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Meaning and Grammar

An Introduction to Semantics
Gennaro Chierchia and Sally McConneii-Ginet

second edition

The MIT Press

Cambridge, Massachusetts
London, England
© 1990, 2000 Massachusetts Institute of Technology For Isa and for Carl
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic
or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, and information storage and
retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher.

This book was set in Melior and Helvetica Condensed by Asco Typesetters, Hong Kong,
and was printed and bound in the United States of America.

Second edition, first printing, 2 000

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Chierchia, Gennaro.
Meaning and grammar : an introduction to semantics / Gennaro Chierchia and
Sally McConnell-Ginet. - 2nd ed.
p. em.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-262-03269-4 (alk. paper).- ISBN 0-262-53164-X (pbk. : alk. paper)
1. Semantics. 2. Semantics (Philosophy) I. McConnell-Ginet, Sally. II. Title.
P325.C384 2000
401'.43-dc21 99-20030

Preface ix
Preface to the Second Edition xiii

The Empirical Domain of Semantics

2 General Constraints on Semantic Theory 6
3 Implication Relations 17
4 More Semantic Relations and Properties 33
5 Summary 52

2 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 53

Introduction 53
2 Denotation 55
3 Truth 69
4 Problems 99

3 Quantification and Logical Form 113

Introduction 113
2 Quantification in English 147
3 Logical Form (It) 187

4 Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 195

Introduction 195
2 Expression Meaning and Speaker's Meaning 196
3 Sentential Force and Discourse Dynamics 212
4 Speech Acts 220
5 Conversational Implicature 239

5 lntensionality 257
Introduction 257
2 !PC: An Elementary Intensional Logic 266
3 Some Intensional Constructions in English 219
4 Problems with Belief Sentences 318
Contents viii Preface

6 Contexts: lndexicality, Discourse, and Presupposition 329

Introduction 329
2 lndexicals 330
3 Presuppositions and Contexts 349
4 Projecting Presupposlfions Recursively 365

7 Lambda Abstraction 391

An Elementary Introduction to Lambda Abstraction 391 There are many phenomena that could reasonably be included in
2 Semantics via Translation 398 the domain of semantic theory. In this book we identify some
3 VP Disjunction and Conjunction 407 of them and introduce general tools for semantic analysis that
4 Relative Clauses 415 seem promising as components of a framework for doing research
5 VPAnaphora 420 in natural language. Rather than discussing the many diverse
6 Conclusions 429 approaches to meaning that have been proposed and are currently
pursued, we focus on what has come to be known as logical, truth-
8 Word Meaning 431 conditional, or model-theoretic semantics. This general approach
Introduction 431 to meaning was developed originally within the tradition of logic
2 Semantic Analysis of Words 436 and the philosophy of language and over the last twenty years or so
3 Modifiers 458 has been applied systematically to the study of meaning in natural
4 More on Verbal Semantics 472 languages, due especially to the work of Richard Montague.
5 Semantic Imprecision 482 As we will see, logical semantics as currently conceived leaves
many problems with no solution. The role of semantics in a gram-
9 Generalized Quantifiers 501 mar is the center of much controversy. And the relation between
The Semantic Value of NPs 501 syntax and semantics is still not well understood, especially within
2 PCsa and f4 507 some of the research paradigms currently dominant (including the
3 Generalized Conjunction 511 one we adopt in this book). Nevertheless, we think that research in
4 Generalized Quantifiers and Empirical Properties of Language 517 logical semantics has generated enough results to show that there
5 Concluding Remarks 527 are fundamental empirical properties of language that cannot be
properly understood without such an approach to meaning. The
Appendix: Set-Theoretic Notation and Concepts 529 present book can be viewed as an attempt to substantiate this claim.
Notes 541 We have tried to keep prerequisites at a minimum. The reader
References 549 will find helpful some minimal acquaintance with syntactic theory,
Index 559 such as what can be acquired from an elementary introduction like
Radford (1988). Basic set-theoretic notions and notational con-
ventions are presented in an appendix. We. do not assume any
knowledge of formal logic, presenting what is needed directly in
the text. Each logical tool is first introduced directly and then
applied to relevant areas of natural language semantics. For exam-
ple, in chapter 2 we present the basic semantic concepts associated
with propositional logic without quantification. We then describe
the syntax of a small fragment of English and use our logical tools
to provide an explicit specification of how this fragment is to be
Preface X Preface xi

interpreted. As we acquire more logical techniques, our fragments ing with a subject matter ridden with controversy and constantly
become progressively richer; that is, the range of structures ana- shifting. Some of the difficulties were in us: writing this up just
lyzed becomes more varied and comprehensive, with later analyses wouldn't fit easily with the rest of our research and lives. There has
building on earlier results. been a lot of back and forth between us on each chapter, although
Those with linguistic backgrounds but no logic will find the for- Sally is primarily responsible for chapters 1, 4, 6, 8, and the
mal techniques new but will recognize many of the kinds of data and appendix and Gennaro for chapters 2, 3, 5, 7, and 9. The organiza-
arguments used in application of these new techniques to linguistic tion of the material reflects closely the way we have come to like
phenomena. The syntax of our fragments is designed to employ as to teach semantics; we can only hope· that others may also find it
far as possible widely shared syntactic assumptions. Those with useful. Teachers may wish to omit parts of the book or to supple-
backgrounds in logic but not linguistics will probably encounter ment it with readings from some of the classic papers in semantics.
unfamiliar facts about language and ways in which logic can be We have been helped in various ways by many people. Erhard
used in empirical arguments. We also introduce a few of the most Hinrichs put an enormous amount of work into commenting on a
accessible and interesting ideas from recent research to give the previous draft; only our recognition that he should not be held re-
reader some exposure to current work in semantics. Our hope is sponsible for our mistakes kept us from co-opting him as coauthor.
that the material presented here will give a fair idea of the nature of Craige Roberts has also provided us with a wealth of helpful and
semantic inquiry and will equip the reader interested in pursuing detailed comments. Leslie Porterfield and Veneeta Srivastav have
these topics with the tools needed to get rapidly into what is now directly inspired many improvements of substance and form at
happening in the field. various stages; Leslie did most of the work involved in preparing
The fragment technique we have adopted from Dowty, Wall, and the separately available answers to the exercises. Much good
Peters (1980), and our presentation, though different in many re- advice and help also came from Nirit Kadmon, Fred Landman,
spects, owes much to their work. We use this technique not be- Alice ter Meulen, Bill McClure, Steve Moore, Carl Vikner, Adam
cause we think it is the only way to do semantics but because it Wyner, and our students in introductory semantics at Cornell and
seems to us pedagogically so very useful. Fragments force us to at the 1987 LSA Summer Institute at Stanford (where Gennaro used
show just how the formal theory will work for a very small part of a a draft of the book in the semantics course he taught). Many other
natural language. To understand how logical tools can be trans- friends and colleagues have encouraged us as we worked on this
ferred to linguistic semantics and why they might be useful, some book. We have each also been supported by our families; our
experience with this kind of detailed formulation seems essential. spouses in particular have been very close to us through the ups
For much the same reasons we also provide exercises throughout and downs of this project.
the text. Readers need to try out for themselves the techniques we We have written this book for the same reasons we chose this
are introducing in order to appreciate what is involved in their field for a living: we want to be rich and famous.
application to natural language semantics.
In presenting this material, we have also tried to explore the in-
teraction of meaning with context and use (that is, the semantics-
pragmatics interface) and also to address some of the foundational
questions that truth-conditional semantics raises, especially in
connection with the study of cognition in general. This does not
stem from any ambition to be comprehensive. But in our experi-
ence we find that the truth-conditional approach can be understood
better by trying to set it in a broader perspective.
To put our lecture notes in the present form was no easy task for
us. Some of the difficulties lie in the nature of things: we are deal-
Preface to the Second Edition

When we wrote the first edition of this book, semantics was already
a flourishing field in generative linguistics. Now, almost ten years
later, it is nearing full maturity. There are many results providing
us not only with descriptively adequate accounts of a broad range
of phenomena but also with novel significant insight into them. We
are thinking, for example, of all the work on generalized quanti-
fiers, anaphora and binding, tense and aspect, and polarity phe-
nomena, to mention but a few key topics. The current state of
semantics continues to be very lively. The frontier of the field is
constantly being pushed forward, and one cannot take for granted
any notion or practise. A graduate student walks in, and there come
new ideas about meaning that raise fundamental questions about
previous ways of thinking. We are happy to be living through this
In spite of the continuing infusion of new ideas into linguistic
semantics, a certain number of fundamental notions, arguments,
and techniques seem to keep playing a pivotal role. Because our
text deals with many of these, we were persuaded that there was
some point in updating it a bit. There is, of course, no one best way
of presenting core semantic concepts. Some, for example, like to
start from the structure of the clause and introduce semantic tech-
niques needed to interpret various aspects of it. In this textbook we
instead opted to walk people into the systematic study of linguistic
meaning by matching formal tools with linguistic applications in
increasing order of complexity (from propositional connectives and
truth conditions, to quantification and binding, intens.ionality, and
so on). With all its limits, we and many other teachers find this to
be an effective method of introducing semantic argumentation. It
strikes a reasonable balance of user friendliness versus complete-
ness and makes it possible to combine formal thoroughness with
exploration of the linguistic significance ofbasic concepts and tech-
niques. This general approach is retained in this second edition.
Four chapters have been pretty substantially rewritten. We have
tried to make chapter 3, on variable binding and quantification,
Preface to the Second Edition xiv Preface to the Second Edition xv

somewhat gentler and more user-friendly, though the notions dealt very messy manuscript. And our families gave us June together in
with there probably still remain the hardest to grasp for a beginner. Italy and July together in Ithaca, without which we could not have
Chapter 5, on intensionality, has been changed mostly in the part managed the job.
on tense, but also in the presentation of the semantics of embedded As we mentioned above, part of what made us agree to prepare a
clauses. Chapter 7, on abstraction, has been restructured, partly to second edition was the feeling that in spite of its constant growth,
enhance pedagogical effectiveness and partly in light of recent de- the core of semantics in the generative tradition remains on a fairly
velopments in the understanding of VP anaphora. Finally, chapter solid and stable footing. The death knell has sometimes been
8, on word meaning, has gone through an overhaul that has led to a sounded in recent years for various semantic notions: possible
somewhat different take on questions of lexical decomposition, worlds and types and models and even entailment. But examining
more on event semantics and aspect, and a new section on adverbs. current semantic practice in the relevant empirical domains seems
And we've implemented a few local changes elsewhere. For exam- to show that the concepts in question (or some more or less trivial
ple, following a suggestion by Veneeta Dayal, we have introduced variants thereof) are still thriving. This is not to say that there are
the notion of implicature in chapter 1. We have added a section no foundational disagreements. But in spite of them, semantics is
on type-driven interpretation to chapter 2. We have also exten- an even more vital and cohesive field of inquiry within generative
sionalised the final chapter on generalized quantifiers to allow linguistics than it was when we published the first edition of this
more flexible access to such notions. In its present form, the book text.
has a modular character. After chapter 3, the remaining material Readers of the original preface have probably already guessed the
can be covered pretty much in any order. For example, one can other reason we agreed to prepare a second edition. We still cling to
easily jump from chapter 3 directly to chapter 9 (after a quick look the hope that semantics will some day make us rich and famous.
at sec. 1.1. in chapter 7). Instructors can design their own itinerary.
Revising this book has been like updating an old program that
still runs. One touches things in one place, and a new bug pops up
in some other place. We hope that we have taken all the little bugs
out but we cannot be sure. The whole process has been compli-
cated' not only by what has happened in the field since our first try
but also by having to work across the Atlantic. Our basic process
was the same as before. Sally was the first drafter on the new ver-
sions of chapters 3 and 8 plus the new sections in chapters 1 and 2
and the minor additions to the appendix; Genarro was the first
drafter for the revised chapters 5 and 7 and the modified sections of
chapter 9. Each of us, however, critiqued the other's drafts. The
discussions between us have been not in the least less animated
than they were before.
We are grateful to our friends and colleagues and students, who
have given us feedback over the years. There are many good sug-
gestions we've gotten that we just could not implement, but many
of the improvements we were able to make were inspired by others'
comments. We owe a big debt of gratitude to Amy Brand for her
encouragement in taking up this task and expert help throughout
the process. We also thank Yasuyo Iguchi, who consulted with us
on revising the book's design, and Alan Thwaits, who edited our

Meaning and Grammar

1 The Empirical Domain of Semantics

1 Introduction
Semantics is the branch of linguistics devoted to the investigation
of linguistic meaning, the interpretation of expressions in a lan-
guage system. We do not attempt a comprehensive survey of the
many different approaches to semantics in recent linguistics but
choose instead to introduce a particular framework in some detail.
Many of the concepts and analytical techniques we introduce have
their origins in logic and the philosophy of language; we apply
them to the study of actual human languages.
When we say that our focus is on semantics as a branch of lin-
guistics, we are adopting a particular conception of the methods
and goals of linguistic inquiry. That conception is rooted in the
generative paradigm that began to reshape the field of linguistics in
fundamental ways over forty years ago. Noam Chomsky's Syntactic
Structures, published in 1957, introduced the three key ideas that
we take to be definitive of that paradigm.
The first is the idea that a grammar of a language can be viewed
as a set of abstract devices, rule systems, and principles that serve
to characterize formally various properties of the well-formed sen-
tences of that language. The grammar, in this sense, generates the
language. This idea was already established in the study of various
artificial languages within logic and the infant field of computer
science; what was novel was Chomsky's claim that natural lan-
guages-the kind we all learn to speak and understand in early
childhood-could also be generated by such formal systems. In a
sense, when linguists adopted this view, they adopted the idea that
theoretical linguistics is a branch of (applied) mathematics and in
this respect like contemporary theoretical physics and chemistry.
Few generative linguists, however, would be completely com-
fortable with such a characterization of their discipline. A major
reason for their finding it inadequate lies in the second key idea
Chomsky introduced, namely, that generative grammars are psy-
chologically real in the sense that they constitute accurate models
of the (implicit) knowledge that underlies the actual production
Chapter 1 2 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 3

and interpretation of utterances by native speakers. Chomsky him- generative grammars of formal (artificial) languages are models of
self has never spoken of linguistics as part of mathematics but has the grammars of natural languages, (2) which are realized in human
frequently described it as a branch of cognitive psychology. It is the minds as cognitive systems (3) that are distinct from the directly
application of mathematical models to the study of the cognitive observable human linguistic behavior they help to explain. This
phenomenon of linguistic knowledge that most generative linguists tradition started, as we have noted, with important advances in the
recognize as their aim. Again, the parallel with a science like study of syntax; fairly soon thereafter it bore fruit in phonology.
physics is clear. To the extent that their interest is in mathematical There was important semantic work done by generative grammar-
systems as models of physical phenomena rather than in the formal ians from the early sixties on, but it was not until the end of the
properties of the systems for their own sake, physicists are not sixties that systematic ways of linking the semantic methods de-
mathematicians. A single individual may, of course, be both a veloped by logicians to the generative enterprise were found. In our
mathematician and a linguist (or a physicist). But as linguists, our view, this development constitutes a breakthrough of enormous
focus is on modeling the cognitive systems whose operation in significance, one whose consequences linguists will be exploring
some sense "explains" linguistic phenomena. Linguistics is an for some time. One of our main aims in this book is to introduce the
empirical science, and in that respect it is like physics and unlike concepts and methods that made the breakthrough possible and to
(pure) mathematics. indicate some of the ways logical semantics so conceived contrib-
The third idea we want to draw from the generative paradigm is utes to the generative enterprise in linguistics.
intimately connected to the first two: linguistics cannot be limited We begin by considering some of the linguistic phenomena that
to the documentation of what is said and how it is interpreted- one might ask a semantic theory to account for, the range of data
our actual performance as speakers and hearers-any more that seem at first glance centrally to involve meaning. Our first ob-
than physics can limit its subject matter to the documentation of servation may discourage some readers: there is not total agreement
measurements and meter readings of directly observable physical on exactly which facts comprise that range. But this is hardly sur-
phenomena. The linguistic knowledge we seek to model, speakers' prising. Recent discussions of epistemology and the philosophy of
competence, must be distinguished from their observable linguistic science repeatedly claim that there are no "raw" or "pure" data,
behavior. Both the linguist and the physicist posit abstract theoret- that abstract principles come into play even in preliminary indi-
ical entities that help explain the observed phenomena and predict viduation of a given constellation of facts. Thus, identifying phe-
further observations under specified conditions. nomena is itself inescapably theory-laden. We will try, however, to
The distinction between competence and performance has introduce data here that are bound to our particular theoretical
sometimes been abused and often misunderstood. We want to em- hypotheses only weakly. That is, accounting for (most of) these data
phasize that we are not drawing it in order to claim that linguists seems a goal shared by many different approaches to semantics.
should ignore performance, that observations of how people use A second point to remember is that phenomena that pretheoreti-
language are irrelevant to linguistic theory. On the contrary, the cally involve meaning may prove not to be homogeneous. This too
distinction is important precisely because observations of naturally is unsurprising. Linguists have long recognized the heterogeneity
occurring linguistic behavior are critical kinds of data against of linguistic phenomena and so have divided the study of linguistic
which generative linguists test their theories. They are not, how- forms minimally into phonology and syntax and have further
ever, the only kinds of data available. For example, linguists often articulated each of these fields. And, of course, it is recognized
ask native speakers (sometimes themselves) for intuitive judgments that syntax and phonology themselves interact with other cogni-
as to whether certain strings of words in a given language constitute tive systems and processes in explaining, for example, how people
a well-formed or grammatical sentence of that language. Such arrange and pronounce words in producing utterances. Similarly,
judgments are also data, but they seldom come "naturally." the study of meaning is bound to be parcelled out to a variety of
Our approach to semantics lies in the generative tradition in the disciplines and perhaps also to different branches of linguistics. A
sense that it adopts the three key ideas sketched above: ( 1) that major aim of this book is to explore the question of how linguistic
Chapter 1 4 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 5

investigations of meaning interact with the study of other cognitive not understand what Molly means in uttering that sentence unless
systems and processes in our coming better to understand what we also know why she has bothered to utter it in the particular
is involved in the production and interpretation of utterances by surroundings in which she and her addressee are placed-in this
native speakers of a language. case, whether she is trying to do more than update her addressee
It seems very likely that certain aspects of utterance meaning fall on her internal state. Pragmatios is the study of situated uses of
outside the realm of semantic theorizing. It has been argued, for language, and it addresses such questions as the status of utter-
example, that some aspects of meaning are primarily to be ex- ances as actions with certain kinds of intended effects. Since direct
plained in terms of theories of action. Several different sorts of experience with interpretation of language is experience with in-
pragmatic theory adopt this approach. Speech act theories, for terpreting uses, however, we cannot always be sure in advance
example, focus on what people are doing in producing utter- which phenomena will fall exclusively in the domain of semantics
ances: asserting, questioning, entreating, and so on. Such theories and which will turn out to require attention to pragmatic factors
can help explain how people manage to mean more than they as well.
actually say by looking at the socially directed intentional actions As our adoption of the generative paradigm implies, we take lin-
of speakers. guistics to include not only the study of languages and their inter-
Here is an example where what is meant might go beyond the pretations as abstract systems but also the study of how such
meaning of what is said. Suppose Molly is at a restaurant and says systems are represented in human minds and used by human
to her waiter, "I'd like a glass of water." In a clear sense Molly has agents to express their thoughts and communicate with others.
not directly. asked the waiter to bring her a glass of water, yet she Thus we develop our semantic theory with a view to its interaction
means much the same thing by her utterance as if she had said, with a pragmatic theory. We will consider not only what linguistic
"Bring me a glass of water." But if Molly utters "I'd like a glass of expressions themselves mean (semantics in the strict sense) but
water" to her hiking companions as they ascend the final hundred also what speakers mean in using them (pragmatics). In this chap-
feet of a long trail from the bottom to the top of the Grand Canyon, ter, unless a distinction is explicitly drawn, semantic(s) should be
the interpretation is different. In the latter case she probably means thought of as shorthand for semantic(s)/pragmatic(s).
simply to report on her desires and not to make a request of her For most of our initial discussion we can safely ignore the im-
fellow hiker. How do we know this? Presumably in part because we portant theoretical distinction between interpreted linguistic forms
know that Molly cannot be expecting her words to move her walk- on the one hand (what, say, the English sentence "I'd like a glass
ing companion to produce a glass of water for her, whereas she of water" means) and interpreted utterances on the other (what
might well intend those same words so to move the waiter in the Molly's utterance of "I'd like a glass of water" means). The issue
restaurant. This knowledge has to do with our experience of res- of just how semantics should be related to more pragmatically
taurants and hiking trails and with general expectations about oriented theories of information processing is wide open, however,
people's motives in speaking to one another. and we will return to it at various points.
Understanding what Molly means by her utterance to a particular What should semantics, broadly construed, take as its subject
addressee seems, then, to involve at least two different kinds of matter? The rest of this chapter addresses this question. Our dis-
knowledge. On the one hand, we must know the meaning of what cussion is intended not to be exhaustive but only indicative of the
she has explicitly said-in this case, what the English sentence "I'd range of language-related phenomena relevant to inquiry about
like a glass of water" means. Roughly, semantics can be thought of meaning.
as explicating aspects of interpretation that depend only on the The third section of this chapter considers implication relations
language system and not on how people put it to use. In slightly between sentences that speakers seem to recognize on the basis of
different terms we might say that semantics deals with the in- their knowledge of meaning. The fourth and final section con-
terpretation of linguistic expressions, of what remains constant siders a number of other semantic properties and refations that
whenever a given expression is uttered. On the other hand, we will speakers' intuitive judgments reveal, some of which are in some
Chapter 1 6
The Empirical Domain of Semantics 7

sense parasitic on implication relations. Such judgments are often

ten system) and how to sum single digits, and we are then in busi-
very subtle, and learning how to tap semantic intuitions reliably
ness. By the same token, we presumably understand a sentence like
and discriminate among the distinct phenomena that give rise to
( 1) because we know what the single words in it mean (what pink
them is an important part of learning to do semantics. In a real
and whale mean, for example) and we have an algorithm of some
sense, such intuitive judgments constitute the core of the empirical
kind for combining them. Thus part of the task of semantics must
data against which semantic theories must be judged.
be to say something about what word meaning might be and some-
thing about the algorithms for combining those word meanings to
arrive at phrasal and sentential meanings.
2 General Constraints on Semantic Theory
Whatever linguistic meaning is like, there must be some sort of
Before we can fruitfully consider particular varieties of intuitive
compositional account of the interpretation of complex expressions
judgments of semantic properties and relations, we need to con-
as composed or constructed from the interpretations of their parts
sider some general properties of semantic competence.
and thus ultimately from the interpretations of the (finitely many)
simple expressions contained in them and of the syntactic struc-
tures in which they occur. We will speak of the simplest expres-
2.1 The productivity of linguistic meaning
sions as words, except when we want to recognize semantically
It is a familiar but no less remarkable fact that indefinitely many
relevant morphological structure internal to words. Sentences are
syntactically complex linguistic expressions in a language can have
complex expressions of special importance, but smaller phrases are
linguistic meanings associated with them. This is simply the
also semantically relevant. We also briefly look at interpretive
semantic analogue of the fact that indefinitely many complex lin-
phenomena that go beyond single sentences and involve discourse.
guistic expressions can be classed as syntactically well-formed by
In theory the semantically relevant structure of a complex ex-
the grammar.
pression like a sentence might bear little or no relation to the syn-
We have no trouble whatsoever in grasping the meaning of sen-
tactic structure assigned to it on other linguistic grounds (on the
tences even if we have never encountered them before. Consider
basis, for example, of grammaticality judgments and intuitions
( 1) I saw a pink whale in the parking lot. about syntactic constituency). In practice, many linguists assume
that semantics is fed fairly directly by syntax and that surface syn- .
Few if any of our readers will have heard or seen this particular
tactic constituents will generally be units for purposes of semantic
sentence before. Yet you can quite easily understand it. How is this
composition. And even more linguists would expect the units of
feat possible? The experience of understanding a newly encoun-
semantic composition to be units at some level of syntactic struc-
tered sentence like (1) seems much like the experience of adding
ture, though perhaps at a more abstract level than the surface.
two numbers we have never summed before, say
Logicians used to be notorious among linguists for their pro-
(2) 1437.952 + 21.84 nouncements on the "illogicality" of natural language surface syn-
We can do the sum in (2) and come up with 1459.792 because we tax. More recently, however, logical approaches to semantics have
know something about numbers and have an algorithm or rule for proposed that the surface syntactic structure of natural language
adding them together. For instance, we may break each of the two is a much better guide to semantic constituency than it might at
numbers to be summed into smaller pieces, adding first the digits first seem to be. Both syntax and the relevant areas of logic have
in the thousandths place (having added a 0 in that place to the developed rapidly in recent years, but it is still an open ques-
second number), moving on to the hundredths place, and so on. All tion just how close the correspondence is between the structure
we really have to know are the numbers (on this approach, the sig- needed for constructing sentential meanings (what we might think
nificance of the decimal representation of each number in a base of as semantic structure) and that needed for constructing sen-
tences as syntactic objects. There is also a vigorous debate about
Chapter 1 8 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 9

whether more sophisticated approaches to semantics and syntax (3) v

make it possible to dispense with multiple levels of syntactic
structure. 1
Certainly, however, interpretations of both words and syntactic CAUSE V
constructions will play a role in any systematic account of how
sentences (and larger discourse texts) are assigned interpretations. ~V BECOME
An important test of a semantic theory is set by compositionality.
Can the theory generate the required interpretations for complex
expressions from a specification of interpretations for the basic
items? As we will see, explicit specification of how word mean-
ings are combined to produce sentential meanings is not a trivial I
From this standpoint, it is natural to look to syntactic structures
for constraints on what might possibly get lexicalized. McCawley
2.2 Semantic universals (1971), for example, claimed that there could not be a word, say
A fundamental concern of generative linguistics is to specify what flimp, meaning to kiss a girl who is allergic to ... , that is, that no
characteristics seem to be constitutive of the human language sentence ofform (4a) could mean what is meant by (4b).
capacity. In what ways are languages fundamentally alike? We may (4) a. Lee £limped garlic.
also be able to say some very interesting things about the ways b. Lee kissed a girl who is allergic to garlic.
in which that linguistic capacity constrains possible differences
among languages, about the parameters of variation. The explanation he offered was that lexical substitution rules have
There is rather little that might count as semantic typology or as a to replace single constituents and kiss a girl who is allergic to is not
direct analogue to the parametric apprpach in syntax. 2 There has, a single constituent. Of course, since the replaced elements come
however, been some attention to semantic universals. In the late from a universal language that is not spoken by anyone, it is not
sixties and early seventies, quite interesting attempts to get at uni- easy to be sure that something with the meaning in question might
versal semantic principles came from the so-called generative not be expressible as a single constituent. The verb flimp might be
semanticists. Working in the generative tradition, these linguists introduced in a group that thinks that kissing a girl allergic to a
claimed that semantics was fundamentally just a very abstract level certain substance in some interesting way affects the kisser's rela-
of syntax where a universally available stock of basic words or tion to the substance (perhaps allergies can be so transmitted, so
concepts were combined. The syntax of this universal semantic £limping puts the £limper in jeopardy of acquiring an allergy). What
base was simple, involving a very few categories and rules for is interesting, though, is McCawley's attempt to offer a formal
combining them. Getting from these abstract structures to the sur- account of alleged material universals, such as the absence from all
face sentences of a natural language involved, among other things, languages of words like flimp. 3 We discuss lexical meanings in
replacing complex structures with single words. It was hypothe- somewhat more detail in chapter 8.
sized, for example, that something like the structure in (3) is the Even if this particular approach to the kinds of words languages
source of English kill; a lexical substitution rule replaces the tree will have may now seem inadequate, the general idea of attempting
with the single word kill. Small capital letters indicate that the to find explanations in terms of general linguistic principles for
words represented are from the universal semantic lexicon: (Gen- what can and cannot be lexicalized is of considerable interest. For
erative semanticists used V for simple verbs and for other predicate instance, we do not know of any languages that lack a word that is
expressions, including predicate adjectives and the negative parti- more or less synonymous with and, joining expressions from
cle not.) different syntactic (and semantic) categories-sentences, noun
phrases, or prepositional ph,rases-by using what can be seen as
Chapter 1 10 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 11

