languages that distinguish between a definite and an indefinite article the definite article (in the singular) is marked for uniqueness whereas the indefinite article is unmarked. I saw the teacher. I saw a teacher. !!! By not using the definite article the speaker does trigger an implicature of non-uniqueness.
Background on articles (2) both constructions are unmarked for uniqueness both pragmatically imply non-uniqueness wherever both are possible (i.e. in predicate position) the construction with the indefinite article marks non-uniqueness (marked form linked to marked meaning) indefinite article vs. bare form
Background on kinds Kinds are regularities that occur in nature. (Chierchia 1998) Two corollaries: ● their members have to show a sufficiently regular behaviour ● they should – in potential – have more than one member
Question I: Why the indefinite article ? -> background on articles -> background on kinds ● their members have to show a sufficiently regular behaviour ● they should – in potential – have more than one member In predicate position the indefinite article marks non-uniqueness.
Question I: Why the indefinite article ? -> background on articles In predicate position the indefinite article marks non-uniqueness. -> background on kinds Their members should in principle be non-unique. Answer If we assume that the feature present on non-capacity nouns is [-unique] there is a straightforward reason to choose the indefinite article as a checker.
Question II: Why only in predicate position ? Recall Answer Given that the ind. article can only mark non-uniqueness when it’s in competition with the bare form and given that this competition only surfaces in predicate position it can only check [-unique] in predicate position.
Question III: What happens in other positions ? ● The capacity vs. non-capacity distinction is linguistically fully exploited in the domain. ● In the e domain no trace remains (singular kinds are always marked with the definite) ● In the,t> domain there is no grammaticalized way to express the distinction between the two. -> neutralization -> neutralization presupposes the use of kinds (given that they are ‘bigger’ than capacities) -> checking of the [-unique] feature by determiners (linked to the D- projection)
Summary In an attempt to make the appearance of the indefinite article more insightful I explored the possibility to link its presence to the marking of non-uniqueness. Interesting aspects: ● link with standard semantics/pragmatics of the indefinite article ● analysis derives why it’s only in the domain that the indefinite article marks the distinction between capacity and non-capacity nouns (only domain in which the indefinite competes with the bare form) ● analysis derives why the distinction is neutralized in the,t> domain (no grammaticalized way of marking non-uniqueness)
Overview Goal Improve on the analysis proposed by de Swart, Winter en Zwarts (2007) ● non-capacity nouns are generated as type e, subtype kinds ● non-capacity nouns come with a [-unique] feature that has to be checked -> in the domain: indefinite article -> in the,t> domain: vacuously by any determiner