The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Annual joint Linguistics-Philosophy Colloquium 5/6 - Ofra Magidor (Oxford)

Speaker: Ofra Magidor (Oxford)
Title: Accounting for Copredication: Dual Nature vs. Property Versatility
Time: Friday, May 6, 3:30pm
Location: 32-155


Abstract: Copredication occurs when a sentence receives a true reading despite the fact that, prima facie, it ascribes categorically incompatible properties to a single entity. For example, ‘Lunch was delicious but took hours’ can have a true reading even though it seems that being delicious is only a property of food, while taking hours is only a property of events. Similarly, ‘The red book was written by Tolstoy’ can have a true reading, even though it seems that being red is only a property of physical copies, while being written by Tolstoy is only a property of informational texts. In this talk, I compare two of the central contemporary approaches to the problem: Dual Nature approaches (defended among others by Asher, Chatzikyriakidis & Luo, and Gotham), according to which books, for example, are hybrid objects incorporating both physical and informational components; and the Property Versatility approach (defended by Liebesman and Magidor) according to which nouns such as ‘book’ or ‘lunch’ may receive multiple readings, but the properties expressed in copredicational sentences apply to a wider range of objects than is often assumed.