the same semantic operation. Nor do we know of a language that In exploring the organization of concepts that ... lack perceptual
uses a single word to mean what is meant by not all in English yet counterparts, we do not have to start de novo. Rathel~ we can con-
uses a syntactically complex expression to mean what none means. strain the possible hypotheses about such concepts by adapting,
Although it is often said that comparatives (taller) are semantically insofar as possible, the independently motivated algebra of spatial
simpler than the corresponding absolutes (tall), no language we concepts to our new purposes. The psychological claim behind this
know of expresses the comparative notion as a single morpheme methodology is that the mind does not manufacture abstract con-
and the absolute in a more complex way. Can semantic theory shed cepts out of thin air, either. It adapts machinery that is already
light on such observations (on the assumption that they are indeed available, both in the development of the individual organism and
correct)? in the evolutionary development of the species.
Certain quite abstract semantic notions seem to play an impor-
Investigations of the semantic value of words and grammatical
tant role in many cross-linguistic generalizations. For example,
particles, especially recurring general patterns of relationships,
agent, cause, change, goal, and source have been among the
may help us understand more about human cognition generally.
thematic roles proposed to link verb meanings with their argu-
One area where we find semantic universals is in combinatorial
ments. Fillmore (1968) suggested a semantic case grammar in
principles and relations; indeed, many investigators assume that it
which predicates were universally specified in terms of the the-
is only at the level of basic expressions that languages differ
matic roles associated with their arguments. Language-specific
semantically, and it may well be true that the child need only learn
rules, along with some universal principles ranking the different
lexical details. For example, languages are never limited to additive
thematic roles, then mapped the arguments of a verb into appro-
semantic principles like that of conjunction; predication, for ex-
priate syntactic or morphological structures. The UCLA Syntax
ample, seems to be universally manifested. Logical approaches to
Project reported on in Stockwell, Schachter, and Partee (1973)
semantics have paid more explicit attention to composition than
adapted Fillmore's framework in developing a computational im-
most other approaches and thus suggest more explicit hypotheses
plementation of their grammar, and similar ideas have figured in
about how languages structure meaning. One question has to do
other computational approaches to linguistic analysis. We discuss
with the different kinds of semantic values expressions can have:
thematic roles in somewhat more detail in chapter 8.
just as to and number are of different syntactic categories in
Are such notions part of universal grammar, or is there another
English, they are associated with different semantic classes, or
way to think about them? Are they connected more to general cog-
types, in any logical approach to semantics, and the semantic value
nitive phenomena than to language as such? Perhaps, but in any
associated with sentences is of yet another different type. Univer-
case, certain empirical generalizations about linguistic phenomena
sally we need distinctions among types. Semantic theory should
seem linked to these semantic notions. For example, in language
provide us with some account of these distinctions and allow us to
after language the words and constructions used to speak about
investigate the empirical question of whether languages differ in
space and spatial relations (including motion) are recycled to speak
the semantic types they encode.
of more abstract domains, for example, possession. The precise
Our discussion will focus primarily on English, since that is the
details are not universal: Finnish uses the locative case in many
language we and our readers share. Occasionally, however, we
instances where English would use the nonspatial verb have
draw illustrations from other languages, and we intend our general
("Minulla on kiss a" literally glosses as "At me is a cat" but is
approach to provide a framework in which to do semantics for
equivalent to "I have a cat"). But English does use spatial verbs and
human languages generally, not simply for English.
prepositions to talk about changes in possession ("The silver tea set
went to Mary"). The general claim, however, is that resources for
describing perceptual experience and the principles that organize
2.3 The significance of language: "aboutness" and representation
them are universally redeployed to speak of matters that are less
Meaning manifests itself in the systematic link between linguistic
concrete. As Jackendoff (1983, 188-189) puts it,
forms and things, what we speak of or talk about. This "aboutness"
Chapter 1 12 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 13

of language is so familiar that it may not seem noteworthy. But the of our environment. Nor does it require that environmental infor-
fact that our languages carry meaning enables us to use them to mation is simply registered or received without active input from
express messages, to convey information to one another. As Lewis perceiving and thinking human minds. Yet it does probably require
Carroll observed, we can talk about shoes and ships and sealing a regular and systematic correspondence between language and the
wax and whether pigs have wings. We can also speak of South shared environment, what is publicly accessible to many different
Africa, Ingrid Bergman, birthdays, wearing clothes well, fear of fly- human minds.
ing, and prime numbers. Were languages not to provide for signifi- If you are skeptical about informational significance, consider the
cance in this sense, the question of meaning would hardly arise. use of language in giving directions, warnings, recipes, planning
Nonetheless, some semantic theorists have thought that such joint activities, describing events. Things occasionally misfire, but
aboutness is not really part of the domain of semantics. They have by and large such uses of language are remarkably effective. Lan-
focused instead on the cognitive structures that represent meaning, guage could not work at all in such ways were it not imbued with
taking the fundamental significance of language to reside in rela- some kind of informational significance, being about matters in a
tions between linguistic expressions and what are sometimes public world.
called "semantic representations." Let us make this more concrete with a couple of examples. Sup-
On our view, the significance of language, its meaningfulness, pose we utter
can be thought of as involving both aboutness and representational (5) This is yellow.
components. Theorists differ in the emphasis they place on these
components and in the view they hold of their connections. It will Interpreting this and other demonstrative expressions is problem-
be convenient for the discussion that follows to have labels for atic if the interpreter does not have access to some contextually
these two aspects of significance. Informational significance is a salient entity to which it refers-perhaps the drapes to which
matter of aboutness, of connections between language and the someone is pointing. Since we have provided no picture to accom-
world( s) we talk about. Informational significance looks outward to pany (5), readers do not know what this refers to and cannot fully
a public world and underlies appraisal of messages in terms of understand what its use means. The important points here are (1)
objective nonlinguistic notions like truth. Cognitive significance that certain expressions seem to be used to refer, to indicate certain
involves the links between language and mental constructs that nonlinguistic entities, and (2) that knowing how to grasp what such
somehow represent or encode speakers' semantic knowledge. Cog- expressions refer to is part of knowing what they mean. Ex-
nitive significance looks inward to a speaker's mental apparatus pressions like this provide particularly vivid illustrations, but the
and does not confront issues of the public reliability of linguistic same point holds of expressions like the man who is sitting in the
communication. third row and many others.
Now let us consider another example.
2.3.1 The informational significance of language Language enables us to (6) The door is closed.
talk about the world, to convey information to one another about
ourselves and our surroundings in a reliable fashion. What prop- This sentence would accurately describe the situation depicted on
the right in (7) but not that depicted on the left. 4
erties of language and its uses underlie this remarkable fact? What
allows language to serve as a guide to the world and to enable (7)
us to learn from what others have perceived (seen, heard, felt,
smelled) without having to duplicate their perceptual experi-
ence ourselves?
Informational significance does not require that language links to
the world in ways that are predetermined by the physical structure
Chapter 1 14 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 15

There are quite solid intuitions about the relation of sentence (6) (9) Joan wants a tomato sandwich.
to the two kinds of situations illustrated in (7). This fact is obvious It is just that the differences among these situations are not appar-
yet nonetheless remarkable. ent from purely visual signs. We would have equal difficulty using
First, notice that the relation between the sentence and situations pictures to represent situations described or not described by sen-
seems to be one that is independent of how those situations are tence (10), yet what (10) is about' is no less public than what (6) is
presented. Instead of the drawings, we might have included photos about.
or enclosed a videotape. We might even have issued you an invita-
tion to come with us to a place where we could point out to you an (10) Joan ate a tomato sandwich yesterday but not today.
open door and one that is closed. If you understand sentence (6), What is noteworthy here is that language serves to bring private
you can discriminate the two sorts of situation, no matter how we mental states into the public eye. Joan can speak about her desire to
present them to you. have a tomato sandwich today with the same ease that she speaks
Second, observe that (6) can describe not just one or two, but a about the tomato sandwich that she actually consumed yesterday.
potential infinity of, different situations. In the picture on the right Through language we not only inform one another about our
in (7), there is no cat in front of the closed door. But (6) would external environment; we also manage to inform others of certain
apply just as well to a situation like that depicted in (8), which is aspects of what our internal environment is like, thus externalizing
different from the right side of (7) only in that it contains a cat. or objectifying that internal experience to some extent. We can
(8) (sometimes) tell one another what is on our minds and we can use
language to share what we imagine, suppose, or pretend.
Thus, when we speak of informational significance, we include
not only links to physical or concrete phenomena but also to men-
tal or abstract phenomena. There are deep philosophical questions
that can be raised about the ontological status of different kinds of
phenomena, but the important empirical fact for linguistic seman-
There is no need to stop with one cat or two or three, etc. We know tics is that for all of them we do indeed succeed in conveying
how to keep going. The crucial point is that our knowledge of the information to one another by talking about them. It is in this sense
relation between sentences and situations is not trivial and cannot that meaning always involves informational significance.
consist in just remembering which particular situations are ones Semantic theories of informational significance are often called
that a particular sentence can describe. Understanding what situ- referential theories. Truth-conditional semantics is a particular
ations a sentence describes or, more generally, what information it kind of referential theory, which we will introduce in the next
conveys is crucial to grasping its meaning. It seems eminently rea- chapter and illustrate in more detail in succeeding chapters.
sonable to expect semantics to provide some account of this phe-
nomenon. 2.3.2 The cognitive significance of language The whole question of the
Of course, language also enables us to talk with one another meaningfulness of language has been approached from the inward-
about more private internal worlds, to express our attitudes or looking perspective of cognitive significance. The general idea is
mental states: hopes, beliefs, fears, wishes, dreams, fantasies. This that we have ways of representing mentally what is meant by what
too can be thought of as the conveying of information, but infor- we and others say. Perhaps, the suggestion seems to go, your under-
mation in this case may seem less public or objective because the standing sentence (6), "The door is closed," is a matter of your
experiencing subject has some kind of privileged access to it. We recovering some internal representation of its meaning. Propon-
cannot draw a picture to illustrate the situations described by sen- ents of representational theories of meaning have usually not paid
tence (9), but this does not mean that we do not know quite a lot much attention to informational significance or even more gener-
about which situations it does, and which it does not, describe. ally to the capacity of people to judge with remarkable uniformity
Chapter 1 16 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 17

relations between sentences and nonlinguistic situations. Rather, that the aspect of meaningfulness that we have called cognitive
they have focused on understanding as a matter of what inter- significance has important implications for how conveyed infor-
preters can infer about the cognitive states and processes, the mation is processed. Chapter 6 discusses approaches to semantics
semantic representations, of utterers. You understand us, on this that relate the informational significance of sentences to contextual
view, to the extent that you are able to reconstruct semantic repre- factors and to the functioning of sentences in discourse, and in
sentations like the ones on which we have based what we say. chapter 7 and part of chapter 8 we discuss some interesting pro-
Communicative success depends only on matching representa- posals about the form of semantic representations.
tions and not on making the same links to situations. As we will
see in the next chapter, it is not impossible to connect a repre-
sentational account with a referential one; nonetheless, most rep- 3 Implication Relations
resentationalists have simply ignored the question of objective As we noted earlier, native speakers of a language have certain in-
significance, of how we manage to judge which of the situations tuitions about what sentences or utterances convey, about the con-
depicted in (7) is described by sentence (6). They have seldom tent and wider import of what is said, about what can be inferred
worried about the fact that there is an everyday sense of aboutness on the basis of the sentence uttered, and about what is suggested.
in which we take ourselves to be talking about our friends, the We often say that a sentence or utterance implies something. What
weather, or what we just ate for dinner, and not about our repre- is implied can be expressed by a sentence. For present purposes,
sentations of them. Even if our impression that we are not just we can think of implication relations as inferential relations be-
conveying representations but are talking about what is represented tween sentences. If A implies B, we often say that A suggests or
might ultimately be illusory, it does deserve explanation. conveys B or that B can be inferred from an utterance of A.
Some outward looking approaches view the cognitive signifi- Implication relations can be classified on two axes. The first is
cance of language as ultimately understood in terms of its infor- what licenses or underwrites the implication. Where the basis for
mational significance. In such approaches, people may construct judging that A implies B is the informational or truth-conditional
representations of what sentences mean, but the question of content of A, we say that A entails B. Where what licenses the im-
whether such representations are essentially identical need not plication has to do with expectations about the reasons people talk
arise. Understanding is a matter not of retrieving representations and about their typical strategies in using language, we say that A
but of achieving consensus on informational significance. implicates (or conversationally implicates) B. Philosopher Paul
It is almost certainly true that our talk about the world works so Grice first argued for this distinction and proposed an account of
well because of fundamental similarities in our mental representa- how conversational implicatures work. Although there is still con-
tions of it. Yet the similar representations required might not be siderable disagreement on the theory of implicature, the need for
semantic as such but connected to our perceptual experience. such a distinction is now widely acknowledged. 5 We will discuss
Nonetheless, that similar perceptual experience would depend on entailments in 3.1 and distinguish them from implicatures, which
similar contact with a shared external environment. In this sense, a we discuss briefly in 3.2 (and in somewhat more detail in chapter
connection to the represented world is still basic, since it provides 4). Formal semantic theories of the kind we develop in this book
the basis for the similarities in perceptual experience, which in allow us to characterize entailment relations quite precisely. Dis-
turn are somehow linked to linguistic expressions. tinguishing entailments from implicatures is important in devel-
The semantic framework developed here emphasizes objective oping semantic analyses, although it is by no means easy to do so
significance and referential connections but does not assume that (and there are often disagreements on where to draw the line).
the meaningfulness of language, its full significance, is exhausted The second axis of classification is the discourse status of the
by its informational significance. Indeed, we think that some as- implication. The primary distinction here is between assertions
pects of how meanings are represented are meaningful even though (and various other things we might intend to accomplish when we
they do not directly affect informational significance. Our guess is say something: questions, suppositions, orders) and presupposi-
Chapter 1 18 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 19

tions. An assertion aims to add content to the ongoing discourse, assert that (12a) and (12b) are true. Suppose in addition that you
to effect some kind of change in what the conversationalists assume, judge that this particular specimen is not especially distinguished
whereas a presupposition presents its content as already assumed in size among its fellow sperm whales, that it's one of the smaller
or taken for granted. Section 3.3 introduces presupposition and ones. In such circumstances it would be quite reasonable to deny
empirical tests to distinguish it from assertion and assertion-based (12c). In this case the a and b sentences do not entail the c
implications. We will discuss assertion along with other kinds of sentence.
speech acts in more detail in chapter 4 and again in chapter 6, We would find the same difference in the two sets of sentences if
where we return to presupposition. On this way of thinking of we used automobile instead of fountain pen and used galaxy
things, classifying an implication as a presupposition is neutral as instead of sperm whale. Yellow (along with other adjectives like
to whether the implication might also be an entailment or some round, featherless, dead) behaves differently from big (and other
kind of conversational implicature (or licensed in some other way); adjectives like strong, good, intelligent), and this difference seems
A can, e.g., both entail Band presuppose B. semantic in nature. (See chapter 8, section 3.1, for discussion of
this difference.)
As we have noted, the relation between the pair (11a, b) and (11c)
3.1 Entailment is usually called entailment. Together (11a) and (11b) entail (11c),
Consider the following examples. whereas (12a) and (12b) do not entail (12c).
An entailment can be thought of as a relation between one sen-
(11) a. This is yellow.
tence or set of sentences, the entailing expressions, and another
b. This is a fountain pen.
sentence, what is entailed. For simplicity we equate a set of entail-
c. This is a yellow fountain pen.
ing sentences with a single sentence, their conjunction, which we
(12) a. This is big. get by joining the sentences using and. The conjunction is true just
b. This is a sperm whale. in case each individual sentence in the set is true, and it describes
c. This is a big sperm whale. exactly those situations that can also be described by each one of
Imagine yourself uttering the sentences in (11) with reference to a the individual sentences. We could, for example, simply look at the
particular object, perhaps a pen, perhaps something else. In such a English sentences "This is yellow, and this is a fountain pen" and
situation you know that if your assertions of (11a) and (11b) are "This is big, and this is a sperm whale" in cases (11) and (12)
true (if the object is indeed yellow and indeed a fountain pen), then above.
your assertion of (11c) is also true. It would be contradictory to Theoretically, entailment relations might depend solely on the
assert the first two sentences and then deny the third; we discuss syntactic structure of sentences. However, the contrast between
contradiction below. Any native speaker of English knows that the (11) and (12) (and a host of other such sentences) demonstrates that
information conveyed by uttering (11c) is somehow already in- they cannot be simply a matter of surface syntax. Entailments seem
cluded in the information conveyed by uttering (11a) and (11b). to involve the information conveyed by sentences: if English sen-
This knowledge seems to be part of knowing what these sentences tence A entails English sentence B, then translating A and B into
mean: we need know nothing about the object indicated by this Finnish sentences A' and B' with the same informational signifi-
beyond the fact that it is the same object for all three utterances. cance will preserve the entailment relation.
We say that the pair of sentences (11a) and (11b) entails sentence Asked to define entailment, you might come up with any of the
(11c). following:
Now imagine yourself uttering the sentences in (12), again keep- (13) A entails B =df
ing fixed what this refers to in all three utterances. Matters become • whenever A is true, B is true
very different. Suppose you take yourself to be pointing at a sperm • the information that B conveys is contained in the
whale. Sperm whales are pretty big creatures, so you might well information that A conveys
Chapter 1 20 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 21

• a situation describable by A must also be a situation In particular contexts, the use of translations that are not in-
describable by B formationally equivalent, translations where entailments are not
• A and not B is contradictory (can't be true in any situation) preserved, may be unproblematic, since other information is avail-
able to ensure that only the desired information is actually con-
We will later discuss more formal characterizations of the entail-
veyed. But neither (17 a) nor (19a) is an informationally equivalent
ment relation, but for the time being you can adopt any of the pre-
translation of the Finnish sentence (18), which is informationally
ceding definitions.
equivalent to something like (20).
We can find countless examples where entailment relations hold
between sentences and countless where they do not. The English (20) She or he is big.
sentence (14) is normally interpreted so that it entails the sentences You might object to our claim that (14), "Lee kissed Kim pas-
in (15) but does not entail those in (16). sionately," entails (15d), "Lee touched Kim with her lips," by
(14) Lee kissed Kim passionately. pointing out that sentence (21) can be true in a situation where
(15d) is false.
(15) a. Lee kissed Kim.
b. Kim was kissed by Lee. (21) In her imagination Lee kissed Kim passionately.
c. Kim was kissed. Does your example defeat the claim that (14) entails (15d)? No. We
d. Lee touched Kim with her lips. could counter by claiming that if (15d) is false in the situation in
(16) a. Lee married Kim. which (21) is true then (14) is false in that same situation, and we
b. Kim kissed Lee. might further claim that (21) entails (22).
c. Lee kissed Kim many times. (22) In her imagination Lee touched Kim with her lips.
d. Lee did not kiss Kim.
On the other hand, if you manage to persuade us that Lee's
Looking at entailments shows, by the way, that what are con- mouthing of a kiss in Kim's direction from a distance of ten feet
ventionally treated as translation equivalents are not always in- counts as her kissing him, then we have no good defense of our
formationally equivalent. The English sentence (17a) entails (17b), claim that (14) entails (15d) (since we agree that she is unable
but the Finnish sentence (18), which most texts would offer as a actually to touch him from that distance). Or your scenario might
translation of (17 a), does not entail anything about the female- be romance via computer where Lee types in "I am kissing you
ness of the person or animal said to be big, the Finnish third- passionately," addressing herself to Kim's computer. If we agree to
person pronoun hiin being completely neutral as to the sex of its accept either of your cases as real kissing, then our only possible
referent. line of defense is that there are different interpretations of kiss
(17) a. She is big. involved, only one of which requires that the kisser touch the
b. Some female is big. kissee with her lips. In other words, we could accept one of your
cases and continue to maintain that (14) entails (15d) only if we
(18) Han on iso.
also argue that (14) is ambiguous, that it has more than one mean-
Thus, although sentence (18) can be used to describe any situation ing. In this case, the string (14) could entail (15d) on one interpre-
(17 a) describes, the Finnish can also be used to describe situations tation of kiss but not have that entailment on the interpretation
not describable by (17a), for example, to say of some man that he is your cases involve. We discuss later what considerations support
big. That is, (18) is also a translation of (19a), but unlike (19a) it claims of ambiguity.
does not entail the information conveyed by (19b). Similarly, we claim that (14), "Lee kissed Kim passionately,"
does not entail (16c), "Lee kissed Kim many times." You might
(19) a. He is big.
deny this by noting that the passionate kisser is unlikely to stop
b. Some male is big.
Chapter 1 22 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 23

with a single kiss. We can agree with that observation and may be true that Mary still swims a mile daily, and the speaker we've
even agree with you that assertion of (14) does strongly suggest or imagined could make clear that (23b) should not be inferred by
imply the truth of (16c) but nonetheless disagree that the implica- continuing with something like (25).
tion is an entailment. For example, we might want to maintain that
(25) I wonder whether she still ~oes [swim a mile daily].
a situation with one or a few kisses can nonetheless involve pas-
sionate kissing, perhaps persuading you by showing a film of a In contrast, (24a) not only implies but entails (24b). Suppose
single kiss which you will agree is a passionate one. You might still that Hans did not paint the walls. Then even if Pete did install the
maintain that Lee herself would never stop short of many kisses cabinets, he did not do so after Hans painted the walls. That is,
once she succumbs to passion, and thus that (14) would never be sentence (26) is contradictory.
true without (16c) also being true. We must now take a slightly (26) After Hans painted the walls, Pete installed the cabinets, but
different tack, noting that this is a matter of what Lee happens to be Hans did not paint the walls.
like rather than a matter of what the sentences mean. Or perhaps
we would remind you of the possibility that Lee could begin her There is one further preliminary point that it is important to
round of passionate kissing but be allowed only one passionate kiss make about entailments; namely, that there are infinitely many of
before Kim breaks free and runs away. them. That is, there are infinitely many pairs of sentences A, B such
What we should not do in the face of your objections is simply to that A entails B. Here are a couple of ways to construct indefinitely
reiterate our initial claims. Judgments about entailment relations many such pairs. Intuitions are fairly sharp, for example, that (27a)
can be defended and supported by evidence. As in the case of any entails (27c) and also that (27b) entails (27c).
linguistic phenomenon, there may be areas of real diversity within (27) a. Lee and Kim smoke.
the community of language users, dialectal and even idiolectal b. Lee smokes and drinks.
differences. This complication must not, however, obscure the im- c. Lee smokes.
portant fact that judgments about semantic phenomena are inter-
connected, and thus that there is relevant evidence to be offered in We can easily keep conjoining noun phrases (Lee and Kim and
support of such judgments. In learning to do semantics as a lin- Mike and Susan and ... ), adding descriptions like the other Lee or
guist, one must learn to develop semantic arguments and explore the woman I love should our stock of distinct proper names be
semantic intuitions systematically. And one must learn to discrimi- exhausted. We can also, of course, just keep conjoining verb
phrases: smokes and drinks and has bad breath and lives in
nate between the strict notion of the entailment relation and looser
varieties of implication. Test yourself on the following examples. Dubuque and ... ). Either way we get more sentences that entail
Sentences (23a) and (24a) imply (23b) and (24b) respectively, but (27c), and we need never stop. That is, we have intuitions that seem
only one of the implications is an entailment. Try to discover for to involve the meanings of indefinitely many sentences, a potential
yourself which is which and why before reading the discussion that infinity. Only finitely many such intuitions could possibly be
stored in memory. How, then, are such judgments possible? Here
follows the examples.
we see again the general issue of the productivity of meaning,
(23) a. Mary used to swim a mile daily. which we introduced in 2.1.
b. Mary no longer swims a mile daily.
(24) a. After Hans painted the walls, Pete installed the cabinets.
b. Hans painted the walls. Exercise 1 For each pair of sentences, say whether the a sentence entails the b
sentence and justify your answers as well as you can. Where proper
Sentence (23a) implies but does not entail (23b). Although in many names or pronouns or similar expressions are repeated in a and b,
contexts we would infer from an utterance of (23a) that (23b) is assume that the same individual is referred to in each case· assume

true, notice that (23a) could be used by someone familiar with also that temporal expressions (like today and the present tense)
Mary's routine last year but no longer in contact with her. It might receive a constant interpretation.
Chapter 1 24 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 25

(1) a. Today is sunny. 3.2 Implicature

b. Today is warm. As we have set things up, it might look as if implicature is simply
implication minus entailment. Implicature, however, is charac-
(2) a. Jane ate oatmeal for breakfast this morning. terized more positively: we say that an utterance A implicates B
b. Jane ate breakfast this morning. only if we take B to be (part of what) the utterer of A meant by that
(3) a. Jane ate oatmeal for breakfast this morning. utterance. An implicature must be something that the utterer might
b. Jane ate something hot for breakfast this morning. reasonably mean by making the utterance, something she expects
to convey. And, critically, if A implicates B, there is a certain kind
(4) a. Juan is not aware that Mindy is pregnant.
of explanatory account of that relation, one that invokes general
b. Mindy is pregnant.
principles of conversation, as well as (perhaps) certain specific
(5) a. Every second-year student who knows Latin will get credit assumptions about the particular context in which A happens to
for it. have been uttered. Grice says that implicatures must be calculable:
b. If John is a second-year student and knows Latin, he will there should be an argument that A implicates B, an argument that
get credit for it. draws on the linguistic meaning of A and on expectations that
(6) a. If Alice wins a fellowship, she can finish her thesis. speakers generally have of one another (e.g., that what is said will
b. If Alice doesn't win a fellowship, she can't finish her thesis. be "relevant" and "informative") and, in some cases, on particular
features of the utterance context.
( 7) a. Maria and Marco are married. Suppose, e.g., that we have the dialogue in (28).
b. Maria and Marco are married to each other.
(28) A: Did you enjoy the dinner?
(8) a. Only Amy knows the answer. B: We had mushroom salad and mushroom sauce on the
b. Amy knows the answer. pasta.
(9) a. Mary is an Italian violinist. What might speaker B be implicating? Given a question like that
b. Some Italian is a violinist. asked by A, what becomes immediately relevant is for B to choose
(10) a. Some student will not go to the party. one of the possibilities in (29).
b. Not every student will go to the party. (29) a. I (namely B) enjoyed the dinner.
(11) a. Allegedly, John is a good player. b. I (namely B) didn't enjoy the dinner.
b. John is a good player. Thus, unless there's some reason to think that B is dodging the
(12) a. John knows that pigs do not have wings. question, we will generally take B's utterance to implicate either
b. Pigs do not have wings. (29a) or (29b). But no general principles allow us to decide whether
the implicature is positive or negative: to do that, we have to know
(13) a. John believes that pigs do not have wings.
more. Perhaps it is common knowledge that B hates mushrooms
b. Pigs do not have wings. with a passion or, conversely, that B absolutely adores mushrooms
(14) a. Oscar and Jenny are rich. in virtually any dish. In the first case, (29b) is implicated, whereas
b. Jenny is rich. (29a) is implicated in the other case. If A knows nothing about B's
opinions of mushrooms, A will likely interpret B's response as
(15) a. Oscar and Jenny are middle-aged.
evasive. (An evasive answer might be in order if, e.g., B fears that A
b. Jenny is middle-aged.
will report the evaluation to the person who hosted the dinner.)
(16) a. Not everyone will get the correct answer. When the implicature to one of (29) works, then we are dea-
b. Someone will get the correct answer. ling with a particularized conversational implicature. Linguistic
Chapter 1 26 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 27

theories cannot really predict such implicatures (except insofar as (32) a. Mary used to swim a mile daily, and she still does.
they can shed light on such issues as how questions make certain b. Mary used to swim a mile daily, but she no longer does.
next contributions relevant). Not surprisingly, no one is likely to
Unless there is some special reason that the conversationalists are
think that the relation between ( 28B) and either of the sentences in
interested only in Mary's past habits, if the speaker is in a position
(29) is entailment, that it is the semantic content of the sentence in
to inform the hearer by uttering (31) rather than (23a), then she
(28B) that licenses the inference to either (29a) or (29b).
should do so (and, furthermore, she knows that the hearer expects
What linguists have studied most systematically are what Grice
her to do so). Thus to utter (23a) suggests one is not in a position to
called generalized conversational implicatures. These are the cases
make the stronger claim (31), and in many circumstances it sug-
that often seem close to entailments. Take example (23) from the
gests that the stronger claim is false, i.e., (23a) conveys that (23b)
preceding section, repeated here.
holds. Indeed, it is normal to make the move from (23a) to (23b)--
(23) a. Mary used to swim a mile daily. and, more generally, from used to to does no longer-unless there are
b. Mary no longer swims a mile daily. explicit indicators to the contrary as in (32a). The strength of the im-
plication is one reason why it is so often confused with entailment.
We argued that the relation between these sentences was not
Sentence (32b) illustrates another empirical test that distinguishes
entailment, because we could follow an utterance of (23a) with an
implicatures from entailments: they are typically reinforceable,
utterance of(25), also repeated here.
without any flavor of the redundancy that generally accompanies
(25) I wonder whether she still does. similar reinforcement of entailments. Although (32b) sounds fine,
What (25) does is defeat the inference from (23a) to (23b): an em- (33), where an entailment is reinforced, sounds quite strange.
pirical hallmark of conversational implicatures is that they are, in (33) #Lee smokes and drinks, but/and she smokes.
Grice's words, defeasible. An implication that can be defeated just
Reinforceability is the flip side of defeasibility. Because general-
by saying something that warns the hearer not to infer what might
ized implicatures are not part of the linguistic meaning of expres-
ordinarily be implied is not an entailment but something different.
sions in the same sense that entailments are, they can readily be
Notice that if we try to "defeat" entailments, we end up with
explicitly set aside or explicitly underscored. However, they are
something contradictory:
strongly recurrent patterns, most of them found in similar form
(30) #Lee kissed Kim passionately, but Lee didn't kiss Kim. crosslinguistically.
But even though the implication from (23a) to (23b) is defeasible, Here are some more examples where a generalized implicature
that implication is a very general one that holds unless it is spe- seems to hold between the (a) and the (b) sentences.
cifically defeated. In contrast to the implication from (28B) to one (34) a. Joan likes some of her presents.
of the sentences in (29), the implication from (23a) to (23b) does not b. Joan doesn't like all of her presents.
depf)nd on any special features of the contexts in which sentences
(35) a. Mary doesn't believe that John will come.
like (23a) might be uttered. What, then, is the general argument, the
b. Mary believes that John won't come.
calculation, that takes us from (23a) to (23b)?
Roughly, the argument goes like this. Hearers expect speakers (36) a. If you finish your vegetables, I'll give you dessert.
to be adequately informative on the topic being discussed, and b. If you don't finish your vegetables, I won't give you dessert.
speakers know that hearers have this expectation. Sentence (23a)
reports a past habit, in contrast to (31), which reports a present habit.
Exercise 2 Choose one of the pairs of sentences in (34) to (36) and show that
(31) Mary swims a mile daily.
the relation between (a) and (b) is both defeasible and reinforce-
Present habits, however, began earlier, and thus (31) might well be able. .
true of the same situation as (32a), which cancels implicature (23b).
Chapter 1 28 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 29

