The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 12/01 - Sigrid Beck (University of Tübingen)

Speaker: Sigrid Beck (University of Tübingen)
Title: The emergence of a Generalized Quantifier: English ‘every’
Time: Friday, Dec 1, 3:30pm – 5pm
Location: 32-141

Abstract: The talk investigates the diachronic development of universal quantifiers in English. The etymological source of Present Day English ‘every’, Old English ‘aelc’ is analysed as an indeterminate pronoun. It participates in an alternative semantic system of quantification. I show how during Middle English, this system was reduced and finally lost. A reanalysis as a Generalized Quantifier becomes possible towards the end of the Middle English period. The compositional semantic change is analysed. I argue that interpretive stability at a propositional level is a crucial condition on such semantic change.