A (Non-)Uniform Approach to Pronominal Semantics
Patrick Grosz & Sarah Zobel
Language & Logic
Week One - 17.00-18.30 - Level: A
The question addressed by this course is whether the traditional class of pronouns can be given a uniform semantic analysis. We explore the apparent semantic disunity of pronouns and address issues of a possible reunification. We start with an introduction to the semantics of 3rd person pronouns (e.g. he/she/it). Based on this introduction, we discuss issues that emerge from: 1. 1st/2nd person pronouns (e.g. I/you), 2. demonstrative pronouns (e.g. German der/die/das ‘that’), and 3. indefinite pronouns (e.g. somebody, one).
- In discussing 3rd vs. 1st/2nd person pronouns, we address issues that arise from the view that the latter are intrinsically deictic, an assumption challenged by apparently bound uses of 1st/2nd person pronouns.
- While 3rd person pronouns and demonstrative pronouns are often subsumed under the label definite pronouns, we evaluate evidence that they may vary in their structural make-up and be subject to different processing mechanisms (deep vs. surface anaphora).
- In contrast to personal and demonstrative pronouns, indefinite pronouns are traditionally analyzed as quantifying expressions. We discuss systematic indefinite uses of 1st/2nd person pronouns (unavailable for 3rd person pronouns); these challenge a strict opposition of referential vs. indefinite pronouns and a unified treatment of 3rd vs. 1st/2nd person pronouns.