The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LF Reading Group 11/21 - Keny Chatain (MIT)

Speaker: Keny Chatain (MIT)
Title: “The same” = the + same ?
Date and time: Wednesday, November 21, 1-2 pm
Location: 32-D461


This is work in progress on the semantics of same; I will need your indulgent feedback! Some authors (Barker 2007, a.o.) have puzzled at the obligatory presence of the in (1-3), whose effect on the semantics is not readily detectable, and is unnecessary given certain assumptions about the meaning of same. If this is so, then same enters a small family of operators (along with superlatives, and only), which mysteriously seem to weaken the standard Fregean presupposition of the definite.

(1) Alison praised the same poet as Carlos.
(2) Alison and Carlos praised the same poet.
(3) Every librarian praised the same poet.

In light of this problem, Charnavel (2011) notices a peculiarity of French: in a limited set of environments, French allows a same “un même”. One crucial difference that Charnavel reports between French a same and the same is a (barely recognizable) Fregean presupposition. Building off of this observation, I will: a) identify the detectable contribution the makes to (1-3) in English, using NPI data, b) show that in a scoping account of same à la Barker, this contribution is readily derived from nothing but the standard semantics of the. Finally, I will present some ideas for unifying the use of same in (1) and in (2-3).