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ERIC Number: ED556624
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 225
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3037-3217-1
Anaphoric Descriptions
Beller, Charley
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Johns Hopkins University
The study of definite descriptions has been a central part of research in linguistics and philosophy of language since Russell's seminal work "On Denoting" (Russell 1905). In that work Russell quickly dispatches analyses of denoting expressions with forms like "no man," "some man," "a man," and "every man" before turning to the analysis of phrases containing "the." These last, Russell remarks, are "by far the most interesting and difficult of denoting phrases". This dissertation is meant to be a further step towards understanding the interpretation of definite descriptions and definiteness more broadly. The particular focus is on epithets, phrases like "the jerk" rather than "the man." These are definite descriptions that contain pejorative NPs and have an intuitively pronoun-like interpretation. There are three large issues that this dissertation deals with: definiteness, pejorativity, and prosody. I argue that definite descriptions in English are semantically non-homogeneous. Some encode uniqueness and some, the anaphoric descriptions, encode familiarity (cf. Schwarz's (2009) proposal for German). I further argue that these uses are distinguished prosodically in that unique definites are stressed while familiar definites are unstressed. I develop semantic analyses for lexical and non-lexical pejorativity in nouns, and provide a compositional account that further distinguishes unique and familiar definites. I provide an Optimality Theoretic Prince & Smolensky (2004) account of the obligatory de-stressing of familiar definites. And a dynamic semantic account of a distinct stress phenomenon within pejorative demonstrative descriptions (e.g., "that jerk"). Finally I discuss the implications that such a split definite theory has for the syntactic distribution of definite descriptions, namely that unique descriptions and familiar descriptions are in distinct categories for the purposes of Binding Theory (e.g., Chomsky 1981). I report on a series of survey studies that lend support to this hypothesis. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A