The Busy Lives of Quantifier Particles
Language & Logic
Week One - 14.00-15.30 - Level: A
Many languages transparently build quantifiers such as `everyone’ and `someone’ using particles that otherwise occur as propositional connectives, scalar and additive particles, question markers, existential verbs, and so on. Japanese, Sinhala, Russian, and Hungarian are among those languages. I dub the particles “quantifier particles” and refer to them generically with capitalized versions of the Japanese morphemes, MO and KA. Do the particles have a stable semantics across the varied environments, or do their meanings merely bear a family resemblance?
This course explores a unified semantics for MO and KA across their various roles. The specific analysis is grounded in the fact that MO and KA often combine with just one argument. Their role is to impose semantic requirements (postsuppositions), which are satisfied when the immediately larger context is interpreted as the meet/join of their host’s semantic contribution with something else. The proposal will be formalized using the toolkit of Inquisitive Semantics.
The course will assume familiarity with notions like least upper bound (join), greatest lower bound (meet), standard treatments of quantifiers and questions, the elements of Inquisitive Semantics, and an interest in working with cross-linguistic data.