Overt distributivity in algebraic event semantics

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Lucas Champollion


This is the second in a pair of papers that aim to provide a comprehensive analysis of the semantic phenomenon of distributivity in natural language. This paper describes and explains observable cross-linguistic differences in overt distributive items in the framework of Neo-Davidsonian algebraic event semantics. The previous paper, Champollion 2016, postulated two covert distributivity operators, D and Part, in the grammar, even though the semantic effects of D can be subsumed under the workings of Part. This paper motivates the split by arguing that distance-distributive items across languages are in essence overt versions of these operators. For example, English each lexicalizes D while German jeweils lexicalizes Part. For this reason, jeweils occurs in a wider range of distributive environments, including distribution over salient occasions. The proposed analysis explains why distributive items that can also be used as determiners, such as each and every, never allow distribution over occasions. It also accounts for the ability of these determiners to take part in cumulative readings and to interact with nondistributive event modifiers. The paper and its companion include an explicit proposal for the compositional process in event semantics.

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Lucas Champollion, New York University

Department of Linguistics, Assistant Professor