We return to the topic of conversational implicature in chapter 4, (38) a. Joan regrets getting her Ph.D. in linguistics.
where we say more about Grice's account of the conversational b. Joan doesn't regret getting her Ph.D. in linguistics.
principles that underlie these relations. c. Does Joan regret getting her Ph.D. in linguistics?
d. If Joan regrets getting her Ph.D. and linguistics, she should
consider going back to graduate school in computer
3.3 Presupposition science.
Many expressions seem to "trigger" certain presuppositions; i.e., e. Joan got her Ph.D. in linguistics.
they signal that the speaker is taking something for granted. Utter-
Look. next at (39). Once again, each of the quartet (a-d) implies
ances of sentences containing such expressions typically have two
(e). In this case it is the quantifying determine all that is responsi-
kinds of implications: those that are asserted (or denied or ques-
ble. A number of quantificational expressions serve to trigger pre-
tioned or otherwise actively entertained) and those that are pre-
supposed. As we noted above, presupposition is more than a
species of implication: it is a matter of the discourse status of what (39) a. All Mary's lovers are French.
is implied. If A presupposes B, then A not only implies B but also b. It isn't the case that all Mary's lovers are French.
implies that the truth of B is somehow taken for granted, treated as c. Are all Mary's lovers French?
uncontroversial. If A entails B, then asserting that A is true commits d. If all Mary's lovers are French, she should study the
us to the truth of B. If A presupposes B, then to assert A, deny A, language.
wonder whether A, or suppose A-to express any of these attitudes e. Mary has (three or more?) lovers.
toward A is generally to imply B, to suggest that B is true and,
Finally, look at (40), where we find the same pattern. In this case
moreover, uncontroversially so. That is, considering A from almost
it is the cleft construction that is responsible.
any standpoint seems already to assume or presuppose the truth of
B; B is part ofthe background against was we (typically) consider A. ( 40) a. It was Lee who got a perfect score on the semantics quiz.
Consider, for example, the sentences in (37). Any one of (a-d) b. It wasn't Lee who got a perfect score on the semantics
seems to imply (e) as a background truth. These implications are quiz.
triggered by the occurrence of the phrase the present queen of c. Was it Lee who got a perfect score on the semantics quiz?
France, a definite description. It is generally true of definite de- d. If it was Lee who got a perfect score on the semantics quiz,
scriptions that they license such implications. why does she look so depressed?
e. Someone got a perfect score on the semantics quiz.
(37) a. The present queen of France lives in Ithaca.
b. It is not the case that the present queen of France lives in A distinguishing empirical feature of presupposition, then, is
Ithaca (or more colloquially, the present queen of France that it involves not just a single implication but a family of im-
does not live in Ithaca). plications. By this we mean that not only assertive uses of sentence
c. Does the present queen of France live in Ithaca? A (the affirmative declarative) imply B but also other uses of A
d. If the present queen of France lives in Ithaca, she has where something is, for example, denied, supposed, or questioned.
probably met Nelly. That we are dealing with a family of implications derives from the
e. There is a unique present queen of France. fact that the presupposition is background. Each of (a-d), what we
will call the P family, is said to presuppose (e) because uttering
Or consider (38). Again (using) any of(a-d) will generally imply
each (typically) implies (e)and also implies that (e) is being taken
(e). In this case, the implications are attributable to regret, which is
for granted. It is convenient for testing purposes to identify the.!_
a so-called factive verb. Factive verbs generally signal that their
family in syntactic terms: an affirmative declarative, the negative of
complements are presupposed. Other examples are realize and
that declarative, the interrogative, and the conditiona!it:n_!~-~~den_t.
In semantic/pragmatic terms, these represent a family of different
Chapter 1 30 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 31

sorts of attitudes expressed towards A. We can thus informally perfect score on the semantics quiz is not part of the usual back-
characterize when A presupposes Bas follows: ground for talking about Lee's achieving the feat in question, as
stated by (43a). Indeed, it seems reasonable to say that a major se-
(41) A presupposes B if and only if not only A but also other
mantic difference between the subject-verb-object (S-V-0) sentence
members of the P family imply (and assume as background) B.
(43a) and its cleft correlate (40a), "It was Lee who got a perfect
Presuppositions come in families, even if sometimes certain mem- score on the semantics quiz," is that the latter but not the former
bers of the family may be stylistically odd. carries a presupposition that someone got a perfect score. Whether
Notice that we have said that A and other members of its P family this difference can ultimately be explained in terms of some other
imply B when A presupposes B. We do not require that these im- difference between the two is an issue we cannot answer here.
plications be entailments. As we have defined entailment, it is not What the sentences in (43) show is that A can entail B without
even possible for all these relations to be entailments. However, it other members of the P family also implying B. Presupposition and
is possible that some member of the family entails B. Sentence entailment are thus quite distinct. A may entail B but not presup-
(40a), for example, not only presupposes (40e); it also entails (40e). pose it, as in ( 34); conversely, A may presuppose B but not entail it,
If (40a) is true, then (40e) must also be true. The negation, (40b), as in (40). And given the way we have defined entailment and pre-
also presupposes (40e) but does not entail it. The implication to supposition, it is also possible for A both to entail and to presup-
(40e) is defeasible; that is, there are contexts in which it can be de- pose B. (Some accounts of presupposition do not admit this
feated, contexts in which (40b) is asserted yet (40e) is not assumed possibility; we will discuss this and related issues in more detail in
to be true. We might take (42) as a discourse context that defeats the chapter 6.)
implication from (40b) to (40e). Presupposition requires a family of implications, not all of which
(42) Speaker 1: I wonder whether it was Lee or someone else who can be licensed by an entailment. Interrogatives, for example,
got a perfect score on the semantics quiz. would never entail other sentences, since they are not ordinarily
Speaker 2: It wasn't Lee who got a perfect score [on the valued as true or false; use of an interrogative may, however, imply
semantics quiz]. I happen to know that Lee scored only 70 something. Thus, one important question presupposition raises is
percent. I wonder if anyone managed to get a perfect score. about the nature of implications that are not backed by entailment
relations. Some presuppositions, it has been argued, derive from
Speaker 2 has taken issue with speaker 1's presupposing that quite general conversational principles and thus might be held to
someone got a perfect score by suggesting that (40e) may be false be licensed in much the same way as the conversational implica-
and asserting that (40b) is indeed true. Of course, speaker 2 chooses tures we briefly discussed in the preceding section. And there may
this way of conveying the information that Lee did not get a perfect be other mechanisms at work.
score because speaker 1 has already implied that someone did do A related issue is the speaker's responsibilities with respect to
that. what the utterance presupposes. What is presupposed in a dis-
We need only look at noncleft counterparts of the sentences in course is what is taken for granted. Thus, a speaker who says A,
(40) to see that A may entail B yet not presuppose B. presupposing B, in a context where B is at issue has thereby spoken
(43) a. Lee got a perfect score on the semantics quiz. inappropriately in some sense. For example, suppose that Sandy is
b. Lee didn't get a perfect score on the semantics quiz. on trial for selling illicit drugs and the prosecuting attorney asks
c. Did Lee get a perfect score on the semantics quiz? question (44).
d. If Lee got a perfect score on the semantics quiz, why does (44) Sandy, have you stopped selling crack?
she look so depressed?
e. .Someone got a perfect score on the semantics quiz. As we know, the question is unfairly loaded, since it presupposes
(45), which is very much at issue.
If focal stress is not placed on Lee, then none of (43b-d) typically
imply (43e), even though (43a) entails (43e). Someone's getting a (45) Sandy has sold crack.
Chapter 1 32 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 33

If Sandy simply answers yes or no, the presupposition is un- (2) a. That John was assaulted didn't scare Mary.
challenged, and she appears to go along with the implication that b. Mary is animate.
( 45) is true. A defensive answer must explicitly disavow that c. John was assaulted.
implication: d. That John was assaulted didn't cause fear in Mary.
( 46) Since I never did sell crack, I have not stopped selling crack. (3) a. John didn't manage to get 'the job.
b. It was kind of hard for John to get the job.
In many contexts, however, it is perfectly appropriate for a
c. John didn't get the job.
speaker to say A, presupposing B, even though the speaker does not
believe that B is taken for granted by other discourse participants. In each of these examples, the a sentences presuppose and/or en-
For example, (47) might be uttered by a passenger to the airline tail the other sentences. Specify which is a presupposition and
representative, who can hardly be thought to know anything about which a simple entailment and which is both an entailment and a
the passenger's personal habits. Although the last clause in (47) presupposition. Explain what test convinced you of your answer.
presupposes the clause that precedes it in square brackets, it would What relationship holds between the sentences in the following
seem unduly verbose to express that presupposed information examples? Explain why you think that that relation holds.
overtly. (4) a. It is false that everyone tried to kill Templeton.
(47) I don't want to be near the smoking section because [I used to b. Someone did not try to kill Templeton.
smoke and] I've just stopped smoking.
(5) a. That John left early didn't bother Mary.
An obvious difference between the airline passenger and the pros- b. John left early.
ecuting attorney is that the latter knows full well that what the
(6) a. Someone cheated on the exam.
utterance presupposes is controversial, whereas the former can
b. John cheated on the exam.
safely assume that the reservations clerk has no opinion about what
is being presupposed (and no real interest in the matter). With no (7) a. If John discovers that Mary is in New York, he will get angry.
reason to suppose otherwise, the clerk can quite reasonably be b. Mary is in New York.
expected to accept the passenger's presupposition as if it were (8) a. Seeing is believing.
already taken for granted and discourse should proceed unprob- b. If John sees a riot, he will believe it.
lematically. What happens in such cases is called accommodation.
We have barely begun to explore the topic of presupposition, and
we will consider some of these phenomena in more detail in chap-
ter 6. But it is clear already that presupposition raises questions not 4 More Semantic Relations and Properties
just about individual sentences and their truth or falsity but also Implication relations are not the only kind of semantic relations
about the uses of sentences in connected discourse (including uses speakers recognize. In this section we look at a number of other
of interrogatives, which are generally not said to be either true or semantic relations and properties.

4.1 Referential connections and anaphoric relations

Exercise 3 Consider the following: Consider the sentences in (48).
(1) a. That John was assaulted scared Mary. ( 48) a. She called me last night.
b. Mary is animate. b. Did you know that he is a Nobel Prize winner?
c. John was assaulted. c. I had a terrible fight with that bastard yesterday.
d. That John was assaulted caused fear in Mary.
Chapter 1 34 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 35

Each of the italicized expressions is used to refer to someone, to porary government-binding (GB) theory (see, for example, Postal
pick out an individual about whom something is being said, but a (1971)).
pointing gesture or a nod or some similar nonlinguistic means What are called judgments of coreference in the literature typi-
may be needed to indicate who this is. These same expressions, cally involve judging not sameness of reference as such but depen-
however, can be used in contexts where such pointing is unneces- dence of reference of one expression upon that assigned to
sary because they are linked to other antecedent expre'ssions. In another. 6 Directed linking is another device sometimes used to
( 49) speakers judge that the bracketed italicized expressions can show nonsymmetric dependence relations/ (52) shows a notation
be understood as coreferential with, having the same reference as, for linking.
the bracketed unitalicized expressions that serve as their ante-
cedents, and furthermore, they can be understood as dependent (52) a. If [she] calls, please tell [Teresa] I've gone to the pool.
for their reference on the reference assigned to their antece-
dents. Intuitive judgments are quite clear-cut in these cases: the b. [The computer repairman] insists that [he] found nothing
italic expressions are referentially dependent on the unitalicized wrong.
c. I talked to [Kim] for an hour, but [that bastard] never once
( 49) a. If [she] calls, please tell [Teresa] I've gone to the pool.
b. [The computer repairman] insists that [he] found nothing mentioned the gift I sent [him] from Peru.
c. I talked to [Kim] for an hour, but [that bastard] never once d. [She] is proud of [herself].
mentioned the gift I sent him from Peru. Referential connections may be somewhat more complex. Much
Expressions are said to be interpreted anaphorically when their of chapter 3 is devoted to making precise the nature of the depen-
reference is derived from that of antecedent expressions. The itali- dencies speakers recognize as possible in (53), where the depen-
cized expressions in (49) illustrate this. There are some expressions dencies are indicated by coindexing, just as in the simpler cases
that can only be interpreted anaphorically and not through any- above. In (53) the anaphorically interpreted NPs (she, her, himself,
thing like pointing. The reflexive pronoun herself falls in this cate- his, and themselves) are said to be bound by their antecedent NPs.
gory; compare (50a), where she can serve as antecedent, with (50b), (53) a. [Every woman]; thinks that [she]; will do a better job of
where there is no antecedent for herself child rearing than [her]J mother did.
(50) a. [She] is proud of [herself]. b. [No man]; should blame [himself]; for [his]; children's
b. *Be proud of herself. mistakes.
c. [Which candidates]; will vote for [themselves];?
In the syntactic literature, coindexing, as in (51), is the common-
est device for indicating coreference. In (53) repetition of an index does not indicate straightforward
sameness of reference, as it did in (51). Expressions like every
(51) a. If [she]; calls, please tell [Teresa]; I've gone to the pool. woman, no man, and which candidates do not refer in the intuitive
b. [The computer repairman]j insists that [he]j found nothing sense, though their relations to anaphors are often called "corefer-
wrong. ence." Although she in (53a) is not used to refer to any individual,
c. I talked to [Kim]k for an hour but [that bastard]k never once the interpretation of (53 a) can be understood in terms of sentences
mentioned the gift I sent [him]k from Peru. in which NPs in the analogous positions both refer to the same
d. [She] 1 is proud of [herself]J. individual. Roughly, (53a) says that if we point to any particular
Chomsky (1981) discusses indexing as a formal process in some woman and say (54), where each of the indexed NPs refers to that
detail, but its informal use for this purpose far predates contem- woman, then what is said will be true, no matter which woman we
Chapter 1 36 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 37

(54) [She]; thinks that [she]; will do a better job of child rearing (56) a. *Behind [Teresa];, [she]; heard Mario.
than [her]; mother did. b. *[He]; insists that [the computer repairman]; found nothing
Linguistic questions about the nature of anaphoric relations pro- wrong.
vided a major impetus for exploration of how classical logical c. *If [that bastard]; calls, tell [Kim]; I've gone to Peru.
theories might shed light on natural language semantics. In ex- d. *[Herself]; is proud of [her];.
ploring how syntactic structures affect the possibilities of interpret- Sentences ( 56a-c) are bad with the indicated coindexing; they
ing expressions, linguists and philosophers have discovered other can be used only if the italicized expressions are interpreted non-
cases of so-called coreference where referential dependency may anaphorically (through pointing or something similar). Sentence
be somewhat different both from simple sameness of reference and (56d) is unusable because herselfhappens to be an expression that
from the standard binding relations elucidated by quantification requires anaphoric interpretation.
theory. Much interesting recent linguistic research in semantics has tried
(55) a. Kath caught [some fish];, and Mark cooked [them];. to elucidate and systematize judgments about referential relations,
b. If [a farmer]j owns [a donkey];, [he]j beats [it];. and such data have figured prominently in developing theories of
c. [Gina]; told [Maria]j that [they]i+j had been assigned clean- the map between syntactic structures and their interpretation.
up duty.
In (55c) the plural pronoun they has what have been called split Exercise 4 Each of the following sentences contains some non pronominal NPs
antecedents; the index i + j indicates referential dependence on and a pronoun (in some cases, a possessive pronoun). Assign a
both the distinct indexes i and j. The notation i, j is often used for distinct index to each nonpronominal NP. Copy all such indices on
indicating split antecedents, but we want to reserve this notation the pronoun in the sentence, and star those indices copied from
for cases where an expression may be linked either to something
NPs that cannot be antecedents for the pronoun. For example,
with index i or to something with index j. In the rest of this section
we ignore split antecedents. (1) a. John believes that few women think that they can be
These and many other examples have been widely discussed in successful.
the recent syntactic and semantic literature. Though there con- b. John 1 believes that [few women] 2 think that they 2 , • 1 can be
tinues to be debate on the appropriate analysis of particular ana- successful.
phoric relations, there is no question that speakers do recognize the (2) a. They know few women.
possibility of some kind of interpretive dependencies in all these b. They. 1 know [few women]l.
and indefinitely many other cases. Judgments of coreference possi-
bilities (broadly understood) are fundamentally important semantic (3) She thinks that Barbara is sick.
data. (4) If she is sick, Barbara will stay home.
There are also indefinitely many cases where the intuitive judg-
(5) When he is unhappy, no man works efficiently.
ments are that such dependencies are not possible. These are
usually called judgments of disjoint reference, a kind of indepen- (6) Neither of Ann's parents thinks he is adequately paid.
dence of reference assignment. The terminology was introduced in
(7) That jerk told Dick what Mary thinks of him.
Lasnik (1976), but as with "coreference," it must be understood
somewhat loosely. The asterisks in (56) mean that the indicated (8) If she wants to, any girl in the class can jump farther than
referential dependencies are judged impermissible. The NPs in Mary.
question are, according to speakers' judgments, necessarily inter- (9) Her mother is proud of every woman.
pretively independent of one another and are not anaphorically
relatable. (10) Her mother is proud of Lisa.
Chapter 1 38 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 39

(11) My friends think that Joan's parents met each other in college. conjunction women and men, or is the NP competent women con-
(12) John promised Bill to help him. joined with the single-word NP men? One interpretation entails
that the men holding the good jobs are competent, whereas the
(13) John persuaded Bill to help him. other does not. The English sentences in (58) unambiguously con-
(14) Every girl on the block jumps rope, but she knows few vey the two possible interpretations and thus allow us informally to
rhymes. disambiguate the original sentence.

(15) The man who likes him will meet Bill tomorrow. (58) a. Women who are competent and men hold all the good
jobs in the firm.
(16) John needs to talk to Bill about himself.
b. Women who are competent and men who are competent
( 17) John needs to talk to Bill about him. hold all the good jobs in the firm.
(18) She does not realize that every girl is talented. Example (57c) illustrates both syntactic and lexical ambiguity. Is
Mary claiming that John saw the bird she possesses or that he saw
her lowering herself? These two interpretations are associated with
radically different syntactic structures (her duck is in one case like
4.2 Ambiguity me jump and in the other case like my dog) and also with distinct
Ambiguity arises when a single word or string of words is asso- lexical meanings (the noun and the verb duck have the same spell-
ciated in the language system with more than one meaning. Each of ing and pronunciation but quite distinct interpretations).
the sentences in (57) illustrates a different way in which a single Sentence (57 d) illustrates scope ambiguity. We can interpret the
expression may be assigned multiple interpretations. sentence as simply assigning some lover to each person (there is
(57) a. You should have seen the bull we got from the pope. always the person's mother!) or as saying that someone is a uni-
b. Competent women and men hold all the good jobs in the versal lover (perhaps a divinity). The ambiguity here arises from
firm. the relation between someone and everyone: a scope ambiguity is
c. Mary claims that John saw her duck. not lexical but structural. But (57 d) differs from (57b) and (57 c) in
d. Someone loves everyone. having only a single surface syntactic structure. There have been
arguments offered that sentences like (57d) do have multiple
Sentence (57a) illustrates what is called lexical ambiguity: the syntactic structures at some nonsurface level; we adopt such an
form bull can be assigned at least three quite different inter- approach in chapter 3. It is controversial, however, whether all
pretations (roughly, a papal communication, a male cow, or non- scope ambiguities reflect syntactic ambiguities. If there are sen-
sense). The sentence is ambiguous because bull is ambiguous. To tences whose ambiguity is nonlexical and that do not involve
understand sentences containing that form, to identify their entail- distinct syntactic structures, then structures or constructional prin-
ments, we need to know which of its three interpretations is being ciples that play no syntactic role are needed for semantic interpre-
used. Lexical disambiguation is exactly like knowing which word tation. We leave it as an open question whether there are any
has been used, like knowing, for example, that someone has uttered nonlexical, nonsyntactic ambiguities of this kind.
cow rather than sow. That is, an ambiguous lexical item can be For linguistic purposes, ambiguity (multiplicity of interpreta-
thought of as several different lexical items that happen to be writ- tions assigned by the language system) is distinguished both from
ten and pronounced in the same way. vagueness and from deixis or indexicality.
Sentence (57b) shows a simple kind of structural, or syntactic, Vagueness is a matter of the relative looseness or of the non-
ambiguity. We need not interpret any individual word as ambigu- specificity of interpretation. For example, many linguists is non-
ous but can attribute the ambiguity to distinct syntactic structures committal as to the precise number of linguists involved. It seems
that give rise to distinct interpretations. Is competent modifying the to be part of what we know about many that it is imprecise in this
Chapter 1 40 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 41

sense. We discuss semantic imprecision in chapter 8. Virtually all ( 1) Everyone didn't like the movie.
expressions are general: kiss does not specify whether the kiss
(2) Someone came.
lands on the lips or cheek, etc., of the one kissed. But neither many
linguists nor kiss would count as having multiple meanings on (3) Joan should be in New York.
these grounds (that is, as synonymous with, for example, 350 lin- (4) The missionaries are too hot to eat. ,
guists, 400 linguists, 379 linguists, or again with kiss on the lips,
kiss on the cheek). (5) The students are revolting.;\" ''<•"
Deixis, or indexicality, is involved when the significance of an (6) A lot of people came to Chomsky's lecture.
expression is systematically related to features of the contexts in
which the expression is used. For example, the first-person pro- (7) Andrea is feared.
noun I is an indexical expression, but it is hardly ambiguous sim- (8) Mindy likes Cynthia better than Jonathan.
ply because it is sometimes interpreted as referring to Gennaro,
(9) Visiting relatives can be tedious. .' '
sometimes to Sally, sometimes to you.
It is not always as easy to distinguish ambiguity from vagueness ( 10) Elizabeth didn't finish her thesis to please Jim.
and indexicality as our examples might suggest, and we will return (11) She was upset. I ,, ,( 'l ,J:, (\

to these topics in later chapters. One test of ambiguity is the exis-
tence of distinct paraphrases for the expression in question, each (12) John hit a boy with a book.
of which conveys only one of the interpretations in question. An (13) John left early and Bill left early or Sue left early.
expression is a paraphrase of a declarative sentence for these pur-
poses if it expresses exactly the same information as the original (14) Zelda ran the Boston marathon. ' ' .. ,
does on one way of understanding it; paraphrases will share all (15) Every faculty member was met by two s_!ud~nt g~_df3il. )\,_. '·
entailments with the given interpretation. Distinct paraphrases will ~I
( 16) Every student thinks that she is a genius. 1\ · )! ( \

usually have distinct entailments. The distinct interpretations must

not be explicable in pragmatic terms; for example, "I'd like a glass
of water" probably does not count as ambiguous, because how it is
understood depends on pragmatic factors: on what an utterance of 4.3 Synonymy
it is intended to accomplish. In general, expressions that are am- In discussing ambiguity, we mentioned the notion of one ex-
biguous can be used only with one of their meanings in any given pression's being a paraphrase of another, or synonymous with it.
situation. Exceptions are cases of punning and are clearly very Judgments of synonymy, or semantic equivalence-that distinct
special. There are many clear cases of lexical, structural, and scope expressions have the same meaning-turn out to be somewhat
ambiguities, and there are also some instances where intuitions do complex: they are relative to certain purposes or restricted to cer-
not settle the question of how different interpretations should be tain domains. If explicit content, that is, informational significance,
analyzed. For now, however, we simply want to emphasize that is all that is at stake, then the sentences in (59) count as synony-
ambiguity is an important semantic phenomenon and that it is dis- mous with one another: they share all their entailments, which is
tinct from both vagueness and indexicality. what we required of a disambiguating paraphrase.
(59) a. Those women at the corner table look ready to order.
Exercise 5 For each of the following sentences, state whether you judge it to b. Those ladies at the corner table look ready to order.
be ambiguous, and for ambiguous sentences, disambiguate them c. Those dames at the corner table look ready to order.
by providing unambiguous distinct paraphrases of their possible Suppose that one of these sentences is uttered by the head waiter to
interpretations. his underling. She doesn't quite catch what was said and asks an-
Chapter 1 42 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 43

other one of the servers, who, to report what was said, might per- Again, this judgment seems to be grounded in the fact that (62a)
fectly well reply, entails (62b) and vice versa, that they share all their entailments.
Yet doubt has been raised about the claim that passives are always
(60) He said that ...
content synonymous with the corresponding actives. Why? Pre-
and choose any one of the sentences in (59) to complete (60). It is cisely because in some cases it is not obvious that corresponding
irrelevant to the server's immediate purposes how the other server actives and passives do share all their entailments. For example,
identifies the customers that the head waiter says are ready to place (63a), first discussed in Chomsky (1957), certainly does not entail
an order, so long as she does so accurately. Even if the report is not (63b); (63a) is true, and (63b) false, if the circumstances are as de-
the same sentence that the head waiter actually uttered, the re- scribed in (63c).
porter has not misrepresented the content of what he said. She has
(63) a. Everyone in this room speaks two languages.
made a judgment of synonymy, or semantic equivalence, that fits
b. There are two particular languages such that all the people
with judgments of other native speakers.
in the room speak those languages.
The notion of synonymy involved here we call content syn-
c. There are four people in the room, one of whom speaks
onymy, and we can define it in terms of mutual entailment.
only Italian and English, another only Finnish and
(61) A is (content) synonymous with B =df A entails Band B Swedish, another only Hebrew and Russian, another only
entails A. Yoruba and French.
We could equally well have required that A and B share all their The question is whether (64), the passive counterpart of (63a), is
entailments, that is, that for any C, if A entails C, then B entails C, also true in the situation described by (63c) or in any other situa-
and vice versa. Two sentences will satisfy definition (61) if and tion where (63b) fails to be true.
only if they have all the same entailments. What content synonymy
(64) Two languages are spoken by everyone in this room.
requires is just that A and B are true in exactly the same set of
circumstances. Here judgments are much less clear. What is clear is that the syn-
There is another sense in which speakers judge that the sen- tactic difference in (63a) and (64) leads to a difference in what an
tences in (59) have different meanings and thus are not (fully) interpreter is likely to infer. From an utterance of (64) we are
synonymous. In choosing to utter one rather than another of these inclined to infer that the situation is not that described in (63c) but
sentences to describe a situation, speakers can convey something rather one where there are two particular languages that all speak,
important about their attitudes toward that situation and those in- perhaps English and Japanese. Is this inclination a matter of en-
volved in it. The differences involved are traditionally said to be tailment, or is it some less strong kind of implication? Here judg-
connotations or a matter of tone; they may ultimately be a matter of ments are divided. The important point for our present purposes is
presuppositions. In any case, they can be quite consequential. not whether (63a) and (64) are content-synonymous, whether they
Suppose, for example, that the head waiter must later defend express the same literal content. What matters for this discussion is
himself in a sex-discrimination suit filed by the server who was the strong link between negative judgments on equivalence of con-
told what he had said. In this case how he said it does indeed tent and negative judgments on identity of entailments.
matter. No one is likely to deny, of course, that the difference between
Let us turn to some different examples. Speakers judge that the the active and passive can be important in interpretation. As we
sentences in (62) share the same informational significance; they have just noted, (64) certainly suggests something that (63a) does
are content synonymous. not. And even where an active and passive clearly entail one an-
other, as in (62) and many other pairs, substitution of one string for
(62) a. The police searched Sarah.
the other in certain contexts may fail to preserve mutual entail-
b. Sarah was searched by the police.
Chapter 1 44 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 45

