The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

ESSL/LFRG 4/10 - Manuel Kriz

Speaker: Manuel Kriz (Vienna/Harvard)
Title: Finding truth-value gaps
Date/Time: Thursday, Apr 10, 5:30-7p
Location: 32-D831

A sentence with a definite plural like (1) has non-complementary truth- and falsity conditions. It is clearly true if John read all of the books, and clearly false if he read none, but if he read exactly half of them, it seems to be neither true nor false.

(1) John read the books.

We develop an experimental method for detecting such a truth-value gap and apply it to sentences where the definite plural is embedded in the scope of a quantifier (as in (2)) to ground empirically recent theoretical approaches to the phenomenon of homogeneity in plural predication.

(2) Every student read the books.

The paradigm we develop is promising also for the study of and comparison between other phenomena, including presuppositions, vagueness, and scalar implicatures.