Pluralities across categories and plural projection

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Viola Schmitt


This paper proposes an extension of the class of plural expressions, a generalized analysis of the denotations of such expressions and a novel account of how they semantically combine with other elements in the sentence. The point of departure is the observation that definite plural DPs and and-coordinations with coordinates of several semantic categories share certain features — in particular cumulativity—in the context of other plural expressions. Existing analyses of conjunction fail to derive these parallels and I propose that and-coordinations should be analyzed as denoting pluralities (of whatever kind of semantic object their conjuncts denote). This, in turn, raises the question of how pluralities combine with other material in the sentence. I show that a simple expansion of the standard analysis thereof, which puts the workload onto the predicate, is insufficient. I propose an alternative which is based on the idea that all semantic domains contain pluralities and involves plural projection. In this system, the truth-conditions of sentences containing plurality-denoting expressions are not due to the semantic expansion of the predicate (as in existing analyses), but the result of a step-by-step process: Once a plurality enters the derivation, the node immediately dominating it will also denote a plurality, namely of the values obtained by a particular combination of the plurality and the denotation of its sister.

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Viola Schmitt, University of Vienna