ments. The sentences in (65), for instance, clearly do not entail one cisely the same purposes, then it is no surprise that plausible can-
another. didates are hard to find.
(65) a. Unwillingly the police searched Sarah. [The mayor forced On the other hand, mutual entailment can be quite reliably
them.] judged, as can certain other properties relevant to semantic equiv-
b. Unwillingly Sarah was searched by the police. [They had to alence (for example, identity offoeal structure). Mutual entailment,
tie her down.] however, is basic; it generally provides the minimal basis for judg-
ments of synonymy relied on in assessing accuracy of translations
In other words, how a sentence structures the content it expresses from one language to another and of second-party reports of what
can apparently matter to the contribution that sentence makes to someone has said. Sometimes more is needed for an adequate
the content of sentences in which it is embedded. Even if A and B translation or report, but mutual entailment is the necessary start-
have exactly the same entailments, it seems that two sentences C(A) ing point.
and C(B) that differ from one another only in that C(B) contains B
where C(A) contains A may differ in their entailments.
There are other ways in which sentences that express the same 4.4 Contradiction
content can, in some sense, differ in meaning. For example, con- Contradiction is intimately linked to entailment. When we said that
sider the different utterances in (66), the first of which places focus (14), "Lee kissed Kim passionately," entails (15d), "Lee touched
on Mary, the second of which places focus on cake (italics indicate Kim with her lips," for example, we were guided by the judgment
focal stress). The sentences in (67), while structurally different, are that (69), the conjunction of (14) with the negation of (15d), is
identical in focal structure (and arguably also in entailments) to contradictory.
those in (66).
(69) Lee kissed Kim passionately, but she [Lee] didn't touch him
(66) a. Mary baked the cake. [Kim] with her lips.
b. Mary baked the cake.
What is meant by saying that (69) is contradictory? We can infor-
(67) a. It was Mary who baked the cake. mally define contradiction in either of the following ways:
b. It was the cake that Mary baked.
(70) A is contradictory =df
Sentences (66a) and (67a), which focus on Mary, might both be • A can never be true
used, for example, to answer someone who uttered (68a), whereas • there is no possible situation describable by A
(66b) and (67b), which focus on cake, strike us as badly suited
for that job but just what is needed to answer someone who asks That is, in judging (69) to be contradictory, we deem that it is false
(68b). no matter what the facts might be, that it describes no possible situ-
ation. Contradiction can also be thought of as a relation between
(68) a. Who baked the cake? sentences; the informal definitions in (71) can get us started.
b. What did Mary bake?
(71) A and Bare contradictory =df
It is sometimes claimed that perfect synonymy does not exist. • A and B cannot both be true; whenever A is true, B is false,
What is usually meant by this is that formally distinct expressions and whenever B is true, A is false.
are nearly always used in somewhat different ways, are appropriate • a situation describable by A cannot also be a situation
in somewhat different contexts. This can involve their syntactic describable by B
structure, their tone, what they suggest, the metaphoric possibil-
ities they evoke, even matters of phonological and phonetic struc- When we speak of one person x contradicting another person y,
ture. If synonymy of distinct expressions means that we judge them we mean that what x has asserted contradicts what y has asserted.
appropriate in exactly the same range of contexts, effective for pre- Lois's response of no to her mother's assertion A is tantamount to
Chapter 1 46 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 47

an assertion by Lois of "not A," which contradicts her mother. A c. To laugh is very humid.
and B are said to be contradictories if each contradicts the other; A d. The fact that cheese is green skipped inadvertently.
and not A are contradictories par excellence. If a sentence is con- e. Being a theorem frightens consternation.
tradictory, it will have entailments that are contradictories. More f My toothbrush is blonde and buxom.
specifically, among its entailments will be a pair of sentences one g. That rock thinks it's too g0od to hold the door open.
of which is the negative of the other. Chomsky (1965) introduced the notion of selectional restrictions
As with intuitions about entailments, initial judgments about to mark such sentences as ungrammatical. A verb like drink, he
contradictoriness can be subjected to further tests. We can defeat a noticed, carries the information that its object designates something
claim that A and B are contradictory by showing a situation to drinkable-a liquid or semiliquid substance perhaps, but at the
which they both apply. very least something concrete rather than abstract-and that its
Sometimes sentences that overtly express contradictions are subject designates something that might be a drinker, minimally, an
used for other purposes. For example, (72a) might receive as an animate being, we might suppose. The idea, then, was to provide a
answer (72b), which looks like a contradiction but is interpreted mechanism to ensure that drink selects only arguments satisfying
along the (noncontradictory) lines suggested in (72c). We do not such restrictions. From information given in its lexical entry,
simply interpret the speaker who utters (72b) as committed to an drink would be marked by something like the following "selec-
impossibility. tional feature":
(72) a. Is Andrea smart? (74) [+[+animate] _ [-abstract]]
b. She (Andrea] is [smart], and she [Andrea] isn't [smart].
c. Andrea is smart in some respects but not smart in other This is a contextual feature indicating that drink must only be in-
respects. serted where there is a preceding animate subject and a following
nonabstract object. Subject and object NPs, it was assumed, would
We consider similar examples in more detail in chapter 8, section 5. receive feature specifications from their head nouns; humanity,
for example, would be marked [+abstract] and square root
(-animate]. Violations of selectional restrictions would arise from
4.5 Anomaly mismatches between features and would be ungrammatical. 8
Contradictions are clearly incoherent; we might well say that (69) Sentences like those in (73) do seem very strange, and their
doesn't make sense because it entails contradictories. Few would strangeness seems different from that of a simple contradiction like
be tempted to say that (69) is ungrammatical, however, or that it is (69), "Lee kissed Kim passionately, but she didn't touch him with
completely meaningless. The problem seems to be that its meaning her lips." The constituent clauses in (69), "Lee kissed Kim pas-
includes, in some sense, obviously incompatible parts, the two sionately" and "she (Lee] didn't touch him (Kim] with her lips,"
clauses that are conjoined. Each of the constituent clauses is, how- are each semantically unproblematic; each describes a possible
ever, perfectly fine on its own; incoherence arises from combining situation. The oddness ·of (69) is that passionate kissing and not
them. touching with the lips are brought together in a single event. The
Incoherent sentences that are not surface conjunctions of contra- anomalous sentences in (73) are not strange in precisely the same
dictory sentences do not so blatantly generate contradictory entail- ways or to the same degree. Some of them even seem more sus-
ments. Indeed, their incoherence is often such that we are hard ceptible to being put to good use than does (69). We can imagine
pressed to see that they have any entailments at all. Linguists have ways of interpreting sentences like (73/) and (73g), for example
spoken of anomaly in cases like those illustrated in ( 73). (someone might, for instance, have a toothbrush that looks like a
(73) a. The square root of Milly's desk drinks humanity. woman, or someone might pretend or even believe that rocks are
b. Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. thinking beings). Yet (73a) and (73e) seem virtually impossible to
Chapter 1 48 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 49

make any sense of (the very notion of square root would seem to (75) Lindsey wonders whether being a theorem frightens
preclude a desk's having one or it's being something that might consternation.
drink, and similarly, consternation seems incomparable to the kinds
Sentence (75) seems hardly easier to interpret than sentence (73e).
of things that can be frightened: people and other sentient beings).
Similarly, sentence (73a) seems to resist any kind of interpretation:
It has often been pointed out that poetic uses of language are
a desk is not a number and therefore in some.fundamental way not
sometimes anomalous if interpreted in the usual and most obvious
the sort of thing that could have a square root, and numbers are not
ways. Personification, for example, is a familiar poetic device, and
the sort of things that drink.
(73!) and (73g) might easily be interpreted from that perspective.
The correct conclusion may be that judgments of anomaly pick
But the very fact that interpretation of these sentences typically
out a somewhat heterogeneous set of expressions, some of which
suggests that their utterers are presenting toothbrushes and rocks
are simply contradictions (with the incompatible entailments
as personlike calls for some explanation. Sentence ( 73b), famous
perhaps less immediate than in the cases that are obvious con-
from Chomsky's use of it in Syntactic Structures to illustrate the
tradictions), others of which describe situations that are bizarre
possibility of divergence between grammatical and semantic well-
because of how the world works, and others of which involve a
formedness, is the final line of a poem by John Hollander, where it
kind of semantic incompatibility other than that of contradiction
seems vaguely evocative. 9 Again, the question of how its appro-
(perhaps a semantic analogue of the notion of a violation of selec-
priateness there is achieved needs to be addressed.
tional restrictions).
The point is not that the sentences in ( 73) are semantically ac-
What might this special kind of semantic incompatibility be like?
ceptable (although some of them may be) but rather that they are
It might somehow be part of the meaning of drink, for example, that
semantically distinct from one another, and a theory that simply
it is only predicable of a certain range or sort of object, a sort that
marks them all as meaningless does not reveal this. As in the case
does not (at least in normal or literal uses) include square roots.
of straightforward contradictions, the individual words and the
Though it might be difficult to decide for a particular sentence
syntactic constructions are semantically unproblematic; what is
whether it is sortally deviant (what is often called a category mis-
odd are the combinations, and some are much odder than others.
take in the philosophical literature) or anomalous in some other
In some cases the oddness seems linked more to the structure of
way, semantic anomaly, as illustrated in (73), is quite pervasive, is
the world than to facts about linguistic meaning: rocks just aren't
apparently distinct from the other phenomena we have considered,
the kind of thing that thinks, as it happens, but this seems less a
and seems clearly to call for some kind of semantic account.
matter of what rock and think mean than a matter of what rocks and
One proposal is that some kinds of anomaly involve incompati-
thinking are like. People are inclined to say that someone might
ble presuppositions. This would make anomaly analogous to con-
wonder or claim or wish that rocks think. The study of artificial
tradiction, which involves incompatible entailments. The problem
intelligence has raised the possibility of machines' thinking, a pos-
of distinguishing (certain cases of) anomaly from contradiction
sibility that might well have been deemed as strange a century or so
would then reduce to the problem of distinguishing presupposition
ago as that of rocks' thinking. On the other hand, (73e) seems far
from entailment, a matter we have touched on already and will
more peculiar; because it is an abstract entity, consternation is
later take up in more detail.
completely outside the realm of things than might be frightened.
We cannot begin to understand someone's wondering whether
consternation has been frightened. Someone who utters (73e) with
4.6 Appropriateness
apparent seriousness will l:>e thought to have made a slip of the
One characteristic of anomalous expressions is that they are inap-
tongue or some other linguistic mistake (perhaps not knowing the
propriate for use in most contexts. People seen: able to jud~e th~t
meanings of some of the words used), to be suffering from some
particular expressions are or are not appropnate for uttermg m
form of aphasia, to be mentally disturbed in some way. It would be
particular contexts, and some have tried to incorporate an account
quite strange for another to report the event by saying,
of appropriateness conditions into a theory of linguistic semantics.
Chapter 1 50 The Empirical Domain of Semantics 51

As we noted above in section 3.2, sentences are often judged inap- which they might be appropriate, though for some expressions
propriate for contexts where their presuppositions are at issue or we might be able to characterize at least partially the class of
somehow controversial. Appropriateness is sometimes held to be a inappropriate contexts (see the discussion of presupposition in
more general and useful notion for semantic theory than that of chapter 6).
truth, or descriptive applicability, which was central to our dis- Appropriateness is also invoked in dealing with matters of sty-
cussion of entailments and contradictions. Only declaratives are listic register: certain forms are reserved for church services, others
sensibly said to describe a situation, or to be true of certain cir- are appropriate for the locker room, others for family dinners. It is
cumstances; interrogatives and imperatives are susceptible to the generally inappropriate to mix registers, to use them in the wrong
defect of inappropriateness rather than that of falsity. It is some- contexts, just as it is inappropriate to wear tennis shoes with a ball
times thought that a theory of appropriateness might replace a gown or to wear a ball gown to your linguistics class. Appropriate-
semantic theory based on truth. Appropriateness is often appealed ness here seems linked to cognitive significance: choosing a certain
to in explaining how speech acts are performed, how we manage to style signals a certain attitude toward the speech situation.
"do things with words": assert, inquire, promise, entreat, and the The notion of appropriateness is thus something of a mixed bag.
like. Some examples will illustrate. It is inappropriate for us to Appropriateness does not seem to be structured like truth. There is
promise you to do something that we do not believe ourselves no generally recognized relation of one expression's being depen-
capable of doing (teach you all there is to know about meaning) or dent on another for its appropriateness parallel to the entailment
to do something we have no intention of doing (resign our positions relation, where one sentence must be true if another is. Nor does
if you don't like our book). It is inappropriate to assert something appropriateness seem to be readily amenable to a compositional
that we do not ourselves believe or that we do not want to give you treatment; certainly, no one has offered any general account of how
reason to believe. It is generally inappropriate to inquire whether to project appropriateness of (indefinitely many) complex expres-
pigs have wings if we know whether pigs have wings (though, of sions from appropriateness-related properties of their constituents.
course, examiners in pig biology may put the question to their In other words, it does not seem that appropriateness will replace
students, knowing full well its answer). In chapter 4, we discuss truth as a fundamental notion for semantic theory.
speech acts in some detail. To perform a certain speech act is, in Nonetheless, recent work on such topics as presupposition has
part, to adopt a certain attitude toward the content of what one says suggested that certain aspects of appropriateness may be charac-
and perhaps also sometimes to urge a certain attitude on the part of terizable in a much more rigorous way than was once thought pos-
the hearer ("Is that a promise or a threat?"). sible. As we pointed out, the sentences "Lee got a perfect score on
A related but slightly different area where appropriateness is ap- the semantics quiz" and "It was Lee who got a perfect score on the
pealed to is in judgments of whether a particular expression fits in a semantics quiz" entail one another; truth-based considerations do
particular discourse slot, whether the discourse itself is sensible not distinguish them. The latter sentence, however, presupposes
coherent. If you have just uttered (76a) to the instructor, then (76b)' that someone got a perfect score, whereas the former does not. As
seems highly inappropriate as her response. we shall see in chapter 6, the presupposition of the cleft restricts
the range of contexts in which its utterance is appropriate. It would
(76) a. Can I have a copy of the answer sheet?
be inappropriate to utter it in response to the question "Did anyone
b. Yes, and Joan is similar.
get a perfect score on the semantics quiz?" for example. Consider-
There are clearly many more factors involved in assessing dis- able progress is being made in developing empirically sound and
course appropriateness than what linguistic expressions mean. For theoretically sophisticated discourse theories that elucidate what is
example, relevance is a factor in assessing discourse appropriate- involved in such judgments for these and certain other kinds of
ness, and knowing what is relevant may involve all kinds of cases. We will also see that something systematic can be said about
nonlinguistic knowledge. It seems quite unlikely that we could ex- how presuppositions of complex sentences relate to the presup-
plicitly specify for all sentences of the discourse all the contexts in positions of constituent sentences.
Chapter 1 52 2 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning

5 Summary
We have given thereader an indication of the main aspects of lan-
guage that a theory of meaning must deal with. Meanings form a
productive system in which new meanings can always be ex-
pressed. There are aspects of meaning that may be constant across
all human languages. Furthermore, meaning encodes information
about the world and plays a role in giving a shape to our mental
states. A theory of meaning must shed light on all these issues. We Introduction
have also discussed the different types of semantic judgments in We have outlined what we think the empirical coverage of a theory
which what we know about meaning manifests itself, and we have of meaning should be. This will help us in directly addressing the
provided a preliminary classification of such judgments. We are question, What is meaning? Answers should be evaluated on the
capable of assessing certain semantic properties of expressions and basis of how well they account for the phenomena singled out in
how two expressions are semantically related. These properties chapter 1.
and relationships and the capacity that underlies our recognition of The question of what meaning is, is important to any discipline
them constitute the empirical base of semantics. concerned, directly or indirectly, with cognition, that is, with how
In presenting a theory of semantics that tries to shed light on humans process information. To indicate where we stand with
all these aspects of meaning, we are guided throughout by what respect to some of the traditional views of meaning, it is convenient
Jackendoff (1983, 13) dub~ the "grammatical constraint": "prefer to classify approaches to meaning in three groups.
a semantic theory that explains otherwise arbitrary generaliza- The first family of theories can be labeled "referential" or "de-
tions about the syntax and the lexicon." The adherence to this con- notational." This kind of theory is outward looking; its main
straint is what perhaps most sharply distinguishes our approach emphasis is on the informational significance of language, its
from that of philosophical logicians. aboutness. Meaningfulness lies, according to this view, in the rela-
tions of symbols and configurations thereof to objects of various
kinds. The study of meaning is the study of such relations. This
tradition is the basis of the semantic techniques that have been de-
veloped within mathematical and philosophical logic.
It seems reasonable to maintain that the study of the relation of
symbols to what they stand for must indeed be part of an account of
meaning. For otherwise, how could we understand the fundamen-
tal fact that configurations of symbols carry information about all
the diverse aspects of our experience?
A second family of theories of meaning might be labeled "psy-
chologistic" or "mentalistic." Theories of this sort are inward
looking and focus on the cognitive significance of language. The
meaning of a configuration of symbols, according to this view, lies
in what we grasp when we manipulate them; that is, it lies in the
internalized representation of their retrievable content. The study
of meaning is the study of how contents are mentally represented,
the study of semantic representations. This tradition is the basis of
much semantic work in psychology and artificial intelligence.
It seems reasonable to maintain that a given configuration of
symbols has meaning for us only if we are able to grasp its content,
Chapter 2 54 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 55

which involves mentally representing it. If such representations are system of symbols. We have to understand how information flows
crucial in mediating between symbols and their content, we must when we interact in certain ways. Only that, we think, can give to a
not exclude them from semantics. theory of semantic representation its actual semantic bite.
A third family of theories might be labeled "social" or "prag- The denotational perspective (the first one of those outlined
matic." Its emphasis is on communication as a social activity. above) seems to be promising in. connection with the problem of
According to this view, meaningfulness lies essentially in the way explaining the link between symbols and their information content,
agents use symbols in the course of their interactions with each in connection with the aboutness of language. In a nutshell, from a
other. denotational point of view, symbols stand for objects. Conse-
Again, it seems indubitable that we actually do things with quently, configurations of symbols can be used to encode how
words (saying "I promise to behave" constitutes, under the right objects are arranged and related to one another. We believe that this
circumstances, making a promise) and that key semantic notions simple idea can be further articulated and developed into a full-
like referring or making sense of some set of symbols involve fledged theory of what we are calling "information content." We
activities. The way we actually use symbols, what we do with will try to argue that such a theory leads to valuable insights about
words, must play a central role in semantic considerations. the structure and role of semantic representations and also meshes
We believe that these three perspectives are by no means incom- well with a view of language as a social activity. We hope, how-
patible. On the contrary, meaning has all three aspects (namely, the ever, that even the reader who is not fully convinced by these
denotational, representational, and pragmatic aspects). Any theory arguments will find in what follows a battery of puzzles, tech-
that ignores any of them will deprive itself of a source of insight niques, and ideas crucially relevant to semantic analysis.
and is ultimately likely to prove unsatisfactory.
Suppose that we adopted an approach of the second kind, an
approach that studied meaning by relating symbols to mental rep- 2 Denotation
resentations or mental procedures of some sort, and stopped there. It is often said that a name, Pavarotti, say, refers to or denotes its
That would amount to limiting the domain of semantics to the re- bearer (the popular singer). We shall use denotation, denotatum,
lations between a language, which is a form of representation, and reference, and semantic value for what a name (or some other ex-
another representation. In other words, one would be relating two pression) denotes.
representations, translating one into the other (for example, trans- The significance of a name does appear to consist largely of its
lating our public language into an internal mental code, our "lan- being related to a given semantic value, a certain individual, say.
guage of thought," say 1 ). But how can mapping a representation Conceivably, the same paradigm might be extended to kinds of
onto another representation explain what a representation means, expressions other than proper names; perhaps it might be extended
that is, what its information content is? Representations, routines, to expressions of any kind whatsoever. If that turned out to be the
and procedures that manipulate symbols are precisely the kinds of case, the denotation relation might constitute the most fundamental
things that have meaning. Mapping a representation A onto a rep- semantic relation.
resentation B will not in itself tell us what representation A means.
It will simply transform the problem of what A means into the
problem of what B means. Only if we know what B means, what 2.1 Denotation and the foundations of semantics
information B carries, will mapping A onto B help. In other words, Other noun phrases (NPs) besides proper names seem to derive
even if our interaction with the world is always mediated by rep- their significance or semantic power from their reference. For
resentation systems, understanding such systems will eventually example,
involve considering what the systems are about, what they are
( 1) a. It is a pencil.
representations of. 2
b. This is yellow.
Thus, what is needed is some way of talking about what a repre-
c. The tallest man in the world lives in Los Angeles.
sentation represents, that is, a theory of the information content of a
Chapter 2 56 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 57

For an utterance of (1a) to be felicitous, there must be some salient In (3a) the subject NP refers to a plurality of students in a distribu-
object in the context that is taken as the semantic value of the pro- tive way. That is, the property of being American is attributed in-
noun it. Similar considerations apply to ( 1b), where the reference of dividually to each student in the relevant class. In contrast, in (3b)
the demonstrative this might be individuated in our perceptual the subject NP refers to a plurality in a collective way. No individ-
space by means of an act or demonstration. Sentence (1c) is an ual student in the relevant class outnumbers anything; only the
example that contains a definite description. The reference of the students as a group do. NPs can also refer to substances, actions,
subject NP in (1c) is determined by whoever satisfies or fits the and abstract entities:
descriptive content expressed by the nominal tallest man in the
(4) a. Gold is expensive.
world. Typical properties of definite descriptions are that they
b. Running is healthy.
sound odd if nothing or more than one thing satisfies their de-
c. Justice should be prized.
scriptive content, as illustrated by the following examples:
They can refer to fictional characters:
(2) a. The present queen of France is smart.
b. The book that Agatha Christie wrote is about Hercule Poirot. (5) Bond is my hero.

What is strange about utterances of these sentences is that there is What these examples suggest is that saying that the meaning of NPs
no present queen of France and that Agatha Christie has written such as those we have been considering consists of their relation to
more than one book about Hercule Poirot. A theory of definite some denotatum is not saying much. Even at this preliminary level
descriptions would have to account for these oddities. one can see that this view needs to be supplemented by theories of
Let us go back to referential NPs in general. To convince oneself pluralities, abstract entities, fictional characters, etc.
that the notion of reference is central for the NPs in (1), it is suffi- In fact, there is a general point that is appropriate to make in this
cient to ask the following simple question: Could we say that we connection. To say that an NP like those we have been considering
understand the meaning of the NPs in (1) if we didn't know what refers to an individual does not commit us to any preconceived
they referred to? Hardly, it would seem. The NPs in (1a) and (1b) view of what individuals are, nor does it presuppose that the notion
clearly convey no information by themselves. The NP in (1c) does, of an individual is unproblematic. This comes up in an obvious
yet its semantic role is to create an appropriate referential connec- way when we deal with, say, abstract nouns, as in (4c), but it is true
tion with some entity, and there is something distinctly odd (as we of ordinary physical objects as well. Physical objects form causal
have seen in connection with (2)) if such a referential connection patterns whose individuation across time or whose location in our
cannot be established. Thus, the notion of reference appears to be a perceptual space raise very interesting puzzles. To use a classical
fundamental component of what the NPs in question mean. example, all the material parts of a table can be gradually changed
Of course, to grant this is not enough. Even if we believed that in subsequent repairs and yet the table might be regarded as the
what makes the NPs in (1) meaningful is their relation to a denota- same object before and after such repairs. Thus what we must mean
tion, one would still need an account of, for example, the much by the table cannot be simply identified with the sum of portions of
more direct role that the context plays in, say, fixing the reference matter that make it up at a given time. Questions of this sort actu-
of (1a, b) as compared to (1c). Even remaining within the limits of ally turn out to have direct semantic relevance. 3
referential NPs, there is a wide variety of issues that a theory of In spite of all the problems that there are, it is hard to see how in
reference faces. semantics one could dispense with the notion of an individual or
NPs can refer not just to individuals but also to pluralities or with the notion of reference. Among other things, such notions
collections of individuals: seem to support a compositional theory of semantic relations (such
as entailment or presupposition), even if all they do is link seman-
(3) a. The students in my class are American.
tics to theories of how objects of various sorts are conceptualized.
b. The students in my class outnumber those in yours.
We hope that this idea will become clearer as we go along.
Chapter 2 58 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 59

The following considerations add a further dimension to the approximation one might say, for instance, that "Pavarotti is cute"
problem of reference. Take the example in (6). conveys information about Pavarotti, because the name occurring
(6) A/some/every/no student in my class is blond. in that sentence refers to that singer. Thus, what we say using the
name Pavarotti will be understood as being about that particular
In all these cases we have a nominal (student in my class) that entity. However, we have argued ·in chapter 1 that there are other
is combined with what is generally called a determiner (a, some, empirical phenomena that a theory of meaning should account for,
every, no, etc.). What could the resulting NPs in (6) denote? It is far such as what we have called the productivity of meaning and
from clear. One is tempted to say, Nothing at all. In fact, these NPs judgments of semantic relatedness. How can we extend the deno-
are often called nonreferential. tational approach that we are considering so as to account for these
There just is no obvious simple way to find a reference for NPs other phenomena?
like every student. One might try to argue that everyr student de- To account for productivity, it seems that we need two things:
notes the class of students. Then the sentence "Every student out- first, a way to determine what expressions of syntactic categories
numbers the professors" should have a sensible meaning that is other than that of NPs denote, second, a procedure to determine
roughly paraphrasable as "The class of students outnumbers the how the reference of complex expressions depends on the refer-
professors." But it doesn't. Furthermore, one would expect that a ence of their components.
sentence like "Every Italian doesn't like Pavarotti" should be un- Let us see what the problems involved are by looking at a simple
ambiguous and mean roughly "The class of Italians does not like example.
Pavarotti." But such a sentence has (at least) two readings: "Not
every Italian likes Pavarotti" and "Every Italian dislikes Pavarotti." (7) Pavarotti is an Italian singer.
Arguments in a similar vein can be constructed against other simi- Sentence (7) is generated by combining the NP Pavarotti with the
lar attempts to find a straightforward and intuitively simple deno- verb phrase (VP) is an Italian singer. We might say that the VP is an
tation for the other NPs in (6). Italian singer has a property as its semantic value. Properties can
be predicated of individuals. The result of predicating a property of
an individual is something like a state of affairs or situation. So
Exercise 1 Assume that a woman denotes an arbitrarily chosen woman. What sentence ( 7) might be regarded as having a situation (or a state of
problems does this assumption run into? (Hint: consider what affairs) as its semantic value, intuitively, one in which Pavarotti has
sentences like "In my class, a woman is blond and a woman is the property of being an Italian singer.
red-haired and ... " and "Every man loves a woman" would be It might be possible to extend this strategy to more complex
expected to mean under the assumption in question.) Assume that constructions. Forming an hypothesis concerning the denotation
no woman denotes a class that contains no women. Argue for or of other categories besides NPs, and in particular concerning the
against such an hypothesis. denotation of sentences, might help us in this task. To see this, let
us take a first stab at the hard problem of such nonreferential NPs as
every woman or no woman. We might try to analyze such NPs
So, if we wish to pursue the idea that meaning can be accounted along the following lines. Let us say that these NPs indeed lack a
for in terms of a relation between expressions and their denotata, denotation. This does not mean that they do not play any semantic
then the problem of nonreferential NPs constitutes a formidable role. The semantic role of, say, no woman would be that of com-
challenge. bining with a property (such as, say, the one associated with the VP
Now as pointed out in the introduction to this chapter, part ofthe smokes) to yield a situation or state of affairs in which no woman
appeal of the idea that semantics is essentially denotationallies in smokes. The idea is to specify the semantic role of nonreferential
the fact that it would enable one to explain the aboutness of lan- NPs indirectly via the contribution that they make to the specifica-
guage, how it is that expressions have content. As a very rough first tion or description of the state of affairs associated with the sen-
Chapter 2 60 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 61

tences in which they occur. The same strategy might be applied to What states of affairs can (8a, b) denote? There is no actual state of
other nonreferential expressions (such as and, because, etc.). affairs or situation that corresponds to (8a). Perhaps we might say
Of course, to pursue this line of analysis we would have to over- that (8a) denotes a "hypothetical" or "possible" situation. Simi-
come many more problems (for example, nonreferential NPs com- larly, what sort of a state of affairs or situation can (Bb) denote? It
bine with expressions of many different syntactic categories, must be some kind of "conditional" state of affairs.
prepositions, for example, as in "I walked with every student, " But notations like "possible state of affairs" or "conditional situ-
etc.). But the above considerations do lend some preliminary sup- ations" are quite abstract and not immediately clear; in particular,
port to the idea that our overall strategy of providing a referential they do not appear to be any clearer than the notion of a sentence
analysis for various kinds of expressions may be viable. If so, we denotation, which is what we want to explain. And objections of
could have an arguably elegant account for the productivity of this kind are not confined to sentence denotations. They also apply,
meaning in terms of a primitive denotation relation. for example, to the notion of "property," that is, what we have in-
Here is how we proceed. We can classify objects in various se- dicated as a possible candidate for the role of VP denotations.
mantic categories (say, individuals, properties, situations, etc.), and What about intuitions of semantic relatedness? Here lies the
we can individuate various ways of combining those objects (for heart of the problem for the kind of semantic approach we have
example, predication combines individuals with properties to give been considering. To see this, take the following example:
states of affairs). Expressions of different syntactic categories would (9) Someone is an Italian singer.
be associated with objects of different semantic categories (or
types); syn.tactic modes of putting expressions together would cor- Clearly, (7) is related to (9). The information that (9) conveys is
respond to ways of combining the objects that those expressions somehow implicit in (7), and this knowledge is part of what we
denote. In this way one could always compositionally figure out the know about the meanings of (7) and (9). So, for example, it is im-
object that any given expression denotes in terms of objects that its possible to assert (7) and deny (9). The relation between (7) and (9)
component expressions denote and the way in which they are put is that of entailment, discussed in chapter 1.
together. This also explains more precisely how configurations We know that any sentence can enter a potential infinity of such
of symbols carry information about arbitrarily complex states of relationships. That is, any sentence entails and is entailed by a po-
tential infinity of other sentences, and when confronted with a pair
This program is thus of potential interest, for there are grounds to of sentences, we are in general able to judge what entails what.
believe that it might account for both the aboutness of language and Appealing to properties, predication, situations, and the like will
the productivity of meaning, two important desiderata for a se- not suffice, unless these notions are able to support a theory of
mantic theory. There are, however, some further problems that call semantic relatedness, among other things, a theory of entailment. In
for attention. We can bring them into focus by considering in more particular, to enable us to characterize entailment, the structure of
detail the kinds of entities that we need to assume as semantic properties or situations must be rich enough to support a logic.
values for expressions of categories other than NP. Let us consider Appealing to properties or situations without specifying their logic
in particular sentence denotations, what we have intuitively called is, in Donald Davidson's words, labeling a problem rather than
"situations" or "states of affairs." solving it.
First notice that the notion of a situation or state of affairs that we Again, it should be intuitively clear that the above argument
need to supportthe notion of a sentence denotation is itself quite applies not just to properties or situations but also to sorts of things
problematic. To see this consider the following examples: that we might want to assign to expressions as semantic values.
Appealing to any kind of thing whatsoever will be of little help if
(8) a. Pavarotti is French. the logical structure of such a kind is not specified, that is, if no
b. If Pavarotti sings "0 che gelide manine," I want to be theory of entailment comes with it.
Chapter 2 62

Now it is appropriate to ask the following question: what would

it mean for, say, a theory of situations (or states of affairs) to be able
to support a characterization of entailment? Let's go back to exam-
ples (7) and (9). A plausible first guess would be to say that the situ-
ation or state of affairs that (9) refers to is somehow contained in
the situation that (7) is associated with. Equivalently, we might say
that whenever the situation described by (7) occurs, the one de-
scribed by (9) must occur. This, in turn, is equivalent to saying that
whenever (7) is true, (9) must also be: saying that the situation
denoted by a sentence occurs is tantamount to saying that the sen-
tence in question is true. These preliminary considerations suggest
that the logic of notions of potential semantic interest is linked in
some crucial way to the notion of truth. In section 3 we will begin
to explore this line of thought.
But before addressing directly the relation of denotation to truth,
we would like to point out another interesting puzzle that specifi-
cally concerns the notion of sentence reference. The solution to this
puzzle, advocated by the mathematician and philosopher Gottlob
Frege, appeals to the notion of sense. First, we turn to the puzzle.

