Linguistics and the Human Sciences, Vol 9, No 2 (2013)

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

Francesco-Alessio Ursini, Nobuagi Akagi
Issued Date: 18 Apr 2014


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.

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DOI: 10.1558/lhs.v9i2.201


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