Item Details

The interpretation of plural definites in discourse: the case of spatial adpositions

Issue: Vol 9 No. 2 (2013)

Journal: Linguistics and the Human Sciences

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v9i2.201


In this paper we offer a study on the interpretation of plural definites in discourse (‘the tank engines’) and their interaction with spatial adpositions (‘to’ and ‘at’). The novel empirical findings in the paper support the following assumptions on the contribution of spatial adpositions to the interpretation of plural definites. First, the interpretation of plural definites can be influenced by the lexical aspect type of adpositions. While ‘to’ as ‘telic’ predicate can license both a ‘collective’ and a ‘distributive’ reading for plural definites, ‘at’ as an ‘atelic’ predicate only licenses a ‘collective’ reading. Second, the precise lexical content of adpositions determines which interpretation is accessed. It is claimed that ‘at’ denotes a ‘general location’ relation between locatum and landmark object, and thus licenses a collective reading for plural definites.

Author: Francesco-Alessio Ursini, Nobuagi Akagi

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