2.2 Reference and sense

We have assumed so far that a sentence denotes something like
a state of affairs, or a situation. We shall now argue that this
assumption, along with two rather plausible principles, leads to
highly counterintuitive results. 4 The principles in question are the
(10) a. Two expressions that entail each other (that are content-
synonymous) have the same reference.
b. If we have an expression A containing an expression B and
we replace B in A with an expression C that has the same
reference as B, the reference of A does not change.
We claim that these principles constitute valid generalizations
about referential NPs. Let us convince ourselves that (lOa, b) are
true of referential NPs. Consider
(11) a. the sister ofJohn
b. the daughter of John's parents
Content synonymy has been defined so far only for sentences.
However, it is possible to generalize it to expressions of other cate-
Chapter 2 62 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 63

what would gories. In particular; we can say that a referential NP A entails an-
rs) to be able other NP B whenever the sentence "xis A" entails "xis B." Clearly,
:tck to exam- "xis John's sister" and "xis the daughter of John's parents" entail
that the situ- each other. Thus, by the definition just given, the NPs (11a) and
~ontained in (11b) entail each other. And our semantic competence tells us
ve might say clearly that they also must refer to the same individual (whoever
the one de- that may be). Thus principle (lOa) appears to be true as applied to
:J saying that referential NPs.
he ·situation Consider now principle (lOb). It is easy to see that this too is true
that the sen- of referential NPs. Relevant examples are of the following kind:
:ions suggest (12) a. the sister of John
is linked in b. the sister of Mary's husband
re will begin
Suppose that John is Mary's husband; that is, suppose that John and
tion to truth, Mary's husband have the same reference. Expression (12b) is the
that specifi- result of substituting "Mary's husband" for "John" in (12a). Using
lution to this the schema given in (lOb), (12a) is our A, John is our Band Mary's
pher Gottlob husband our C. Again, our intuitions are pretty sharp on this score:
the puzzle. if John is Mary's husband, the reference of(12a) and (12b) must be
the same, just as (lOb) would predict.
So, the principles in (10) appear to characterize correctly two
properties of the denotation (or reference) relation, as exhibited by
nething like referential NPs. We are trying to build our semantics on (some ver-
ue that this sion of) such a relation by generalizing it from NPs to other cate-
les, leads to gories of expressions. Thus, we ought to expect such principles
stion are the to hold also with respect to the denotation of expressions differ-
ent from NPs. There is no reason to expect these principles to be
limited just to the denotation of NPs if denotation is a unitary
a ~ontent- semantic relation. In particular, these principles should apply to
the reference of sentences. Let us see what happens.
::~ssionBand Take two arbitrary sentences (say, "It snows" and "Pavarotti is
ts the same cute") and suppose that the only thing that they have in common is that they happen to be both true or both false. Let us introduce
1eralizations some handy terminology. If a sentence is true, we say that its truth
(10-a, b) are value is true (abbreviated as T). If a sentence is false, we say that its
truth value is false (abbreviated as F). Consider now the following:
(13) a. Pavarotti is cute.
b. The truth value of "Pavarotti is cute" = T.
c. The truth value of "It snows"= T.
r sentences. d. It snows.
lf other cate-
Chapter 2 64

We are going to show that by principles (10a, b), (13a) and (13d)
must refer to the same thing. First, notice that (13a) and (13b) entail
each other. For suppose that (13a) is true. Then the truth value of
"Pavarotti is cute" is T, and (13b) would be saying that the truth
value of "Pavarotti is cute" (namely T) equals T, which, of course,
is indeed the case. Suppose, on the other hand, that (13a) is false.
Then ( 13b) will be false too, since the truth value of "Pavarotti is
cute" would be F, and (13b) would be saying that F equals T, which
is clearly false. Since (13a) and (13b) entail each other, they must
have the same reference, by principle (10a).
Now (13b) and (13c) must also have the same reference, this time
in virtue of (10b), since by hypothesis (13a) and (13d) have the
same truth value and (13c) is obtained from (13b) by replacing in it
the definite description the truth value of "Pavarotti is cute" with
the coreferential definite description the truth value of "It snows."
Finally, (13c) and (13d) must have the same reference, because
they too entail each other (the reasoning here is fully parallel to
that used to show the content synonymy of(13a) and (13b)).
Thus, if (lOa, b) are true generalizations about reference, as they
appear to be in the case of NP reference, then two arbitrary sen-
tences with the same truth value must have the same reference, or
But now look: in the cases where the truth value of sentences can
be determined, there are going to be only two truth values (true and
false). We have chosen in (13) two sentences that, aside from truth
values, have nothing in common semantically. At the same time we
have shown that they must have the same denotatum. But then
what can this denotatum be? Clearly, the denotatum must be
something that those sentences have in· common, namely, their
truth value. That is, if the principles iri (10) are valid, then the
denotation of a sentence must be its truth value. To put this iri
different terms, if we want to maintain the principles in (10a, b),
and also the idea that sentences refer to states of affairs, we are. ·.
forced to conclude that there can be at most two such things: the
true state of affairs and the false one. But this seems counter-.
intuitive at best.
. What way out do we have? Perhaps there is something wrong
with the principles in (10) as applied to semantic values of sen~.· ·.
tences. But it seems hard to tell what and why if the logical struc~
ture of the notion of a sentence denotation isn't spelled out
clearly. Or perhaps we can say that the denotation of sentences
Chapter 2 G4 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 65

Ia) and (13d) indeed their truth value. In other words, our strategy of developing
d (13b) entail a semantic theory in which referential NPs are the model for refer-
ruth value of ence generally has as one of its consequences that sentences must
:hat the truth be taken to refer to truth values. We do not in fact have an obvious
::h, of course, pretheoretical understanding of a notion of sentence reference; our
:13a) is false. everyday talk is of sentences' describing situations, not referring to
"Pavarotti is them. Still, many find it odder to think of sentences as referring
~als T, which to or denoting truth values than to think of them as referring to or
er, they must denoting situations. However, such a result need not necessarily be
regarded as a negative one if our theory delivers what it should (a
:1ce, this time theory of entailment, presupposition, etc.).
3d) have the Nonetheless, if sentences denote their truth values, then there
eplacing in it must be something more to sentence meaning than denotation, for
is cute" with we don't want to say that any two sentences with the same truth
'f"It snows." value have the same meaning. This is what led Frege to posit the
nee, because notion of sense. L~t us explore it briefly.
ly parallel to Frege proposes that sentences (and indeed, expressions of any
~13b)). category) have not only a reference (a standard translation of the
ence, as they German word Bedeutung) but also a sense (Frege's term was Sinn).
rrbitrary sen- The reference of an expression is what it stands for on a given
reference, or occasion of its use. Its sense, Frege says, is the way in which the
reference is presented. To .illustrate the distinction, Frege uses an
entences can example along the following lines. Suppose we are looking at the
ues (true and moon by means of a telescope. The moon corresponds to the refer-
le from truth ence. The sense corresponds to the moon's image as projected on
.arne time we the telescope's lens. The image on the retina corresponds not to the
.m. But then sense but to its mental representation. The sense (like the image
1m must be projected on the telescope's lens) is "objective." The retinal image
amely, their is subjective and may vary from perceiver to perceiver.
lid, then the More specifically, table 2.1 shows how Frege classified the sense
> put this in and reference of ex_pressions of the categories we have been con-
; in (lOa, b), sidering. The reference of an expression depends on its sense and
fairs, we are on what the circumstances are. For example, we can determine the
h things: the reference of the morning star by finding out what fits that descrip-
ms counter- tion, given what we understand of it and what the facts are.
According to this view, meaning is to be analyzed along two com-
thing wrong plementary dimensions. The meaning of an expression A lies in the
tlues of sen- relation that A has with its sense and its reference.
ogical struc- Similar ideas have several historical antecedents and have also
ed out more been elaborated by other researchers independently of Frege. For
sentences is example, Ferdinand de Saussure (1916) has a distinction between
Chapter 2 66

Table 2.1 Frege's classification of sense and reference


Category Referential NPs Individuals Individual concepts

Example the morning star Venus The concept of the star that
disappears last in the
Category VPs Classes of individuals Concepts
Example is Italian The Italians The concept of being Italian
Category Ss True or false Thoughts
Example "Pavarotti is Italian." True The thought that Pavarotti
Is Italian

signification and signifie that appears to be conceptually similar to

Frege's distinction between reference and sense.
It is worth reiterating that for Frege senses are not to be thought
of as mental or psychological entities. In particular, the sense of a
sentence, say, "Pavarotti is Italian," is not what we grasp in hearing
it, for the latter is intrinsically a subjective matter, and varies to a
degree from individual to individuaL Senses are what enable us to
communicate with each other, and as such they must be inter-
subjective (or objective). So the notion of a thought for Frege should
be construed as something like the information content that we
grasp in understanding a sentence. Henceforth we will follow the
common practice of using the term proposition for this purpose. A
proposition is the sense of a sentence.
Of course, it is conceivable to adopt Frege's distinction without
being radical Fregean objectivists about what sense are. For exam-
ple, one could hold the view that senses are a characterization of
the common structure that o'ur semantic representations must share
(given that communication is successful). But the question of the
nature of sensE)S has no easy answer. Luckily, as we will see, it is
possible to do semantics even in the absence of a complete under-
standing of this.
In later formal work stemming from the tradition originated by
Frege (see especially Carnap 1947), the sense/reference contrast is
understood in terms of intension versus extension. Carnap's notion
of the intension of an expression is intended as a more precise
Chapter 2 fro Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 67

rendering of what Frege called its sense; the extension is what

Frege called its reference (or denotation). Sometimes we use
Carnap's terminology, sometimes Frega's.
Frege put forth other arguments that point to the need for an
appeal to sense (or intension) in semantic considerations. Here are
tl concepts two. The first is concerned with identity statements. Consider
:ept of the star that (14) a. The morning star is the evening star.
rs last in the
b. The morning star is the morning star.
Both definite descriptions the morning star and the evening star
ept of being Italian happen to pick out the same entity, namely, Venus. So (14b) is
derived from (14a) by replacing coreferential expressions. If refer-
ght that Pavarotti ence is all there is to meaning, then (14a) and (14b) should have the
same information content. But they clearly do not. Sentence (14b)
is utterly uninformative: we know it a priori. Sentence (14a) is
informative: in fact, it was an astronomical discovery. Using the
.lly similar to
notion of sense, we can account for this contrast. Sentence (14b)
is uninformative because the two expressions being equated are
:o be thought identical, and thus both have the same sense and the same refer-
he sense of a
ence. The two expressions in (14a), on the other hand, have differ-
sp in hearing ent senses, and it is an empirical fact that they happen to pick out
td varies to a the same reference, whence the informativeness of (14a).
enable us to The second argument has to do with what Frege called "indirect"
ust be inter- and Quine "opaque" contexts:
Frega should
tent that we (15) Sophia Loren believes that Pavarotti is French.
11 follow the Sentence (15) attributes a certain belief to Loren. What Loren be-
s purpose. A lieves is somehow described by the sentence "Pavarotti is French."
Consequently, it must be systematically recoverable from the
tion without meaning of the latter. But clearly the actual truth value of "Pavar-
e. For exam- otti is French" does not determine what Loren may believe. Thus,
:terization of the notion of sense is needed to account for contexts such as
s must share these. Sentence (15) can be interpreted as saying that Loren bears
3stion of the the believe relation to the thought (or proposition) expressed by
viii see, it is "Pavarotti is French." Examples such as these could be multiplied
plete under- and elaborated upon in many ways.
At this point we should ask the following questions. Does ap-
riginated by pealing to the notion of sense really help us? Does it provide a base
e contrast is from which we can study meaning in natural language? Recall that
nap's notion what we want is a comp,ositional. theory of meaning that accounts
1ore precise for the properties discussed in chapter 1. In particular, such a theory
Chapter 2 63

should account for our intuitions concerning semantic relations. If 3

meaning is to be studied along two dimensions (the intensional and
the extensional), we need a way to determine compositionally both
the intension and the extension of an expression in terms of the
intension and extension of its parts. We also need to know pre-
cisely how intensions and extensions are related. Moreover, they
should provide an account of the various semantic relations, such
as entailment and presupposition. In the absence of all this, ap-
pealing to intensions will not help us much. To say that "Pavarotti
is French" has the thought (or proposition) that Pavarotti is French
as its sense links the notion to be explained (namely, that of mean-
ing) to the notion of a thought (or proposition), and this latter
notion is equally in need of an account. Furthermore, this move in
itself buys us nothing in terms of explaining the various semantic
relations. This is precisely the criticism that we have leveled
against accounting for sentence meaning in terms of the notion of a
situation or state of affairs. It seems, therefore, that we have reached
an impasse.
We started out by exploring the notion of reference or denotation
and giving some general reasons why such a. notion could play a
central role in semantics. However, we have met some difficulties
in extending such a notion beyond referential NPs; in particular,
we have had trouble with the notion of sentence reference. We first
saw some of the difficulties that arise from adopting the view that
sentences denote situations or states of affairs. In essence, we
argued that this claim is nearly vacuous if its connection to a theory
of semantic relations (such as entailment· and presupposition) is
not made clear. We have also argued that generalizations that seem
to be true of the notion of NP denotation lead to counterintuitive
results if we try to maintain that the semantic content of sentences
be analyzed in terms of situations or states of affairs. We then con-
sidered Frege's way out of these difficulties, which appeals to the
notion of a sense (or intension). Such a notion, however, also ap-
pears to be nearly vacuous if its connection to a theory of semantic
relations is not made clear.
We don't think, however, that these difficulties constitute an
insurmountable obstacle to constructing a semantics in which the
notion of denotation plays a central role. Nor do we b!'Jlieve that
they conclusively show that Frege's notion of sense has no use in
semantics. In fact, in chapter 5 we argue that it does. But we do
seem to need a different starting point.
Chapter 2 611 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 69

1tic relations. If
intensional and
)sitionally both
in terms of the 3.1 Nur im Zusammenhange eines Satzes bedeuten die Worter etwas
:l to know pre- One of the recurrent problems that we observed in section 2 has to
Moreover, they do with how to characterize sentence meaning. In particular, we
relations, such have tried to focus on the reasonably clear name-bearer relation
of all this, ap- and adopt it as paradigmatic for all key semantic notions. But what
that "Pavarotti sentences denote and how one gets to such a denotation remain
arotti is French outstanding problems. Perhaps before trying exactly to identify the
y, that of mean- denotation of words (or morphemes), we should try to make some
and this latter · · progress toward a viable characterization of the semantic content of
re, this move in • sentences.
:uious ·semantic In fact, it is not even clear that the notion of denotation can be
e have leveled understo.od independently of sentence meaning. This is arguably
f the notion of a true even of the best understood referring expressions, like proper
~e have reached . · names. Consider how we could go about explaining the "meaning"
of the name Pavarotti to someone who doesn't know it. Two obvi-
;e or denotation ous possibilities would be pointing at the famous singer andgiving
m could play a a description of him. We can of course combine these two possi-
orne difficulties bilities in various ways as the circumstances require. But even if we
s; in particular, ..· use a simple ostension, or deixis (pointing), what our act expresses
~erence. We first.· is something like a complete utterance with roughly the same
tg the view that meaning as "This person is Pavarotti." So it would seem that we
In essence, we are dealing with a propositional kind of knowledge. Moreover, for
~tion to a theory the pointing to make sense, we must already be able to distinguish
Jsupposition) is and classify people from other objects. In other words, as Quine
1tions that seem (1960) argued, the perceptual stimuli from which deixis can be
~ounterintuitive · drawn are insufficient to characterize the objects that constitute the
mt of sentences · · frame of reference for our language. We can refer to something and
s. We then con~ . individuate it within a given background only by using a conceptual
1 appeals to the · system. It follows that in grasping the meaning of a word, any word,
1wever, also ap~ · forthe first time, we cannot get at it directly (whatever that may
lory of semantic involve). We never deal with labels and objects in isolation. We are
typically confronted with complex states of affairs in which objects
's constitute an stand in relations to other objects. Indeed, one can say that we ar-
cs in which the. . rive at objects via a process of abstraction that enables us to identify
we b~lieve that them as, say, causal structures, regularities across states of affairs.
:e has no use in What this suggests is that to get started, we should pursue units
loes. But we do , . more complex than name.s (or words); Language, as an information
... c6de, provides an association between two systems: what signifies
Chapter 2 70

and what is signified. Sentences, as opposed to whole texts, appear

to be the smallest autonomous information units in a language
(with some qualification having to do with context dependency-
see below). Sentences comprise a category of well-formed struc-
tures capable of expressing thoughts that can stand on their own, of
describing whole situations. Thus, perhaps getting at sentence
meaning might be easier than getting at the meaning of other units.
What we mighttry to do is to define "S means p" precisely, where
S is a sentence. We might then be able to identify further crucial
semantic notions in terms of sentence meaning. This, in fact, is one
way of capitalizing on the famous (and controversial) dictum by
Frege that we use as title for this section: "Only in the context of a
sentence do words have meaning."
Before seeing how such a program might be pursued, we should
clear up some obvious problems. First, what are sentences? How do
we define them? For the time being, we will consider only ordinary
declarative sentences. We hope to be able to convince the reader
that the approach developed in connection with this kind of sen-
tence does extend to the other kinds. Second, it is a commonplace
observation that the content of (declarative) sentences can depend
on the situation, or context, in which they are uttered. Consider, for
(16) I am tired.
What (16) can convey is going to depend partly on who the speaker
is and when the sentence is uttered. And there are, of course, many
other more complex ways in which what a sentence means de-
pends on the context (ways having to do with intersentential ana-
phora, focus, presuppositions, etc.). Trying to address fully the
issue of context dependency at this stage would complicate our task
considerably. Therefore, we adopt a simplification known as the
"fixed-context assumption." We assume that the context of use
(who the speaker is, what the time of the utterance is, etc.) is a
known quantity. Consequently, so-called indexicals such a:s I in
(16) come to have a definite reference and behave just like other
referential expressions (such as proper names). This assumption
will the_n be abandoned when we specifically address the issue of
Within these restrictions a conspicuous property of declarative
sentences is that they can be true or false in a given situation or
circumstance. Consider, for example, (17), and assume that its
Chapter 2 70 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 71

e texts, appear context of utterance is known, say, September 10, 1986, in a class-
in a language room on the Cornell campus in Ithaca (as per the fixed-context
::lependency- assumption).
·formed struc- (17) The pope talked to Reagan between 3:00 and 4:00P.M. on
11 their own, of
September 9.
g at sentence
of other units. When is (17) true? Of course, even if the context is fixed, truth de-
ecisely, where pends on more: what the facts are. Sentence ( 17) is going to be true
further crucial if, in fact, the two relevant people were talking at the specified
, in fact, is one time. We may never know whether such an event actually took
.al) dictum by place. Perhaps neither of the protagonists has been seen at the des-
1e context of a ignated time. Perhaps they have been struck by amnesia concerning
the event described in (17). However, even though we may hick
ed, we should actual knowledge of facts, we know, for example, that a transatlan-
mces? How do tic phone . call could suffice for (17) to be true, but (17) would not be
only ordinary true if John Paul spent all the relevant time talking to Pavarotti. The
1ce the reader important thing to notice here is that though we might not know
.s kind of sen- what the facts are, we do know what they ought to be in order to
commonplace make the sentence true. This knowledge, we claim, is semantic
3S can depend
(and hence grammatical) in nature: it is constitutive of our knowl-
. Consider, for edge of what (17) means .
Conversely, someone who did not know what (17) means (for
example, a monolingual speaker of Russian) could not make use of
a specification of the facts to evaluate it. To judge whether (17) is
ho the speaker true, one needs not only knowledge ofthe facts; one also needs to
f course, many know what ( 17) means, to know something about the grammar of
lCe means de- the language. If we didn't know what (17) means, we would have
;entential ana- no clue as to what circumstances would mak~ (17) true.
.ress fully the Notice that we are not trying to provide effective criteria for
1licate our task checking the truth of sentences. We don't think that sem~ntics
known as the could or should aim so high. What we want to do is simpler. Are
:ontext of use there criteria to determine when it is appropriate to say that a sen-
e is, etc) is a tence is true? We think that there are. The examples illustrate them.
; such as· I in A declarative sentence like (17) describes a corner of reality, claims
just like other that a certain condition (John Paul's talking· to Reagan) obtains.
is assumption Saying "Sis true" amounts just to saying that the conditions that S
ss the issue of claims to obtain do obtain. Thus we have at least a criterion of
adequacy for the. predicate is true. It may seem a trivial one, but
of declarative consider that we don't have even that much for "S means p." The
·n situation or notion of truth, whatever_problems it may have, is a little bit clearer
sume that its than the notion of meaning.
Chapter 2 72

Tarski (1935, 1944) has. shown that we can draw further con-
sequences from having a clear criterion of application for the truth
predicate. To give a characterization of this predicate for a whole
language, we need to have a theory that, for any S in L and any v,
gives us the following:
(18) Sis true in v if and only if (iff) p.
Here S is a structural description of a sentence of a language L, vis
a situation or a specification of the relevant facts, and p describes
the conditions that have to obtain for S to be true in v (that is, the
truth conditions for S). The reader may be worried by the fact that
we are. still relying in (18) on the notion of a situation (or circum-
stance), which gives rise to problems. We will show later, however,
that the way we use this notion in giving a truth definition is quite
Sentences of the form (18) are called T-sentences. Now, if the
language contains only a finite number of sentences, then one
could simply list all the relevant T-sentences, and we could di-
rectly pair up all members of the syntactic category of sentences
with their truth conditions. But if the language contains an infinite
number of sentences, then a theory of truth must incorporate a
mechanism for generating all of the correspondingly infinite num-
ber ofT -sentences. Presumably, such a mechanism will have to be
based on the generative device that characterizes the syntax of the
language. In other words, a characterization of the truth predicate
for an infinite language must be compositional. As we shall see, to
obtain a compositional definition of truth for a sufficiently rich
language is not exactly trivial.
We should perhaps point out that we are not claiming that
meaning is completely exhausted by truth conditions. What we are
claiming is that if we ignore the conditions under which S is true,
we cannot claim to know the meaning of S. Thus, knowing the
truth conditions for S is at least necessary for knowing the meaning
of S. We cannot have the latter without the former. Suppose we did
not know whether sentence (19a) is true or false in the situation
represented in (19b).
(19) a. The door is closed.
Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 73

lraw further Could we be said to know what (19a) means? We think not. But
then truth conditions must surely be a necessary component of
sentence meaning: there is no meaning without truth conditions.
In fact, various philosophers have gone beyond this and argued
that knowing the meaning of Sis jast knowing its truth conditions. 5
If that is so, one could propose the following definition:
(20) S means p =df S is true in v if and only if (iff) p.
What we have on the left hand side is quite obscure: an intensional
.relation involving an entity whose nature is unknown (p, viewed as
the meaning of S). What we have on the right hand side is a lot
11ation (or clearer: a biconditional between two sentences of our semantic
:>w later, however; metalanguage, "S is true in v" and p (viewed as a sentence
definition is quite , describing when this holds). From the perspective of definition
(20), a theory of sentence meaning (for a language L) is just a formal
device that compositionally generates all the T -sentences for L.
Perhaps before discussing this claim any further, we should see
what such a formal device would actually look like. We do so by
·.providing a phrase-structure grammar for an elementary fragment
ofEnglish and developing a Tarski-style truth definition for it.
:mst incorporate' a
lngly infinite nuin-
sm will have to ... j~2 The fragment F1
tS the syntax of the. The syntax of F1 is specified in terms of a very simple set of phrase-
the truth predicate structure rules and hardly requires any comment. The semantics of
. F1 corresponds essentially to the semantics of the propositional
calculus. Its design, however, differs from what can be found in
mos~ introductory logic textbooks, as the emphasis here is on the
not claiming that ac~U:al linguistic applications of propositional logic. The simplest
itions. What we are sentences in F1 are made up of noun-verb (N-V) or N-V-N se-
Ler which S is true, . quences. We shall call such sentences atomic. Complex sentences
Thus, knowing are obtained by conjoining, disjoining, and negating other sen-
,owing the meaning .tences. Even though the grammar of F1 is so simple, it generates
.er. Suppose we di~ ·.·ail infinite number of sentences.
lse in the situation
.· 3.2;1 Syntax of F1 In specifying the syntax of F1 , we use more or less
ha,ditional grammatical categories (S for sentences, VP for verb
>P,hrases, Vt for transitive verbs, Vi for intransitive verbs, etc.). These
· categories are adopted purely for pedagogical purposes. Discussing
syp.tactic categories and phrase structures goes beyond the limits of
the present work. As far as we can tell, any of the major current
··.theories of syntactic categories (such as X' theory, or extended
Chapter 2 74

categorical grammars) can be adopted with the semantics that we

are going to develop.
The rules in (21) generate sentences like those in (22) and asso-
ciate with them structures like those in (23) for (22a).
(21) a. S---> N VP 6
b. S ---> S conj S
c. S---> neg S
d. VP---> VtN
e. VP---> Vi
f N ---> Pavarotti, Sophia Loren, James Bond
g. vi ---> is boring, is hungry, is cute
h. Vt ---> likes
i. conj ---> and, or
j. neg ---> it is not the case that
(22) a. Pavarotti is hungry, and it is not the case that James Bond
likes Pavarotti.
b. It is not the case that Pavarotti is hungry or Sophia Loren is
boring. ·
(Henceforth we simplify and freely use Loren and Bond for Sophia
Loren and James Bond, respectively).
(23) a.

s conj s

~ VP

vt N

is hungry and it is not the case that Bond likes Pavarotti
b. [s [s [N Pavarotti) [VP [vi is hungry)]] [conj and)
[s [neg it is not the case that) [s [N Bond) [vP [v1 likes]
[N Pavarotti]]))]
In (23a)the sy?tactic analysis of(22a) is displayed in the form of
a tree diagram (its phrase-structure marker, ,or P-marker for short).
Chapter 2 74 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 75

antics that we In (23b) the same information is represented in the form of a

labeled bracketing. These two representations are known to be
(22) and asso- equivalent. Roughly put, each (nonterminal) tree node in (23a)
corresponds to a subscripted label in (23b), and the brackets to
which the label is subscripted represent the branches stemming
from the corresponding node. We switch between these two nota-
tions as convenience requires. To enhance readability, we also fol-
low the common practice of occasionally representing syntactic
structures incompletely, that is, showing only that part directly
relevant to the point we are trying to make.

3.2.2 Semantics for F1 As F1 generates an infinite number of sen-

tences, we can specify the truth condition associated with each
sentence only compositionally, by looking at the way it is built up
in terms of smaller units. We have to look at the semantic value of
tt James Bond such smaller units and provide an algorithm for combining them. If
p is a well-formed expression of F1 , we shall write [py for its
;ophia Loren is semantic value in circumstance v. For example, we will write
[Pavarotti] v for the semantic value of the expression Pavarotti in
circumstance v. What should [PavarottiY be? In F1 , just as in En-
and for Sophia-
glish, we will let the semantic value of Pavarotti in any circum-
stance v be the celebrated tenor in flesh and blood.
Our goal is to provide a fully explicit, that is, fully formalized,
specification of truth conditions for sentences in F1 • We will have
done this if we assign semantic values in each circumstance to all
lexical entries and give combinatorial rules that together with those
lexical values permit us to assign to each sentence S the truth value
of S in circumstance v. Thus, [SY will be the truth value of S in v.
---s We do not have to worry about what truth values are, so long as we

provide for distinguishing two of them. It is handy to use 1 for what
true sentences denote and 0 for what false sentences denote, but
·these choices have no special significance. Thus [ S] v = 1 is just

shorthand for "S is true in v" or less naturally but equivalently "S
denotes 1 in v." Although it may look somewhat unfamiliar and
frightening at first, the mathematical notation is ultimately an
likes Pavarotti
I enormous convenience. To achieve formal explicitness without
using it would require much lengthier specifications and quite tor-
:l] tured prose, which would prove harder to understand in the long
[v1 likes] run. The combinatorial semantic rules and the semantic values for
lexical expressions will have to be chosen so that for any sentence
d in the form of S and circumstance v, whether [SY is 1 or 0 depends only on
arker for short). · the values in v of the lexical expressions occurring in S and the
Chapter 2 76

semantic rules applied in interpreting S. What we present is just

one of several equivalent ways of carrying out this program.
A further preliminary point that should be noted is that some
terminal strings generated by the syntax of F1 are ambiguous. For
example, (22b) is associated with two distinct ·trees (or labeled
bracketings), namely,
(24) a. [s neg [s Pavarotti is hungry or Loren is boring]]
b. [s [s neg [s Pavarotti is hungry]] or Loren is boring]
These syntactic ambiguities correspond to semantic ones. (24a)
negates a certain disjunction, namely, that Pavarotti is hungry or
Loren is boring. Thus, (24a) is a way of saying that Pavarotti is not
hungry and Loren is not boring. But (24b) says that either Pavarotti
isn't hungry or Loren is boring. It follows, therefore, that if we want
to assign a unique semantic value to each sentence in any given
situation, we should interpret not terminal strings but trees (or
labeled bracketings). Thus, for any well-formed tree or labeled
bracketing~, [~r will be its semantic value in v. How can such a
semantic value be determined in general? Well, we first have to
assign a lexical value to every terminal node. Terminal nodes (or
lexical entries) are finite and can thus be listed. Then we look at the
syntactic rules of F1 • Each rewrite rule, say of the form A---+ BC,
admits as well-formed a tree of the form


(or equivalently a labeled bracketing ofthe form [ABC]). We have

to specify the value of the tree whose root is A in terms of the
values of the subtrees rooted· in B and C. This means that the se-
mantic value for the terminal string dominated by A is determined
in terms of the values of the substrings dominated by B and C and
the way these substrings are put together. If we do this for every
syntactic rule in the grammar, we can interpret any tree admitted
by it. A definition of this kind (with a finite number of base clauses
and a finite number of clauses that build on the base clauses) is
called recursive.
We start off by assigning values to each. basic lexical entry. Our
Ns are all proper names, and we let them denote individuals. It is
less obvious what Vis, intransitive verbs; and Vts, transitive verbs,
should denote. Intransitive verbs, or one-place predicates, can be
Chapter 2 76 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 77

esent is just used to say something about an individual. It is plausible, there-

~ram. fore, to associate an intransitive verb with a set of individuals in a
s that some circumstance; intuitively, this set includes those individuals of
Jiguous. For whom the verb can be truly predicated in the given circumstance.
(or labeled For example, [is boringy will bfil the set of individuals that are
boring in v. Transitive verbs can be used to say that one individual
stands in some relation to a second individual. We can associate
these expressions (two-place predicates) in a circumstance with a
set whose members are ordered pairs of individuals. Intuitively, an
ones. (24a) ordered pair is in this set in given circumstances iff the first mem-
:s hungry or ber of the pair stands in the relation designated by the verb to the
rarotti is not second member in those circumstances. For example, the love re-
1er Pavarotti lation can be thought of as the set of pairs (x, y) such that x loves y.
1t if we want We first specify the values for the members of N, Vi, and Vt. We
n any given assume familiarity with the concepts and notation of elementary set
mt trees (or theory; symbols and brief explanations appear in the appendix, but
3 or labeled readers who want a fuller discussion should consult an elementary
v can such a book on set theory (for example, Halmos (1960) or Stoll (1963)).
first have to
(25) For any situation (or circumstance) v,
.al nodes (or
re look at the
Q' [PavarottiY = Pavarotti
, ~-~)'I\ [Loren]v =Loren
'rm A--) BC, 1
[Bond] v = Bond
[is boring]v =the set of those individuals that are boring in v
(in symbols, {x: xis boring in v})
[is hungry]v = {x: xis hungry in v}
[is cuteY = {x: xis cute in v}
[likes] v = the set of ordered pairs of individuals such that
S']). We have the first likes the second in v (in symbols, { (x, y) : x likes y
terms of the in v})
: that the se-
As the semantics for F1 must be given in a (meta)language, we
; determined
choose English, enriched with some mathematics (set theory) ..
Band C and
Within this metalanguage we first stipulate that proper names are
his for every
associated with the respective individuals named by them. This
ree admitted
association does not depend on circumstances in the way in which
base clauses
the extension of a predicate like is hungry does. Thus, we assume
e clauses) is
for now that the reference of proper names is fixed once and for all
in a given language. The reader should not be misled by the fact
al entry. Our
that in ordinary natural languages there are many proper name
.viduals. It is
forms that denote more than one individual; ·for example, the
1sitive verbs,
form Jim Smith names many different men. This is a kind of lexical
:::ates, can be
Chapter 2 78

ambiguity where the language contains a number of distinct proper

names that happen to have the same form; the distinct proper
names are pronounced and spelled the same. To keep matters sim-
ple, proper names in our fragment are not ambiguous; each form
denotes only one individual. The extension of a predicate, on the
other hand, can vary across circumstances. Such an extension in
different situations is determined by the predicate itself. The theory
thus exploits our competence as English speakers. There is nothing
circular about this, as throughout (25) on the left hand side of"="
we mention or quote the relevant words, and on the right hand side
we use them. The appearance of circularity would vanish if we
used English to give the semantics for a different object language,
say Italian.
Let us now turn to a consideration of the logical words and, or,
and it is not the case that. To understand how negation works, we
have to look at the truth conditions of sentences that contain neg-
ations. Intuitively, a sentence like "It is not the case that S" will be
true exactly when Sis false. We can represent this by means of the
following table:
(26) [SY [neg sy
(\~~'~ 1 0
\' ( / 0 1
' ;\()0 1 /

~\\\1\5 \ /A conjunction of the form "S and S'" is true just in case both S and
S' are true:
(27) [S]v [S']v [Sand S'Y
1 1 1
1 0 0
0 1 0
0 0 0

In ordinary English discourse, conjunctions sometimes imply more

than the truth of both conjuncts; for example, "Bond jumped into
the waiting car, and he (Bond] chased the gangsters" suggests that
Bond's chasing the gangsters followed his jumping into the car. But
a speaker could go on and say "but not in that order" without con-
tradiction and thus such a suggestion is not part of what and itself
contribute's to truth conditions. We discuss pragmatic explanations
of such further implications in chapter 4.
For disjunction we seem to have an option. In natural language,
or sometimes seems to be interpreted exclusively (as in "Gianni
Chapter 2 78 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 79

istinct proper was born in Rome, or he was born in Florence," where both dis-
.stinct proper 'juncts cannot be true) or inclusively (as in "Maria is very smart, or
> matters sim- she is very hardworking," which will be true even if Maria is both
1s; each form very smart and very hardworking). We might hypothesize that or is
iicate, on the ambiguous between an exclusive. and an inclusive interpretation.
extension in Note, however, that the inclusive or is more general than the ex-
lf. The theory clusive one. For any situation v, if either one of p and q is true, "p
ere is nothing orexc q" and "p orinc q'; will both be true in v. If, however, p and q
d side of "=" are both true, then "p orexc q" will be false, while "p orinc q" will be
ght hand side true. The state of affairs that we have can be illustrated by the fol-
vanish if we lowing diagram of situations:
iect language, (28)

rords and, or,

on works, we
. contain neg- S" will be
means of the

Whenever such a circumstance arises, we can try the strategy of

assigning the more general interpretation to the relevant construc-
tion as its semantic value. The narrower interpretation would not
thereby be excluded and could then arise as the intended one by
se both Sand extrasemantic (pragmatic) means. For the time being, we will fol-
low this strategy without further justification but will try to justify
it more when we specifically discuss various pragmatic theories.
We therefore adopt the following semantics for or:
(29) [S]v [S']v [S or S']v
1 1 1
1 0 1
0 1 1
simply more
jumped into
suggests that
""' 0 0 0

Some of our readers will recognize (26), (27), and (29) as the truth
o the car. Bul tables familiar from elementary logic. We could use these truth
without con- tables directly to provide the truth conditions for complex sen-
hat and itself tences without assigning a semantic value for and, or, etc. However,
explanations it is quite easy to construct an abstract semantic value for each con-
nective that will achieve exactly the same results as the truth tables
tral language, in specifying truth values for sentences in which the connectives
.s in "Gianni occur. We can view the· connectives as functions that map truth
Chapter 2 80

values (or ordered pairs of truth values in the case of conjunction

and disjunction) onto truth values.
A function is simply a systematic connection between specified
inputs and outputs such that for any given input there is a unique
corresponding output (see appendix for further discussion). We can
represent a function by indicating what output is associated with
each input. This is what we have done in (30) using the arrow
(30) For a:riy situation v,
[it is not the case that Y = [ 1 ----+ 0 J
[andY= r<1, 1)----+ 11 .
(1, 0)----+ 0
(0, 1)----+ 0

[orY = r~~:~~: ~1
(0, 0)----+ 0

We have chosen to regard the truth tables from elementary logic as

(truth) functions. We have then assigned these abstract objects as
the semantic values of logical words. This enables us to talk about
the meaning of conjunction: a function that maps truth values into
truth values. Notice that the value of logical words is in an inter-
esting way language-independent. Of course, the conjunction
operation expressed by English and will be expressed by other
forms in other languages. Nonetheless, languages generally appear
to provide constructions whose meanings correspond to the func-
tions we have associated with and, or, and it is not the case that.
Such meanings are thus strong candidates for semantic universals.
i, We have assigned a semantic value to the basic entries. At this
point we need to provide an interpretive rule corresponding to each
syntactic rule. This will guarantee the interpretability of any tree
that is admitted by such rules (and consequently of any terminal
string generated by the language).
In what follows, we use category symbols for the trees they
dominate. Thus, for example, we use A to indicate the tree domi-
nated lJy A. And we use· [A B C] to indicate a tree dominated by A,
whose immediate constituents are Band C. Thus, [[A B CJY stands
for the value of a tree whose root is A such that B and C are A's
Chapter 2 80 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 81

)f conjunction daughters. Furthermore, if g is a function and u a possible argument

for g, g(u) will indicate the result of applying g to u. The symb~l E
veen specified indicates set membership and is to be read "is an element of" or
're is a unique "belongs to." We follow standard practice in abbreviating if and
3sion). We can only if as iff The letters of the f011mulas in (31) indicate the corre-
;sociated with spondence with the syntactic rules in (21).
ing the arrow (31) a. [[s. N VPJY = 1 iff [NY E [VP]v and 0 otherwise
b. [[s sl conj SzJY = [conj]v( ([SlY,[SzY>)
c. [[s neg SJY = [negY([SY)
d. [[VP v, NJY = {x: (x, [NY> E [v,y}
e-j. If A is a category and a is a lexical entry or a lexical
category and~= [A a], then [~]v = [a]v

3.2.3 Some illustrations To see how this works, let us interpret the
sentence given in (22a). To facilitate this task, let us index every
node in the relevant tree:
1 s
mtary logic as
·act objects as
2 s 3 conj 4S

; to talk about
th values into 8

is in an inter-
;sed by other 5N 6 VP 10 N 11 VP
terally appear
:l to the func- I A
12 V, 13 N
the case that.
ic universals.
1tries. At this Pavarotti is hungry
and it is not the case that Bond likes Pavarotti
nding to each Our interpretive procedure works bottom up. Here is a step by step
ty of any tree derivation of the truth conditions associated with (22a):
any terminal
(33) [5]v = Pavarotti, by (31e)
1e trees they [9]v = {x: xis hungry in v}, by (31e)
he tree domi- [6]v = {x: xis hungry in v}, by (31e)
ninated by A, [2]v = 1 iffPavarotti E {x: xis v}, by (31a)
B C)] v stands [13Y = Pavarotti, by (31e)
md C are A's [1zr = { (x, y): x likes yin v}, by (31e)
Chapter 2 82

[11Y {x: (x, [13]v) E [12]v}

= {x: (x, Pavarotti) E { (x, y): x likes yin v}
= {x: x likes Pavarotti in v}, by (31d)
[1oy =Bond, by (16e)
[BY= 1 iff BondE {x: x likes Pavarotti in v}, by (31a) Exercise 2
[7Y = [1----; OJ, by (31e) and (30)
[4Y = [1----; OJ ([BY), by (31c)
[3Y = [(1, 1)----; 1], by (31e) and (30)
(1, 0)----; 0
(0, 1)----; 0
(0,0)----; 0
[1r = [<1, 1>----; 1] ( <[zr, [4r>), by (31b)
(1, 0)----; 0
(0, 1)----; 0
(0, 0)----; 0
Now suppose we are in a situation where Pavarotti is indeed
hungry and Bond does not like him. Call such a situation v'. We
thus have that Bond rj: {x: x likes Pavarotti in v'}. Therefore,
[B]v' = 0, by (31a). So [4Y' = 1, by (31c). Furthermore, Pavarotti E
{x: x is hungry in v'}. Therefore, [zy' = 1, by (31a). Thus,.
[l]v' = 1, since [andY'((l, 1)) = 1, by (30).
Suppose instead that we have a different situation, call it v 11,
where Pavarotti is hungry and Bond does like him. Then it is ea~y
to see that by performing the relevant computations, we get that
[4Y" = 0 and thus that [1Y" = 0. . .
This simple example shows how a Tarski-style truth definiti~n
provides a procedure that can associate the right truth conditiolls
with the infinitely many sentences of F1 with only a finite uutLou.u•c
ery. The truth conditions for a sentence S determine how,
particular facts, one can determine whether S is true or false as
function of the simpler expressions occurring in it. This is just
the procedure exemplified above does. For example, we have ..
how sentence (22a) comes out with different truth values ill
two different situations we have described. To illustrate
consider (22b) on the analysis given in (24a) and let v"' be a.
ation where Pavarotti is not hungry and Loren is boring. ·.
. vm·
is, let us assume that we have [Pavarotti is hungry] = 0
[Loren is boringy/11 = 1. Then, [[s Pavarotti :l.s hungry or
is boring]y'"=l, since [orY ((0,1))=1, by (30). And
Chapter 2 82 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 83

quently, [(24a)y'" = 0, since [noty'" (1) = 0. Thus, sentence (22b)

yin v} on the analysis in (24a) is false in v 111 according to our procedure.

~'by (31a) Exercise 2 Compute the truth value of sentence (22b) on the analyses in (24a)
and (24b), repeated below, in the following three situations.
(22) b. It is not the case that Pavarotti is hungry or Loren is boring.
( 24) a. [ s neg [ s Pavarotti is hungry or Loren is boring]] '•J' ••
b. [ s[ s neg [ s Pavarotti is hungry]] or Loren is boring] : ' ,..
. )·
Situation 1. Pavarotti is hungry; Loren is boring.
Situation 2. Pavarotti is not hungry; Loren is not boring.
Situation 3. Pavarotti is hungry; Loren is not boring.

One of our basic semantic capacities is that of matching sen-

tences with situations. For example, we can intuitively see, perhaps
after a bit of reflection, that sentence (22b) on anq.lysis (24a) is in-
varotti is indeed
deed false in a situation where Pavarotti is hungry, which corre-
situation v'. We
sponds to the results of our interpretive procedure. This shows how
1 v'}. Therefore,
our procedure can be regarded as an abstract representation of our
more, Pavarotti E
capacity of pairing sentences with the situations that they describe
by (31a). Thus,
and also how the theory makes empirically testable claims (since
the pairing of sentences with the truth conditions generated by the
tation, call it v",
theory can clash or agree with our intuitions).
n. Then it is easy
ions, we get that In fact, one way of understanding the notion of sentence content
that we are characterizing is the following. Sentence content can
3 truth definition be regarded as a relation between sentences and situations, or cir-
cumstances. Our notation [SY = 1 (or 0) can be interpreted as say-
truth conditions
ing that S correctly characterizes or describes (or does not correctly
fa finite machin-
describe) situation v. The meaning of sentences of a language Lis
mine how, given
adequately characterized by such a relation if the speakers of L be-
true or false as a
have as if they knew the value of [S] v as a function of the values
. This is just what
assigned in v to the lexical items in S for any situation or set of
>le, we have seen
circumstances v and any sentence S. To borrow a metaphor from
tth values in the
cognitive psychology, imported into the semantic literature by
illustrate further,
Barwise and Perry (1983), speakers of L are "at.tuned" to a certain
let v"' be a situ-
relation between sentences and circumstances. This is one way of
. is boring. That
mgry rill= 0 and
understanding what our theory is doing.
There is a further crucial thing that our theory can do: it can
hungry or Loren
provide us with a formal definition of entailment. Here it is:
30). And conse-
Chapter 2 84

(34) S entails S' (relative to analyses ~sand ~S', respectively) iff

for every situation v, if [~sr = 1, then [~s~r = 1.
This is just a first approximation. Ultimately, we will want to re-
gard entailment as a relation between utterances (that is, sentences
in context), where the context crucially fills in certain aspects of
meanirig. Here the only feature of context that we are considering is
that it must specify a syntactic analysis for ambiguous terminal
strings (by means of prosodic clues, for example). In what follows,
we sometimes talk of entailment as a relation between sentences,
even if phrase markers (and ultimately utterances) are meant.
It should be clear that (34) is simply a way of saying that S entails
S' iff whenever S is true, S' also is; that is, it is a way of formally
spelling out our intuitive notion of entailment. This definition en-
ables us to actually prove whether a certain sentence entails an-
other one. Let us illustrate. Let us prove. that sentence (22b) on
analysis ( 24a) entails
(35) [s[s. it is not the case that Pavarotti is hungry] and [sit is not
the case that Loren is boring]]
To show this, we assume that (22b) is true on analysis (24a) and
show, using our semantic rules, that (35) must also be true. The
outermost connective in (24a) is negation. The semantics for nega-
tion, (31c), tells us that for any v if [(24a)]v = 1, as by our hypoth-
esis, then [Pavarotti is hungry or Loren is boring] v = 0. But the
semantics for or, (30), together with (31b), tells us that a disjunctive
sentence is false iff each disjunct is false. Thus we have that
[Pavarotti is hungry r = 0 and [Loren is boringy = 0. Now if this
is so, again by the semantics of negation we have that [it is not the
case that Pavarotti is hungry] v = 1 and [it is not the case that Loren
is boringr = 1. But ( 35) is just the conjunction of the latter
two sentences, and the semantics for conjunction thus yields
[(35)r = 1.
Let us show that (36a) does not entail (36b).
(36) a. [[it is not the case that Pavaiotti is hungry] or [Loren is
b. [[Pavarotti is hungry] or [it is not the case that Loren is
To show this we construct a situation, call it .v', such that (36aps
true in v' while (36b) is false'in it. Now, since we want it to be the
case tpat [(36b)Y' = 0, by the semantics for disjunction we must
Chapter 2 84 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 85

ectively) iff have [Pavarotti is hungry] v' = 0 and [it is not the case that Loren is
l. boringy' = 0. By the semantics for negation this means that [Loren
is boring] v' = 1. Thus, v' is a situation where "Pavarotti is hungry"
.l want to re-
is false and "Loren is boring" is true. It is easy to see that in such a
is, sentences
situation (36a) will be true. This follows immediately from the
in aspects of
semantics for disjunction and the fact that "Loren is boring" (one of
onsidering is
the disjuncts) is true in v'. We have thus constructed a situation
ous terminal
where (36a) is true and (36b) is false, and hence the former does not
what follows,
entail the latter.
m sentences,
that S entails
y of formally
Exercise 3 @ Prove that "Pavarotti is hungry and Loren is boring" entails
"Loren is boring."
lefinition en-
e entails an-
(i) Prove that (35) entails (24a).

ace (22b) on
@ Prove that (36b) does not entail (36a).

l [ s it is not We can also define a number of other semantic notions closely

related to entailment, such as logical equivalence (what we also
called "content synonymy"), contradiction, and logical truth
;is (24a) and
be true. The
tics for nega- (37) Sis logically equivalent to S' (relative to analyses Lls and
our hypoth- Lls') iff S entails S' (relative to ils and .1.8') and S' entails S
= 0. But the (relative toLls and Lls')·
a disjunctive (38) Sis contradicto.zy(relative to analysis As) iff there is no
re have that
situation v, such that [~sY = 1.
. Now if this
[it is not the ( 39) S is logically true (or valid) relative to analysis ils iff there is
se that Loren no situation where [ilsY = 0.
)f the latter To illustrate, let us show that the following is contradictory:
thus yields
(40) Pavarotti is boring, and it is not the case that Pavarotti is
Assume that there exists a v such that [(40)]v = 1. By the semantics
Loren is
for conjunction we have [Pavarotti is boringy = 1 and [it is not the
case that Pavarotti is boringy = 1. But the semantics for negation
Loren is
yields the result that the same sentence is assigned two distinct
truth values, which is a contradiction.
that ( 36a) is The preceding proof can be straightforwardly modified so as to
tit to be the show that the negation of (40) ("It is not the case that [Pavarotti is
.on we must boring and Pavarotti isn't boring]") is valid .
Chapter 2 86

All these notions can be extended to relations involving not

simply sentences but sets of sentences:
(41) A set of sentences Q = {S 1 , ... , Sn} entails a sentenceS
(relative to analyses As,, ... , As" and As, respectively) iff
whenever in any situation v we have for all S' E .n, [As'r = 1,
we also have that [Asr = 1. (That is, any situation vthat
makes all of the sentences in Q true also has to make S true.)
(42) A set of sentences Q is contradictory (relative to analyses
As,' ... ' Asn) iff there is no situation v such that for all sEn,
[Asr = 1.

Exercise 4 @ Show that sentences (1) and (2) jointly entail (3).
(1) [[it is not the case that Pavarotti is hungry] or Loren is boring]
(2) Loren is notboring.
(3) Pavarotti is not hungry.
Show that (4) and (5) are contradictory.
(4) [[it is not the case that Bond is cute] and Pavarotti is boring]
(5) Bond is cute.
C. Let "v" be the standard inclusive or and "+" the exclusive
one. (And is expressed with "1\ .")If or in natural language is am-
biguous, a sentence like (6a), expressed more idiomatically in (6b),
would be ambiguous four ways; it would have the four readings
given in (7).
(6) a. John smokes or drinks, or John smokes and drinks.
b: John smokes or drinks or both.
(7) a. [smoke(j) v drink(j)] v [smoke(j) 1\ drink(j)]
b. [smoke(j) + drink(j)] v [smoke(j) 1\ drink(j)]
c. [smoke(j) + drink(j)] + [smoke(j) 1\ drink(j)]
d. [smoke(j) v drink(j)] + [smoke(j) 1\ drink(j)]
Consider now (8a) and (Bb).
(8) a. [smoke(j) v drink(j)]
b. [smoke(j) + drink(j)]
Prove that (7a-c) are all equivalent to (Ba) and that (7d)is equiva-
lent to (Bb). What does this result show about the hypothesis that
or is ambiguous between an inc~usive and an exclusive reading?
Chapter 2 85 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 87

volving not (From A. C. Browne, "Univocal 'Or'-Again," Linguistic Inquiry

17 (1986): 751-754.)

1Ce S
ely) iff We have shown that a theory of truth conditions enables us to
:, [As'r = 1, come up with a precise characterization of several key semantic
n vthat notions. Furthermore, such a theory enables us to derive as theo-
ake S true.) rems claims about semantic relationships (claims about what en-
malyses tails what, for example). To the extent that what the theory predicts
rallS E Q, (or yields as theorems) actually matches our intuitions, we have
confirming evidence for it. If, for example, it turned out that our
theory didn't allow us to show that "Pavarotti is hungry and Loren
is boring" entails "Pavarotti is hungry," the theory would be inad-
equate, as our intuitions clearly tell us that the .former sentence
does entail the latter. Thus, a truth-conditional theory appears to be
m is boring] a promising candidate as an approximation to a full-fledged theory
of meaning.

3.2.4 An alternative method for interpreting F1 What we have done in

specifying the semantics for F1 is to provide, for each syntactic rule
listed in (21), a corresponding semantic rule listed in (31). These-
lis boring]
mantics is defined recursively off the syntax. This is the standard
approach in treatments of formal languages and is the one adopted
the exclusive ·by Montague (1973) in his ground-breaking formal semantic treat-
nguage is am" . ment of (a fragment of) English. This rule-to-rule method of
tically in (6b), semantic interpretation offers interpretive procedures that are· spe-
cific to particular constructions.
Howev~r, if we look at our semantic rules, we see that there is a
lot of redundancy. The principle of interpretation for terminal
inks. nodes or lexical entries, the "base" for the recursion, is the same for
all basic expressions: the value they get is that assigned directly in
· situation v. And for phrasal nodes that do not branch, the intEnpre-
tation of the daughter is just passed up to the mother. Thus in a
· • . structure like (43), the value of run is passeq up all the way to the
. VP.


Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 87

(From A. C. Browne, "Univocal 'Or'-Again," Linguistic Inquiry

17 (1986): 751-754.)

:nee S
rely) iff
We have shown that a theory of truth conditions enables us to
l, [LlS']v = 1,
come up with a precise characterization of several key semantic
m vthat
notions. Furthermore, such a theory enables us to derive as theo-
1ake S true.) rems claims about semantic relationships (claims about what en-
an~lyses tails what, for example). To the extent that what the theory predicts
)rallS E Q, .·· (or yields as theorems) actually matches our intuitions, we have
confirming evidence for it. If, for example, it turned out that our
theory didn't allow us to show that "Pavarotti is hungry and Loren
is boring" entails "Pavarotti is hungry," the theory would be inad-
equate, as our intuitions clearly tell us that the former sentence
does entail the latter. Thus, a truth-conditional theory appears to be
·en is boring]
a promising candidate as an approximation to a full-fledged theory
of meaning.

3.U An alternative method for interpreting F1 What we have done in

specifying the semantics for F1 is to provide, for each syntactic rule
ti is boring] listed in (21), a corresponding semantic rule listed in (31). The se-
mantics is defined recursively off the syntax. This is the standard
approach in treatments of formal languages and is the one adopted
by Montague (1973) in his ground-breaking formal semantic treat-
ment of (a fragment of) English. This rule-to-rule method of
semantic interpretation offers interpretive procedures that are spe-
cific to particular constructions.
However, if we look at our semantic rules, we see that there is a
lot of redundancy. The principle of interpretation for terminal
nodes or lexical entries, the "base" for the recursion, is the same for
all basic expressions: the value they get is that assigned directly in
1] situation v. And for phrasal nodes that do not branch, the interpre-
)] tation of the daughter is just passed up to the mother. Thus in a
)] struc.ture like (43), the value of runis passeq up all the way to the
)] VP,

(43) VP

at ( 7 d)is equiva~
J hypothesis that I
:elusive reading?
Chapter 2 88

Things look a bit more complicated when we turn to the inter-

pretations associated with nodes that branch. For example, subject-
predicate configurations are interpreted as designating 1 or 0 on the
basis of whether or not the individual designated by the subject
belongs to the set designated by the VP. A VP that consists of a verb
and object will designate a set of individuals; the transitive verb
itself designates a binary relation, a set of ordered pairs of in-
dividuals, and the VP denotation consists of just those individuals
that stand in that relation to the individual designated by the object
NP. We haven't introduced ditransitive verbs yet. They would,
however, be interpreted as three-place relations (i.e., sets of
ordered triples). The interpretation assigned to a VP like "give War
and Peace to Mary" would be a set of individuals (those who give
War and Peace to Mary) and thus would combine semantically
with a subject in exactly the same way as the interpretation as-
signed to a VP with a transitive verb, e.g., "like Mary." (In Exercise
8 at the end of this chapter the reader is asked to provide a rule for
interpreting VPs containing ditransitive verbs that is parallel to
(31d), the rule for interpreting VPs containing transitive verbs.)
Finally, conjunctions and negations are both interpreted by means
of functions, but in the case of conjunction the function has two
arguments, whereas in the case of negation it has only one.
Klein and Sag (1985) pointed out that rule-to-rule interpretive
procedures in principle do not place any constraints on possible
semantic rules, which suggests that whenever a new syntactic con"
figuration is encountered, the language learner must simply learn
the appropriate semantic procedure for its interpretation. But as a ·
matter of fact, we see that the semantic rules actually found appear
to be of a highly restricted sort. So, they argued, it may be possibl~
to set up a semantic theory with only a very limited set of inter-·
pretive procedures that need minimal syntactic information to .
work. If this program turns out to be feasible, we would have in
semantics a situation parallel to that of syntax, where a wide range
of constructions across different languages can be analyzed ·•· ·
terms of a small set of rules and principles. This is made all .
more plausible by the observation that when the semantic value~
sentences and lexical entries are set, then how one gets from·.·.
latter to the former is also virtually determined (modulo a
variants). Thus, as Klein and Sag pointed out, combinatorial
cesses can be constrained to depend only on the types of .·· ..
assigned to the combining nodes if those types-the kinds; ..
Chapter 2 88 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 89

n to the inter- Table 2.2 Initial type assignments for F1

mple, subject-
g 1 or 0 on the
JY the subject
1sists of a verb
ransitive verb s Truth values (0, 1)
::l. pairs of in- N Individuals
se individuals ·· Sets of individuals
V~o VP
l by the object Vt Sets of ordered pairs of individuals
They would, . conj Function from two truth values to one truth value
(i.e., sets of· neg Function from one truth value to one truth value
:ike "give War ·.
1ose who give
~ semantically ·
semantic values assigned to various sorts of nodes-are chosen
1rpretation as~ carefully. Semantic interpretation will then be, as they put it,
," (In Exercise type-driven, rather than construction-specific.
vide a rule for Table 2.2 lists the semantic types we have currently specified for
is parallel to the various categories in Ft. The semantic type for a category is the
1sitive verbs.). kind of thing that the interpretation function [ ] v assigns to ex-
Jted by means ·•· pressions in that category. The two basic types we have identified
ction has two are individuals and truth values. Each ofthem in some sense stands
y one. on its own: they have no internal structure. The other types we list
above are various set-theoretic constructions out of elements of one
or both of these two basic types. In particular, we have sets of in-
dividuals, sets of ordered pairs, and functions (from truth values
and pairs thereof into truth values).
ttion. But as a Now functions in general take input arguments from some
found appear specified domain and yield an output value. In the case of a func-
IY be possible tion fwith a single argument x, applying fto x yields the value of
::l. set of inter- the function for that argument, namely f(x). This mode of com-
bining two, values is called functional application, and we have
already made use of it to interpret negated sentences. The principle
1 a wide range itself does not depend on having any particular kind of function or
analyzed in· . argument: it could work to interpret any syntactic structure with
made all the two branches (which is what most of ours have) if one branch is
mtic values of . interpreted as a function and the other branch is interpreted as a
gets from the . possible argument of the function. It turns out that we can indeed
1odulo a few revise our interpretive principles so that functional application is
'inatorial pro~ the only combinatory semantic principle we need for F1.
pes of values Let's start by seeing how we can think of the interpretation of
·the kinds of . an intransitive verb as a function. The best way to see it is via an
Chapter 2 90

example. Consider a particular situation v in which the meaning of

is boring is as follows:
(44) [is boringy = {x: xis boring in v} ={Bond, Pavarotti}
Suppose now that the domain of discourse U, i.e., the individuals
we talk about in v, is restricted to Bond, Pavarotti, and Loren. In
such a situati.on, the meaning of is boring can be construed as a
function f that applied to an individual u yields true just in case u
is boring and otherwise yields false:
(45) [is boring]v = the function f from individual entities to truth
values such that f(x) = 1 if x E {x: xis boring in v} and= 0
If Bond and Loren are the members of this set in v, then

Bond ~ 1

Pavarotti ~ 0

Loren ~ 1

Notice that we started from our original set of individuals and used
it to define this function. We could have done exactly the same
thing had we started with any other set of individuals. Any func-
tion that assigns one of two distinct values to the members of a
domain is called a characteristic function, and given the output
values (for convenience we use 0 and 1), each subset of the domain
defines such a function uniquely and any such function corre-
sponds to a unique subset of the domain. (See the appendix, p. 538.)
Thus we can move back and forth between sets and the character-
istic functions of those sets. In particular, we can model the mean-
ing of intransitive verbs as characteristic functions over the domain
of individuals; where we assigned a set of individuals as the deno-
tation of a particular verb before, we will now assign the charac-
teristic function of that set. Clearly, the functional perspective on
intransitive verb denotations is simply a different way of looking at
the same facts we considered before. But now we can interpret the
combination of an intransitive verb and its subject by functional
application and get exactly the same results we got before.
It is useful to have a way to represent the general type of func-
tions from individual entities to truth values. Let e (for "entity") be
the type of individuals and t the type of truth values; then (e, t)
will represent the type of functi~ns from individuals (things of
type e) into truth values (things of type t).
Chapter 2 90 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 91

rreaning of
Exercise 5 Provide the appropriate functional values for is hungry and is cute.

The next challenge we turn to is how to interpret transitive verbs
so that a VP consisting of a verb anc;l its object will also designate a
. Loren. In
function of type (e, t). In our initial formulation of denotations of
trued as a
transitive verbs, we have, for example, the following:
tin case u
(46) [likesY = { (x,y): x likes yin v}.

es to truth If we imagine that in v, Bond and Pavarotti like Loren (and nobody
and= 0 else likes anybody else), we get this:
(47) [likesY ={(Bond, Loren),(Pavarotti, Loren)}

For our functional-application program to work, we need two

things: (1) transitive verbs need to be able to combine with their
objects by functional application-that is, they need to be functions
that take individual entities as arguments-and (2) VP inter-
pretations produced by combining transitive verbs with their
objects need themselves to be able to combine by functional appli-
.sand used
cation with subjects-that is, the output value of combining a
'{the same
transitive verb with its object should itself be a function of type
Any func-
(e, t), the type we just used for interpreting VPs consisting solely of
mbers of a
an intransitive verb.
the output
Intuitively, if we combine likes and Pavarotti to get the VP likes
the domain
Pavarotti, we want the result to be the characteristic function of the
:tion corre-
set of people who like Pavarotti, and similarly for all other in-
lix, p. 538.)
dividuals in the domain of discourse that might be values of the
l character-
object. Transitive verbs can thus be viewed as functions whose
! the mean-
output value is itself a function. The function-valued function cor-
the domain
responding to (47) would be the following:
.s the dena-
the charac- (48) -)

spective on Pavarotti -) Bond -)

f looking at Loren -)

rrterpret the

· functional Bond -) Bond -)

1re. Loren -)

rpe of func-
"entity") be -)

then (e, t) Loren Bond -)

> (things of Loren -)

Chapter 2 92

So what we want to do is to assign to likes a function that takes the

value assigned to the object, the "likee," as its argument. Func-
tional application then yields as output a new function, which
will be the value of the VP. This VP function yields value 1 when
applied to an individual who likes the individual designated by
the object.
As in the case of intransitive verbs, it is useful to have a way to
represent functions of the type we are using to interpret transitive
verbs. With intransitive. verbs, we used an ordered-pair notation.
The type oftheir arguments, i.e., e, was the first member of the pair,
and the type of their values i.e., t, was the second. That is; we used
(e, t) to represent functions from type e to type t. Following this
same principle, since transitive verbs designate. functions whose
arguments are individuals and whose values are functions of type
(e, t), we will assign them to type (e, (e, t) ), i.e., functions from
things oftype e to things of type (e, t).
In discussing the interpretation of likes, we started with a two-
place relation, whose characteristic function can be thought of as
having two arguments, and ended up with a single argument func-
tion whose value is another function. What we did is follow a
standard way of reducing any function with multi pie arguments (or
its corresponding multiple-place relation) to a one-place function.
This technique is due to M. Schtinfinkel (1924) and was further
developed by Curry (1930). (See the appendix for further discus-
sion of how to "curry" a function.) Let R be any two-place relation
between individual entities; the correspo'llding function f of type
(e, (e, t)) will be the function whose value for any yis the function
gy such that gy(x) = 1 iff (x, y) E R. It follows from this definition
that f(y)(x) = 1 iff (x, y) E R. So now we can provide an appro-
priate denotation for transitive verbs.
(49) [likes]v =the function fin (e,(e,t)) such that f(y) = gy, the
characteristic function of {x: x likes yin v}.
To say that transitive-verb denotations are in type (e, (e, t)) is just
to say that they are functions whose domain is things in e, the type
of individual entities, and whose output values are things in (e, t),
the functional type we have associated with intransitive verbs (that
is, functions from individual entities to truth values, the functional
equivalent of sets of individuals).
Chapter 2 92 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 93

that takes the

Exercise 6 A. Assume that in situation v' we have that
tment. Func-
ction, which [likes] v' = {(Bond, Bond), (Pavarotti, Pavarotti),
ralue 1 when (Loren, Loren), (Loren, Bond)}
.esignated by
Recouch [likes y' as a function-valued function. Having done that,
.ave a way to give the values of [likes Bond] v' and [likes Loren y' .
ret transitive B. Consider the following function of type (e, (e, t)):
lair· notation ..

3r of the pair, [Pavarotti ----7

tt is, we used Pavarotti ----+ Bond ----7

Loren ----7
Jllowing this.
~tions whose

[Pavarotti ----7

tions of type Bond ----+ Bond ----7

Loren ----7

. with a two- [Pavarotti
:hought of as Loren ----+ Bond ----7

Loren ----7
~ument func-
l is follow a Give the corresponding set of ordered pairs .
.rguments (or
ace function ... ·'-
was further In general, given the type e of individuals and the type t of truth
rther discus- values as our basic types, we can construct functions of arbitrary
llace relation complexity, using the following recursive schema:
ion f of type
(50) a. If a and bare types, so is (a, b).
the function
b. Things of type <a, b) are functions from things of type ato
1is definition
things of type b.
:le an appro-
Clearly, (e, t), and (e, (e, t)) are instances of this general schema.
So is (e, (e, (e, t))) (which would correspond to the type of three-
(y) = gy, the
place relations), «e,
t), t), (t, t), and so on. The schema in (50)
defines in simple terms the space of all possible functions one
(e, t)) is just might want to define. When functional types become complex,
in e, the type these angle-bracket expressions can seem quite forbidding. But the
lngs in (e, t), basic principle is very simple and straightforward. Natural lan-
reverbs (that·· guages use just a small subset of these possible types.
J.e functional Let's now see how this new approach might work for calculating
the truth conditions ofsimple sentences. All we have done sci far is
to replace the set-theoretic values for transitive and intransitive
Chapter 7 414 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 95

(44) a. Lee will leave. e. [3Y([2Y) = 1 if LorenE {x: xis hungry in v} iff Loren is
b. [F leave'](Lee') By (39a) hungry in v and = 0 otherwise
= h[F leave'(x)](Lee') By (38b)
The truth cmiditions we have calculated are exactly the same as we
= F leave' (Lee') By },-conversion
would have gotten following our earlier procedures. Now let's look
This is equivalent to what we would get via T raising. The latter at (54), whose truth conditions we calculate in (55).
rule would still be needed to get all the necessary scope inter-
(54) 1 s
actions between tense, negation and other scope bearing elements.
But the option of interpreting T in situ enables us to deal with
coordinated structures such as (40). 2N
~VP 3

vt 4 5 N
Exercise 7 Give the S structure and LF for the following sentence (leaving Tin
situ). Then provide a node-by-node translation.
( 1) Some man came and will sing.
(55) a. [2Y = Bond, by pass-up and (25)
b. [ 4] v = the function fin (e, (e, t)) such that f(y) = gy, the
An alternative approach to the one we have considered relies on
characteristic function of {x: x likes yin v }, by pass-up
the so called VP-internal subject hypothesis (briefly discussed in and exercise 6
chapter 5, section 3.1.2). According to this view, the subject is
c. [5Y = Pavarotti, by pass-up and (25)
generated within the VP and then raised further up in the clause, as d. [3Y = [4]v([5]v), by functional application
shown: e. [4Y([5Y) =the characteristic function of {x: x likes
(45) a. Lee will leave. Pavarotti in v}
b. Base structure f. [1Y = [3Y([2Y), by functional application
TP g. [3Y([2Y) = 1 if BondE {x: x likes Pavarotti in v} iff Bond

likes Pavarotti in v and = 0 otherwise

NP Again, we come up with exactly the same truth conditions that our

original formulation provided.
Besides reducing the stock of interpretive rules we need, there
T are other benefits of this way of doing things. We can let the se-

mantics carry the burden of distinguishing verb subcategorization
and thus do not need distinct syntactic rules for constructing VPs
with transitive verbs and VPs with intransitive verbs (and ulti-
mately VPs with ditransitive and other verbs as well). Instead of
FUT (21d-e) and (21g-h), we have (56a, b), respectively.
(56) a. VP ---7 V(N)
c. S-structure
b. V ---7 is boring, is hungry, is cute, likes
hr Lee 1 will [vr e1 leave]]
The cases in (40) then involve TP conjunction with across-the- The syntax then will generate not only well-formed sentences such
board extraction of the VP-internal subject: as we had before but also sentimces where an intransitive verb is
Chapter 2 96 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 97

followed by an object, (57 a), or a transitive verb appears without its values, i.e., a function in type <t, t). A neg node gets this function
object, (57b). as its interpretation by pass-up, and then rule (31c) is no more than
an instance of function application. The lexical entries in the cate-
(57) a. Loren is cute Pavarotti.
gory conj are also interpreted as functions, but these functions
s have two arguments, and our syntq.ctic rules have the conjoined

~VP structure dominated by a node with three branches rather than two.
Functional application is applicable, however, only to binary

branching nodes where one daughter is a function whose domain
includes the other daughter. Thus we need to change the syntax of
V F1 slightly by replacing (21b) by the following two rules:

I I (58) a. S ----7 S conjP

Loren is cute Pavarotti b. conjP ----7 conj S
b. Bond likes.
In other words, the conjunction and the second conjunct them-
selves form a phrase, which we've called conjP, and this phrase

~VP then combines with the first conjunct. This is just a device to guar-
antee that our branching nodes are all binary, so that functional
application can apply. If natural languages in fact syntactically re-
I quire nonbinary branching nodes, we will need something different
v from our present principle of functional application. But for pres-
ent purposes we can assume binary structures and readily provide
Bond likes lexical entries for and and or that will do the job. What the lexical
entries have to do is to provide a function whose argument is a
As we saw above, is cute will denote a function in <e, t). The V
truth value and whose output is a function that maps a truth value
node dominating it can take Pavarotti as an argument but will then
into a truth value; that is, and and or should be of type <t, <t, t) ).
yield a VP value of 1 if Pavarotti is cute in v and 0 otherwise. This
That is exactly what we get when we play the same trick with and
truth value, however, cannot combine with the subject N, and thus
and or that we played with likes: to reduce a two-argument to a
we cannot assign any semantic value at all to the S node in (57 a). In
one-argument function. So instead of the value for [ andr that we
the case of (57 b), the value of likes will pass up to V and then to VP,
gave in (30), we could use
to yield the characteristic function of {x: x likes yin v}. When we

combine this with Bond, the value passed up to the subject NP, we (59) [andr = r1 ----7
get 1 if Bond likes yin v and 0 otherwise. But these truth conditions

are not fully specified and cannot yield a truth value in v. Thus in
0 ----7
both cases the constructions are not properly interpretable. On this
approach, whether or not a verb takes an object is a matter of its
semantics and not its syntactic categorization. In the rule-to-rule
approach, the argument structure associated with a verb is a matter Exercise 7 Redo the function given in (30) for [orr so that it is of type
of its syntactic and semantic properties. <t, <t, t)) and thus can be used to interpret conjP and structures
We still have said nothing about the logical connectives on this containing it.
new approach. Readers may remember that in (30) it is not the case
that is already interpreted as a function from truth values to truth
Chapter 2 98 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 99

Table 2.3 Functional type assignments for F1 4 Problems

There are several questions that the approach we have introduced
leaves unanswered. We will try to address them at various points in
the course of this book. A preliminary discussion of some of them,
however, might be useful already .at this point. This section is de-
s voted to such preliminary discussion, and it can be skipped with-
N e out in any way undermining the comprehension of subsequent
V1, VP <e. t) material.
Vt <e. <e. t))
conj <t. <t. t))
neg <t. t) 4.1 Situations, circumstances, states of affairs
Our definition of truth depends on a given specification of what the
facts are, one could say, on a data base. It is relativized to what we
A type-driven approach to semantic interpretation does seem to have loosely called situations, circumstances, or states of affairs.
have some advantages over the rule-to-rule approach. The inven- The formal counterpart of the notion of situation or state of affairs
tory of semantic rules gets reduced; for F 1 , we need only "pass-up" that we have adopted in our formal definition of truth is so far very
and "apply." And once the types corresponding to key syntactic rudimentary. We model situations or states of affairs as alternative
categories (like S and N) are set, the types corresponding to the re- assignments of truth values to atomic sentences. Each assignment
maining categories can readily be obtained in a uniform functional tells us which of the atomic sentences are true and which are false
format. There is also the possibility of simplifying the syntax by and thus in a sense offers a characterization or description of a situ-
letting semantic uninterpretability filter out certain unacceptable ation. Alternatively, we could think of situations as assignments
strings, as illustrated in the discussion of (57) above. As that dis- of extensions to predicates: this would amount to a specification of
cussion shows us, limiting semantic procedures allows us to have which individuals satisfy which predicates and thus again could be
lexical items with different semantic types in the same syntactic viewed as a characterization of a state of affairs. Admittedly, this
category, e.g., a single category V rather than the distinct categories way of modeling situations or states of affairs does not do justice to
V; and Vt. Type-driven approaches make the project of arriving their intuitive content. But for our present purposes it suffices. In
at a simple universal semantic procedure look viable. Table 2.3 the grammar of F 1 we do not deal yet with sentence embedding,
shows the type assignments we have used in showing how to and thus we can get by with a very rough hypothesis as to the de-
develop a type-driven alternative for interpreting F 1 • notation of sentences. This enables us to avoid the problems dis-
At the same time, we often can more readily see what is going on cussed in section 2.1 and 2.2.
in particular cases if we are not worrying about letting semantic Of course, at some point the question of sentence embedding will
types do all the interpretive work. Sets of ordered pairs, for exam- have to be addressed, and a more aJ:ticulated way of modeling
ple, seem easier to grasp than functions that map individual enti- states of affairs will perhaps be needed. In fact, it is possible that
ties into functions that then map from individual entities into truth the analysis of more complex constructions will lead us not only to
values (i.e., elements of <e, <e,
t)) ). What we have done in this sec- the introduction of more refined notions of states of affairs or situ-
tion is to illustrate the possibility of replacing rule-to-rule truth- ations but also to the introduction of other semantic concepts
conditional interpretive procedures by ones that are type-driven. such as, say, events, actions, properties, and the like. The point
Although we will not show it in any detail, the further techniques worth emphasizing in this connection is that introducing such
we develop and the analyses we illustrate in the rest of the book do concepts will certainly not exempt us from seeking a match of
have type-theoretic analogues. sentences with their truth conditions, for truth conditions are our
link to logic. As we have seen, part of our semantic competence
Chapter 2 100 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 101

enables us to make judgments of entailment. And a theory of en- even define what a lie is? Moreover, even professional liars are
tailment has to resort, directly or indirectly, to the notion of truth, bound to aim at truth most of the time. What would happen if they
we think. 7 lied in trying to purchase food, getting medical assistance, etc.?
Our strategy can, thus, be summarized as follows. As a result of Donald Davidson (1977, 295) has made this point very clearly: "We
the work of Tarski we know how truth can be formally charac- work on one or another assumption· about the general pattern of
terized. Our aim is to get a Tarski-style definition of truth for ever agreement. We suppose that much of what we take to be common is
larger fragments of natural languages. At the outset it seems rea- true, but we cannot of course assume we know where the truth
sonable to base our definition on fairly elementary concepts so that lies." In fact, it is hard to see how our species could have survived
we can be reasonably sure that we are not sneaking in obscure without being endowed with this disposition to utter truths. Such a
notions in our attempt to characterize meaning. For example, to disposition must be based on a capacity to tell whether a sentence
interpret F1 , we have simply used the following notions: individ- is true or false in a given situation where the relevant facts are
ual, set, circumstances (regarded as ways of evaluating atomic sen- available, a capacity that a theory of truth is designed to represent.
tences). In carrying out this program, we may find constructions A truth-conditional semantics seems to be a necessary ingredient in
whose truth conditions seem to require making an appeal to further the attempt to explain an extremely widespread pattern of behav-
semantic notions (say, events, actions, etc.). These notions will ior: our tendency to utter true sentences.
then be construed as components of a recursive definition of truth Still, there is no denying that truth seems plainly irrelevant to
and come to have the status that theoretical concepts have in any much of our use of language. This applies, for example, to all non-
other empirical inquiry. Their justification will be a matter of declarative sentences. Consider, for example,
overall theory evaluation, which, complicated as it may be, is ulti-
(60) a. Open the door.
mately an empirical question. A strategy of this kind should be
appealing also to those who, like us, are convinced that there is
b. What was open?
more than truth conditions to sentence meaning. To ask whether the sentences in (60) have a truth value seems to be
inappropriate. Yet from this it does not follow that truth conditions
are irrelevant to a characterization of the meaning of (60a) and
4.2 The variability of speech acts (60b). To see this, think of what it takes to understand, say, the
Another difficulty that one might think besets any kind of truth- imperative sentence (60a) as an order. To understand an order, we
conditional semantics is that it appears to be limited to a small and must know what it is to carry it out, that is, what situation must be
artificial fraction of language. Even granting that our approach brought about. In the case of (60a) we are asked to bring about a
works for ordinary uses of simple declarative sentences, how is it situation where a certain door is open. In other words, orders have
ever going to generalize to the indefinite variety of uses that lan- a content: what it is that has to be brought about. It is this content
guage can be put to? And if it does not generalize, why should it be that a truth-conditional theory enables us to characterize. For ex-
interesting as a theory of natural language meaning? The problems ample, we can imagine a characterization of a notion of satisfaction
that this question raises are serious. To see what our line is in of an order along the following lines:
dealing with them, let us consider some specific examples.
( 61) Order J is satisfied iff p is carried out.
For one thing, we lie. That is, we use declarative sentences with
some systematicity, knowing them to be false. This might be taken Here J is an order, and p a description of the conditions to be
to suggest that in large parts of real-life situations we couldn't care carried out. We see no difficulty, in principle, in providing a recur-
less for truth. We, however, think that this pessimistic conclusion sive characterization of such a notion. In fact, it could be directly
is misguided. To be able to lie, we must know that something is modeled on a Tarski-style definition oftruth. 8
true and pretend that it isn't. So if we didn't know under what Consider next a question, such as, say, (60b). What does someone
conditions sentences are true, how could .we lie? How could we who asks it want to know? Well, take the set of all the objects x,
Chapter 2 102 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 103

such that "xis open" counts as an accurate, true answer to (60b), we feel entailments should play a central role in any approach to
that is, the set {x: "xis open" is a true answer to (60b)}. Someone meaning.
who asks (60b) is in fact wondering what the membership of this Finally, it should be understood that exchange of information
set is, what objects belong to it. So perhaps constituent questions presupposes linking sentences to their content (in our terms, to
might be semantically associated with sets of this kind, which their truth conditions). Such a l,ink appears to be based on the
would also be recursively definable in terms of true answers. intention to communicate and must be sustained by a pattern of
Looking at true answers can thus constitute a good starting point in conventions and beliefs among the members of the community of
the investigation of the semantics of questions. 9 speakers. Thus, meaning is a particular kind of action (one that in-
These suggestions are very sketchy. Many different approaches volves bringing about a link between form and content) and can be
are possible in the case of nondeclaratives. Some of them will be properly understood only in the general context of our behavior as
discussed at more length when we deal with speech-act theories socially and historically conditioned rational agents. The specifics
in chapter 4. The general point is that any description of non- of this idea will be discussed at some length in chapter 4. But
declaratives must characterize what their content is. It seems very more generally, this entire work is an attempt to show that truth-
hard to even start talking sensibly about questions or comands conditional semantics is an interesting theory of this form of action
without somehow isolating what is being asked or commanded. We (and of the competence that underlies it).
think that truth-conditional semantics is well designed to charac-
terize the relevant notion of content. The above suggestions are
simply meant to give some intuitive plausibility to this general 4.3 Vagueness
strategy. Another phenomenon that might be thought to undermine our
Considerations of a similar kind apply to the multitude of acts approach is vagueness. Consider the following sentence:
that we can perform by speaking and that go well beyond the (62) This is a chair.
simple exchange of truthful information, acts such as threatening,
Suppose we utter (62) by pointing at some object that is something
imploring, denying, investigating, etc. To perceive a linguistic act
in between a chair and a stool. It is not hard to come across such
as an act of a certain type, we have to be able to isolate what is
objects. We might have a very hard time deciding whether (62) is
literally said, that is, the actual content of the speech act. A truth-
true or false of it. Perhaps the criteria that we use to decide whether
conditional theory of meaning can do that rather well, and that is
something is a chair are just not sharp enough to let us settle the
why we believe a theory of speech acts needs such a theory (just as
question. What then of truth conditions? Doesn't this situation
much as the latter needs the former).
show that even a simple sentence like (62) can easily fail to have
A related issue concerns the emphasis that we are putting on the
truth conditions? Words in natural language are intrinsically vague,
notion of entailment with respect to other semantic notions. Such
and our semantics seems to be poorly equipped for dealing with
an emphasis might appear to be unjustified, since from the point of
view of language users, entailments are simply one of the many
We will try to get by for now by pointing out that there are many
kinds of intuitions that we have about sentences. There are, how-
cases that the criteria for the application of the predicate chair does
ever, two points to consider in this connection. The first is that our
settle: certain things are definitely chairs and others are definitely
capacity for evaluating entailments does appear to be grounded in
not chairs. Those cases are the ones we are talking about in devel-
what we know about meaning, that is, in our semantic competence.
oping our semantics. There is a gray area in between that we are
Thus a theory of entailments is a necessary component of a char-
disregarding at this point. Or rather, we are relativizing our se-
acterization of such competence. Furthermore, we think that there
mantics to some way of resolving vagueness. Our assignment of
are grounds to believe that such a theory can be applied in inter-
truth conditions to sentences of English is exactly as vague as the
esting ways to deal with presuppositions and perhaps semantic
meaning of the basic expressions in those sentences. This is not a
anomaly, as we shall see in subsequent chapters. For these reasons
Chapter 2 104 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 105

trivial achievement, however. It gives us a way of projecting the notion of truth conditions as such. Is this a sound strategy in view
vagueness of words (as well as the precision) into the infinite of our overall approach?
number of sentences in which they occur, in a systematic fashion.
In chapter 8 we will try to show that there are interesting formal 4.4.1 The causal theory of reference To answer the latter question, we
ways of dealing with vagueness that build on the general approach should ask again what it is for. a word to refer to something
to meaning that we are adopting. in a given circumstance. What is it, for example, to claim that
Pavarotti denotes Pavarotti? Many different answers have been
given to this question. One kind of answer might be that Pavarotti
4.4 Truth versus reference can be uniquely identified by means of descriptions like the
In section 1 of this chapter we criticized the claim that meaning is greatest Italian tenor who ever lived or the tenor that performed in
some kind of (internal) representation, as it merely shifts the prob- the Arena di Verona on July 7, 1986. A proper name like Pavarotti
lem of what sentences mean to the one of what their associated might be thought to be associated with a cluster of such descrip-
representations mean. Now, a similar criticism could be leveled tions, Pavarotti being the individual that uniquely falls under
against the present approach. What a Tarski-style definition of truth them. Together such descriptions could be regarded as a criterion
does is to associate sentences with a description of the conditions that uniquely picks out Pavarotti from what there is. As such
under which they are true in a certain metalanguage. It thereby they seem to form a plausible candidate for being the meaning of
seems to shift the issue of meaning from the object language to the Pavarotti. The same point seems to apply to general terms (or
metalanguage without really telling us what meaning is. However, predicates) like water or tiger. They can be thought of as being
the point to note in this connection is that specifying truth con- associated with a set of criteria or descriptions that determine what
ditions (a) forces one to specify what exactly words and phrases falls under such concepts. Such criteria are reasonable candidates
contribute to sentence content and (b) enables us to define entail- for being the meaning of common nouns.
ment and a variety of other semantic notions and to prove claims Kripke (1972), Putnam (1975), and others have pointed out sev-
about them. These, we think, are the specific merits of a truth- eral problems with this view and have proposed an alternative.
conditional approach, and they enable us to make some progress They have noted, among other things, that the view just sketched
toward characterizing the notion of semantic content. has the following curious consequence. Suppose that the criteria
But there is more to this issue. The careful reader will have associated with a term happen to go wrong. Suppose, for example,
noticed a further problem in our presentation. We started out in that Pavarotti turns out not to be the tenor who performed in the
section 3 arguing that instead of taking reference as basic, we Arena di Verona on July 7, 1986. Suppose that the tenor who per-
needed a characterization of sentence meaning in order to define formed in the Arena di Verona on July 7, 1986, turns out to be a
other semantic concepts. We then argued that sentence meaning man whose name is Cipputi (who sang disguised as the better
can be characterized by means of a Tarski-style truth definition. But known Pavarotti). Indeed, suppose that all the descriptions used as
what does such a definition actually do? It reduces the truth con- semantic criteria for applying the name Pavarotti actually describe
ditions of sentences to identification of the extension of terms Cipputi instead. The view sketched above of proper names as hav-
(nouns) and predicates in various situations. Thus it seems that our ing descriptive criteria is then committed to a striking claim: the
grasp of the latter must be prior to our understanding of truth con- name Pavarotti actually refers to Cipputi. This is so because on this
ditions. In other words, a Tarski-style truth definition can do its job view proper names are not directly linked to their bearers.
only if we know how to get at the reference of words first. If the But the example given above suggests that this is just false. To
meaning of the lexical entries is understood, then truth conditions reiterate this point with one of Kripke's examples, suppose that the
of arbitrary sentences can be computed. So maybe for our approach only description we associate with the name K. Godel is the one
to really work, we must, after all, assume as our basic notion the who proved the incompleteness of arithmetic. Suppose that we
notion of reference (across different circumstances) rather than the then find out that a certain Herr Schmidt rather than Godel proved
Chapter 2 106 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 107

the famous theorem. The description theory predicts that the name his naming. His parents spread the name, and others acquired it
Godel should then refer to Schmidt. In other words, "Gi::idel proved and with it a direct link to him, whether or not they ever encounter
the incompleteness of arithmetic" is true by definition, since Godel him in the flesh. As members of the same language community, we
simply means prover of the incompleteness theorem. But surely rely on that link when we use the name. We talk about the man
this is wrong. Examples of this kind can be constructed, it seems, who was so registered, no matter what beliefs we might have about
for any description or feature cluster we can conceive. him. With words like tiger the story is considerably more compli-
The view that reference is mediated by a cluster of descriptions cated but nonetheless plausibly similar. In general, a crucial class
seems initially even more appealing for common nouns than for of words appears to get directly attached to referents in a variety of
proper names. We may be willing to admit that proper names are ways, of which an original dubbing ceremony may be one.
linked directly to their bearers and lack descriptive content to Second, there is the issue of what makes something a tiger and
mediate that link, yet we are accustomed to thinking of the meaning Pavarotti Pavarotti. This is the problem of what determines mem-
of words like water, tiger, and woman-words that refer to what bership in a certain class or the identity of a certain individual. On
Kripke calls "natural kinds"-as more directly involving defini- such matters the language community often relies on experts. For
tional criteria. The Kripke-Putnam arguments for abandoning this instance, in the case of applying tiger and other kind-denoting
view of the meaning of such common nouns are more complex (and terms, we tend to rely on genetic templates as biology currently
have won fewer converts) than those dealing with proper names. characterizes them. The best theory available on the matter is what
Yet notice that when our identificational criteria for applying such we use to settle disputes. For Pavarotti his parents may be our best
a noun go wrong, our mistakes do not change what it is we are experts where identification is problematic.
talking about or referring to when we use the word. People used to Third, there is the issue of what kind of information the compe-
think that whales were fish and not mammals, but it seems in- tent speaker of English normally relies on in trying to use words
tuitively plausible that we, who are biologically more sophisticated like tiger or Pavarotti. We certainly must cognitively represent
than they and have different criteria, are nonetheless talking about concepts of tigers and of Pavarotti and somehow use these repre-
the same creatures our ancestors were when we use the word sentations in processing the words tiger and Pavarotti. But it is un-
whale. Suppose that whale used to "mean" a kind of fish. Then clear whether these concepts play any semantic role. On the causal
when these earlier speakers spoke about whales, they were not theory of reference, such cognitive representations do not enter
speaking about Moby Dick and his kin. But this seems wrong. They into determining truth conditions. What is crucial for truth is the
believed that the very same creatures we think are mammals were referential link itself, and that is a matter of the causal history of
fish. It is not the meaning of whale that has changed but beliefs the world (which baby it was whose parents named it Luciano
about the creatures included in its reference. Pavarotti, for example) rather than of conceptual structure (the
The above considerations suggest that the semantics of proper concept a speaker has of Pavarotti). What emerges from the Kripke
names and perhaps also some basic general terms like tiger can and Putnam line is that words of an important class have to be
be articulated in three components. First, there is the issue of somehow directly linked to their possible extensions. There is in
what determines the reference of Pavarotti or tiger, that is, what de- their meaning an inescapable demonstrative component. For them
termines the association of a particular word with a particular we can't do much better than saying things like "Pavarotti is this
object or class of objects. The Kripke and Putnam view proposes a man" or "Tigers are animals like these," pointing at the right
direct "causal" link between words like Pavarotti and tigers and things. This does not mean that all words work like this, however.
objects like Pavarotti and tigers, respectively. For example, at one Many words have, for example, semantic relations to other words
point Pavarotti was registered in the city hall of his birth place as or semantically relevant internal structure. We will discuss this
"Luciano Pavarotti," and that act, in virtue of the conventions as- issue further in chapter 8.
sociated with it, created a direct causal link between Pavarotti and From the perspective of our semantics there are certain general
Pavarotti. The man himself figured in the chain of events leading to consequences that it might be tempting to draw from Kripke's and
Chapter 2 108 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 109

Putnam's work. Maybe what Tarski-style truth definitions accom- root of Quine's (1960) worries about the "radical indeterminacy of
plish is the reduction of the notion of meaning to the notion of ref- translation." From our point of view, the issue is the following. A
erence (via the notion of truth). This reduction succeeds where compositional semantics for a language like English seems to re-
other previous attempts have failed because it can provide a com- quire causal links between lexical items and their references. But
positional account of sentence meaning, a characterization of such causal links seem to pres11ppose a set of collective inten-
notions like entailment, and a plausible account of the meaning tions, beliefs, etc., about a language like English. Truth seems to
of function words, among other things. Reference is then to be depend on reference. And reference on truth. Aren't we running in
understood along the lines that Kripke and Putnam have in- a circle?
dependently argued for, namely, as a direct causal link of words to Not necessarily. To show this, let us sketch a highly idealized
objects and classes of objects that propagates through the language picture of how a semantic system like the one we have sketched
community by means of various conventions. Of course, much might come about. One might start with a language much simpler
more work is needed to spell out what counts as a "direct causal than English, perhaps one that only contains a finite number of
link" between words and their referents and exactly how a com- sentences. The truth conditions for the sentences of this language
munity maintains such connections through the language-using might be agreed upon globally. In other words, sentences may be
practices that prevail among its members. But we do seem to have linked to aspects of states of affairs holistically (all at once and
a useable preliminary picture of how the meaning of basic ex- without analyzing them into components and establishing refer-
pressions might ultimately be rooted in (and hence depend on) ences for such components). If the language is small enough, this
ways of referring. will be possible, for it involves only agreeing upon a list pairing
each sentence with the conditions that must hold for its truth. Once
4.4.2 Atomism versus holism in semantics One might think that the such a language is in place, reference of some sentence components
picture we have just sketched yields a form of "semantic atom- may be determined by a process of abstraction. Suppose, for exam-
ism."10 It reduces the problem of determining the meaning of a ple, that the language in question contains sentences like "Hobbes
complex expression to the problem of determining the reference of is a tiger," "Hobbes is not a lion," and "Hobbes is striped," and
its parts. In a Tarski-style definition the truth conditions of suppose furthermore that we have somehow agreed on the truth
"Hobbes is a lion" depend on what Hobbes and lion refer to. This conditions associated with them. By looking at the role of the word
might be taken to presuppose that each part can be linked in isola- tiger in channeling the truth conditions of the sentences in which it
tion to its reference, where reference is understood as a direct link occurs, we may then be able to agree on the fact that tiger refers to
between an expression and its denotation causally brought about tigers. That is, we may be able to articulate a component of a sen-
and transmitted through the community of speakers. The refer- tence, identify a regularity in our experience, and establish a causal
ences of basic expressions are the atoms out of which truth con- or conventional link between the two.
ditions are built. At this point, having established a common, if limited, frame of
But this view is questionable. How can reference be established reference, we may expand our language by adding new sentences
without a conceptual frame that allows us to identify and classify and establishing their truth conditions, using our original language
individuals? How can a causal link between the expressions of a and our newly acquired frame of reference. So the process starts
language and any aspect of reality be brought about and transmitted again, going through stages where new sets of sentences are holis-
without a network of intentions, conventions, and beliefs about that tically mapped onto aspects of the world and stages where new
language shared by its speakers? Try to imagine the situation where frames of reference are established by abstraction. A language like
a link between Pavarotti and Pavarotti, or tiger and tigers is brought English can be viewed as a point where this process stabilizes (to a
about. Saying "This is a tiger" and pointing at a tiger will not suf- degree, for languages change constantly). A Tarski-style semantics
fice. How do we know that one intends to refer to tigers rather than can be viewed as characterizing a language that has reached its
to, say, striped animals in general? This type of problem is at the point of equilibrium.
Chapter 2 110 Denotation, Truth, and Meaning 111

The very same ideas can be developed as a picture of language Consider next the following situations:
acquisition. Consider how the child might acquire a semantic sys~ (v1 ) [Pavarotti is cute]v1 = 1
tern like the one that underlies English. Conceivably, the child
[SY1 = 0 for every atomic S different from "Pavarotti is
might start off by figuring out the truth conditions of a small set cute."
of English sentences, those that are somehow more salient in her
experience. Our language learner will globally link sentences to (Recall that S is atomic iff it does not contain any sentential con-
situations without necessarily analyzing the contributions of their nective, like and, or, or negation.)
components. The child can then figure out the reference of words (vz) [Pavarotti is boring]vz = 1
from the role they play in channeling the truth conditions of sen- [Loren is boring] vz = 1
tences. This process of abstraction leads the child to acquire [Bond is cute]vz = 1
aspects of the frame of reference and of the system of causal links [Bond likes Bond]v2 = 1
prevailing in her community. Familiarity with the reference frames [Bond likes Pavarotti] vz = 1
associated with certain word families will prompt the acquisition [Loren introduces Pavarotti to Bond]vz = 1
of truth conditions for new sentences, and the process enters a [Bond introduces Pavarotti to Bond]vz = 1
second cycle. And so on. Throughout this process the child is pre- [S] vz = 0 for any atomic S different from the ones listed
sumably guided by an innate apparatus, say, general capacities for above.
concept formation that our species may be endowed with, perhaps
along with some machinery specific to language. On this view, a (v3 ) [is cute]v3 = {L}
compositional semantic system arises only as a culmination or [is hungry] v3 = 0
point of equilibrium of a complex process of abstractive reflection [is boring]v3 = {P, B, L}
that goes through stages. Reference as such is not there initially but [likes ]v3 = { (B, B), (B, P), (B, L)}
comes into play only through the contribution that it makes to the [introduces Y 3 = 0
truth conditions of sentences. Here P = Pavarotti, B = Bond, and L = Loren. Give the values ofthe
These considerations, as much armchair theorizing on cognition following in each of the above situations.
and language acquisition, should not be taken as realistic descrip-
(1) is cute
tions of how a semantic system like that of English gets established
or is acquired by the child. Their purpose is to demonstrate that our (2) introduces Pavarotti to Bond
theory of meaning and the causal theory of reference are not logi-
(3) Pavarotti is boring or [Loren is boring and it is not the case that
cally committed to a kind of semantic atomism. Nor do truth and 11
Bond likes Loren]
reference depend on one another in a circular way. I 'I 0
There is no way that we could do justice here to the richness of (4) [Pavarotti is boring or Loren is boring] and it is not the case that
the positions that emerge from the philosophical debate associated Bond likes Loren
I v I
with truth-conditional semantics. But pedagogical considerations (5) [Pavarotti is boring or Loren is boring] or [Pavarotti is boring
required us not to bypass completely discussion of some of the and Loren is boring]
claims most often associated with it.
(6) it is not the case that it is not the case that [Bond introduces
Pavarotti to Loren or Loren introduces Pavarotti to Bond]
Exercise 8 Add the following to F1. (7) Pavarot'ti likes Loren and [Bond likes Pavarotti or Bond likes
VP ___. Vdt N toN Bond]

Vdt ___. introduces Show whether the following pairs of sentences are logically equiv-
What is [[vp Vdt N to N']] v equal to?
Chapter 2 112
3 Quantification and Logical Form

(8) a. [Pavarotti is boring and Loren is boring] and Bond is boring

b. Pavarotti is boring and [Loren is boring and Bond is boring]
(9) a. Pavarotti is boring and [Loren is boring or Bond is boring]
b. [Pavarotti is boring or Loren is boring] and [Pavarotti is
boring or Bond is boring]

(10) a. Pavarotti is boring and [Loren is boring or Bond is boring]

b. Pavarotti is boring or Bond is boring 1 Introduction
We introduced truth-conditional (or logical) semantics by con-
sidering a simple language, F 1 , in which we could attribute certain
properties (being boring, being hungry, liking James Bond, etc.) to
certain individuals (Bond, Loren, and Pavarotti). The language F1 ,
however, provides no way to move beyond talk of particular in-
dividuals to the expression of generalizations, such as those in (1).
(1) a. Everyone likes Loren.
b. No one is boring.
c. Someone is hungry.
One might suggest that we can express the content of the sentences
in (1) by using sentences like those in (2).
(2) a. Loren likes Loren, and James Bond likes Loren, and
Pavarotti likes Loren.
b. It is not the case that [Loren is boring or Bond is boring or
Pavarotti is boring].
b'. Loren is not boring, and Bond is not boring, and Pavarotti is
not boring.
c. Loren is hungry, or Bond is hungry, or Pavarotti is hungry.
This is almost right if our domain of discourse includes only Bond,
Loren, and Pavarotti. In such contexts the sentences in (2) will
be truth-conditionally equivalent to those in ( 1). But suppose
that there are some additional individuals under consideration.
The sentences in (1) would automatically take account of those in-
dividuals in addition to our familiar three, whereas the sentences
in (2) must be amended. Moreover, it does not seem necessary for
us to be able to name the additional individuals to include them in
our generalizations, since expressions like everyone, no one, and
someone automatically include them.
Such expressions are quantificational, as are many others: most,
many, two, all. Quantificational expressions introduce the power
to express generalizations into language, that is, the power to move
beyond talk about properties of particular individuals to saying
Chapter 3 114 Quantification and Logical Form 115

what quantity of the individuals in a given domain have a given Both approaches share the fundamental idea that the interpretation
property. The quantificational apparatus of a language is a central of sentences with quantificational expressions is systematically re-
plank of its expressive capacity. lated to the interpretation of nonquantificational sentences about
Quantification in natural language is an extremely complex phe- individuals.
nomenon, one that we will not address directly at first. Instead, we We can think of the truth-conditional import of the sentences in
will first present the syntax and semantics of an artificial language (1) by imagining the sentences in (3a-c) uttered again and again,
that contains constructions capable of representing some very each time accompanied by a pointing at a different individual until
common quantificational tools of natural languages. This is the each individual in the domain has been pointed at. With each
language of what is known as (first-order) predicate calculus with pointing, the sentences are understood as saying of the particular
identity. The semantic techniques for interpreting languages of this individual in the domain pointed at that she or he likes Loren, is
kind form the core of standard quantification theory and can be boring, or is hungry. Relative to that pointing, each of these sen-
extended to apply directly to English and other natural languages. tences can be assigned a truth value of either true or false, as we
Before presenting the formal language, however, we will introduce elaborated in the preceding chapter. But what about the sentences
its distinctive semantic idea informally. in (1)? They say something about the pattern of these successive
As the sentences in (2) suggest, there is indeed a systematic con- valuations, something that holds regardless of the order in which
nection between the truth conditions of sentences with quantified we choose to point, provided that we eventually point at all the
expressions as subjects and the truth conditions of sentences with individuals. Sentence (1a) says that (3a) is true relative to every
such ordinary referring expressions as personal pronouns or proper pointing, sentence (1b) says that (3b) is true with respect to no
names as subjects. It is this connection that quantification theory pointing (that it is false relative to every pointing), and sentence
exploits. Our approach to evaluating sentences like those in (2) ( 1c) says that ( 3c) is true relative to some pointing or other.
seems to have something to do with our evaluations of sentences The basic idea can be applied to other quantified expressions.
like those in (3). (4) a. Three cats have whiskers.
(3) a. She/he likes Loren. b. Most cats have whiskers.
a'. Bond/Pavarotti/Loren likes Loren. c. Many cats have whiskers.
b. She/he is boring. d. One cat has whiskers.
b'. Bond/Pavarotti/Loren is boring. Each of these sentences can be thought of as having two compo-
c. She/he is hungry. nents. One is a simple subject-predicate sentence with something
c'. Bond/Pavarotti/Loren is hungry. like a pronoun as its subject, something like (5), which can be
The basic semantic ir.sights of quantification theory can be im- evaluated as true or false only with respect to some individual
plemented so as to emphasize the connection to sentences with contextually taken as a value for the pronoun (demonstrated by
proper names in place of quantificational expressions, sentences pointing, for example) and which by itself expresses no general-
like those in (3a'-c'), Substitutional approaches to quantification ization.
work in this way and have strategies for dealing with some of the (5) It has whiskers.
problems we pointed to in discussing the sentences in (2) as possi-
ble paraphrases of those in (1). For example, languages can be "ex- The other component, the quantified expression, tells us some-
tended" so that all objects about which we want to generalize are thing about how many different values of the pronoun we have to
provided with names. Then we would say, for example, that (1a) consider (in this case the quantified expression can also be thought
is true if and only if substitution of names for every individual of as instructing us to limit the domain of individuals being con-
yields truth. But we will not pursue the substitutional approach. sidered to cats). The quantified expression is the generalizing
Instead, we will present an objectual approach, developing the component. Sentence (4a) is true just in case there are at least three
connection with sentences with pronouns, like those in (3a-c). different cats to point to of whom (5) is true; (4b) requires that most
Chapter 3 116 Quantification and Logical Form 117

(more than half) of our paintings at cats pick out cats of which (5) is defined in terms of generalizations about values assigned to the
true; (4c) is true just in case "many" of our paintings pick out cats singular sentence.
of which (5) is true (and how many this requires depends on vari- Though it may seem simple now, this two-stage approach was
ous contextual factors); finally, (4d) requires only one pointing at a an enormous breakthrough. It provided us with the first fully gen-
cat of whom (5) is true. In other words, we seem to have analyzed eral treatment of multiply quantified sentences (sentences with
the sentences in (4) roughly along the lines indicated in (6): interdependent occurrences of several quantified expressions, like
"Every student meets two professors every week"). In the following
(6) a. (three cats)(it has whiskers)
section we are going to see how multiple quantification can be
b. (most cats)(it has whiskers)
made more explicit by incorporating it into the syntax of a formal
c. (many cats)(it has whiskers)
language (the predicate calculus).
d. (one cat)( it has whiskers)
This may seem unnatural, since the sentences in (4) do not con-
tain any overt pronouns. But now consider a sentence like (7). 1,1 The standard theory of quantification
(7) Every cat is proud of its whiskers.
1.1.1 The syntax of the predicate calculus The syntax of the predicate
Whereas (5) is incomplete without some contextual demonstration calculus (PC) can be given in terms of a simple set of phrase-struc-
to supply a referent for the pronoun, (7) does not seem to need such ture rules such as those in (9). In stating these rules, we abbreviate a
a demonstration, even though (7) also contains an occurrence of the set of rules of the form A ____, C1 , ... , Cn.
pronoun it. The pronoun in (7), however, does not refer to some Form is the category of formulas; Predn is the category of n-
particular cat or set of cats. This might seem mysterious, but it is placed predicates; tis the category of terms; canst is the category of
very natural if we analyze (7) as having two components, just as we (individual) constants; var is the category of (individual) variables;
did with our earlier sentences. conn is the category of connectives; neg is the category of negation.
(8) (every cat)(it is proud ofits whiskers) To keep the presentation simple, we have included only one-place
(monadic), two-place (dyadic), and three-place (triadic) predicates,
The pronoun it(s) in (8), our abstract representation of (7), serves but (9b) could easily be expanded to include predicates with more
as a placeholder for successive paintings: each successive pointing argument places, since rule (9a) is written in a general form. The
must assign to both occurrences of the pronoun it(s) the same
object. The semantic value of both occurrences must covary. The
analysis in (8) makes this explicit by having the placeholder occur
(9) a. Form---> Predn(tt, ... , tn)
twice, though, of course, it is only the second occurrence that b. i. Pred1 ---> P, Q
actually surfaces as a pronoun in natural English. The pronoun that ii. Pred 2 ---> K
surfaces in ( 7) seems to do exactly what the (abstract) subject pro- iii. Pred 3 ---> G
c. t ---> canst, var
nouns we hypothesized in (5) and (6) do.
d. i. canst ---> j, m
It was Frege who first had the idea of analyzing quantified state- ii. var---> x1,xz,x3, ... ,xn, ...
ments such as those we have considered as having two compo- e. Form---> Form Conn Form
nents: one a singular sentence with a placeholder element like a f Conn---> A (to be read "and"), v (to be read "or"), ---> (to be read
"if ... then ... "), +--+(to be read "if and only if")
pronoun and the other a component that says how many of the g. Form ---> Neg Form
possible values for that placeholder are such that the singular sen- h. Neg--->-, (to be read "it is not the case that")
tence is true relative to that value for the placeholder. Truth con- j. Form ---> 'Vxn Form, 3xn Form. 'Vxn should be read "for every Xn ";
ditions for these quantified statements are defined in two stages: 3xn should be read "for some Xn" or "there is (at least) a Xn such
first, truth conditions are defined for the singular sentence relative k. Form ---> t = t
to some value for the placeholder(s), and then truth conditions are
Chapter 3 118
Quantification and Logical Form 119

number of places associated with a predicate is sometimes called

In representing syntactic structures it is generally useful to leave
its adicity. We also simplified by including only two expressions as
out some details to keep things simple. Thus, for example, in rep-
one-place predicates (P and Q), two expressions as constants (j and
resenting labeled bracketings, we can go further than we did in
m), one two-place predicate (K), and one three-place predicate (G).
(10a 1, b') and omit category labels and brackets whenever no am-
Adding more expressions in any of these categories is perfectly
biguity in syntactic structure results. Under this convention, we
straightforward. We have adopted symbols for connectives and
can rewrite (10a', b') as (11a, b), respectively. Formulas (11c-f)
quantifiers that are frequently used. But in the logic and semantic
give further examples of well-formed structures associated with
literature there is a fair amount of variation, unfortunately, when it
formulas generated by (9).
comes to notation.
In (10a, b) we give as illustrations two phrase-structure trees ad- (11) a. --,K(j,x4)
mitted by (9) together with the corresponding labeled bracketings. b. Vx2 [G(j,m,x2 ) AP(xz)]
In giving the labeled bracketings, we omit representing lexical c. Vx13xz[K(x1,xz)]
categories, for simplicity. Note that parentheses and commas be- d. Vx7--, [Q(x7) ----+ K(x7, j)]
long to no category; they are simply introduced by rule (9a). e. 3x3[P(x3) v Q(j)]
f. [[3x3Q(x3)] v P(x3)]
(10) a. Form

Formula (11b) can be read "For every x 2 , the G relation holds be-
tween j, m, and x 2 , and x 2 has the property P."
Neg Form Quantificational sentences are built out of sentences containing

Pred t 2t
variables. This is a way of representing the idea informally pre-
sented in the introduction that quantification has two components:
a sentence containing ordinary (unquantified) attributions of prop-

erties to referents and an instruction as to how many such referents
should have the properties. Variables are going to play the semantic
role that pronouns were playing in that earlier informal discussion.
1 K (j,
X 4)
In a formula like 3x3Q(x3), the variable x 3 is said to be bound. As
a'. [Form•[Form K(j,x4)]] we will see when we turn to the semantics of PC, the contribution
b. of a bound variable is completely determined by the quantifier with
which it is coindexed: this particular formula says that something
is Q. In a formula like Q(x3), the variable x 3 is free, and the formula
Form says that x 3 , which must somehow get assigned a particular value, .
.. ' is Q. The syntax ofPgdistinguishes bound and free variables. ~"; ;,\\) ~ :,·
'],, , \ ;, , \ ~j Let us spell this out. We can say that an occurrence of a variable
Form conn Form 5
J' Xn is syntactically bound iff it is c-commanded by a quantifier

Pred3 t
t t
Pred 1
coindexed with it (that is, it is ofthe form Vxn or 3xn); otherwise we
c -c.::Jr /\[ /\ ,n\. say that Xn is free. C-command (which abbreviates constituent
command) is defined as follows:
cons cons var
I I (12) A c-commands B iff the first branching node that dominates
A also dominates B.
I I I I Accordingly, the first occurrence of x 3 in (11/) is bound, the second
Vx2 G (j, m, X2 ) A P (xz)
one is free. Perhaps this can be best appreciated by switching from
b'. [Form Vxz[Form [Form G(j,m,xz)] A [Form P(xz)]]] the labeled bracketing notatio~ to the corresponding phrase marker:
Chapter 3 120 Quantification and Logical Form 121

(13) Form through the interpretation of PC. Essentially, if an occurrence of

variable x is syntactically bound by a quantifier Q in a formula ¢,
what x contributes to the truth conditions of rjJ is determined by Q: a
Form conn Form
bound occurrence of x does not have any independent fixed value.
Customarily, the syntax of PC is. specified by means of a recursive
definition, rather than by means of phrase-structure grammars. In
(15) we give a recursive characterization of the syntax of PC, which
is equivalent to (9). It is easy to verify that the structuresinj_1JJare
v ~l~<:J~~EJ:itted bythe cla11ses in(l[j). (JI) Q . .., I< (J, ~<:,1 ) (,\\q,)s (,. r •

We also say that the syntactic scope of a quantifier is what it

c-commands (or, equivalently, its c-command domain). Thus, the
Exercise 1 Prove the last claim for the first two examples in (11) by generating
scope of 3x3 in (13) is the boxed occurrence of Q(xs). The notion of them using the rules in (15).
scope can be generalized to any connective or operator. That is to
say, we can talk of the scope of negation, disjunction, and so on in
exactly the same sense in which we talk of the scope of quantifiers. There are two rather trivial differences between the syntax in (9)
Finally, we say that an occurrence of Xn is syntactically bound by and the one in (15). The first concerns the fact that (9) generates
a quantifier Qn iff Qn is the lowest quantifier c-commanding Xn. terminal strings of the category Form that are ambiguous, as they
Thus, in (14a), Vx3 binds only the second occurrence of x 3 , while can be associated with different phrase markers or bracketings.
3x3 binds the first one. In fact, as we will shortly see, the formula in Thus, as in the case of F 1 , in order to do semantics we have to refer
(14a) will turn out to be equivalent to the one in (14b), where to sentences under an analysis. On the other hand, (15) is designed
quantificational dependencies are expressed in a graphically to encode directly a certain amount of syntactic structure in the
clearer way. string of symbols that are admitted as members of the category of
(14) a. Form formulas. In particular, ( 15) encodes structural information into
terminal strings in the form of (unlabeled) bracketings. As a con-
sequence, (15) generates unambiguous formulas, and semantics can
be done directly in terms of the members of category Form, rather
than in terms of the members of category Form under a certain
analysis. The second difference concerns the fact that the connec-
tives /\, v, and--, are assigned to the categories conn and neg by the

(15) a. For any integer n,xn is an (individual) variable.

b. j, mare (individual) constants.
c. Variables and constants are terms.
d. P, Q are in Pred1 (one-place predicates), Kis in Pred 2 , G is in
Pred 3 •
The two formulas in (14) are said to be alphabetic variants of one e. If A is ann-place predicate and t1, ... , tn are n terms, then
another and will turn out to be equivalent on our semantics; for A(t1, ... , tn) is a Form (formula). 2
clarity, we will generally have distin:ct variables bound by dis- f. If A and Bare formulas, then so are -,A, [A A B], [A v B], [A---t B],
[A <--t B], VxnA, 3xnA.
tinct quantifier occurrences. 1 The syntactic notions of bondage and g. If t1, t 2 are terms, then t1 = t 2 is a formula.
freedom have a semantic basis that will become clear as we work
Chapter 3 122 Quantification and Logical Form 123

grammar in (9). In the grammar in (15), they are assigned to no one person as we utter the first she and to another when the second
category at all. In the latter case, we say that they are treated syn- she is pronounced. In contrast, in (16b) we are required to assign
categorematically. It wouldn't be hard to modify (15) so as to the same value to x 1 in each of its occurrences: thus (16b) must be
,__.) ',~) ) ( i ' I l (,, ,~ \ { ( i \ ·. f \

introduce in it the categories conn and neg. read as saying that the individual assigned to x 1 stands in the K re-
lation to itself (in this case, she .thinks that she herself is smart),
whereas ( 16c) says that the individual assigned to x 1 stands in the K
Exercise 2 A. How would you define bound and free variables, given the syn- relation to the individual assigned to x 3 (which says nothing about
tax in (15)? .. .f,.JJ J .~ whether the individuals involved are one and the same individual
B. Consider the formula [• (~(x) A Q(x)l· What is the scope of nega- and certainly does not require that they are). We can think of vari-
tion according to (15)? 1 ~nlu wh,~t ~~ !p~ ~<??,!?~ ?f1 ,t1~r 1\C),~rt?-Pfier in ables as abstract pronouns, with the proviso that in a given context
[VxQ(x) _, P(x)]? we can point to only one individual for each distinct variable.
In interpreting variables, the critical thing is that we will need to
consider alternative assignments of values, just as we need to con-
1.1.2 The semantics for PC In what follows we provide a semantics sider alternative values for a pronoun whose antecedent is a quan-
for PC based on the syntax in (15). For F 1 we defined truth tified expression, as in (8). We already noted in connection with F 1
conditions recursively on the basis of syntactic recursion. We that predicates have an extension in a given set of circumstances
follow the same sort of procedure in treating the semantics of PC, that depends on what the circumstances are like, what the facts are.
but now we must consider variables and quantifiers, which are For variables, it is crucial that we allow for alternative assignments
quite different from the names, predicates, and connectives we even where the facts are fixed.
encountered in F1 . One way of achieving such a goal in interpreting PC is to use two
We have already suggested that variables in PC play some of the independent value-assigning functions. We will have a function V
roles associated with pronouns in natural languages. It is part of that assigns a value to individual constants and to predicative ex-
their semantics that they can refer to any individual at all in a given pressions and a different function g that assigns a single value to
set and can be used with quantifiers to say something general about each distinct variable. It can be helpful to think of g as fixing the
such a set. value of each variable much as an act of ostension can fix the value
In understanding variables, we must consider the possibility of of an antecedentless third-person pronoun. 3 The semantics for
assigning them different values. For present purposes we can think quantifiers will then be given as an instruction as to how to process
of these as something like the paintings we imagined for con- value assignments to variables.
textually specifying the values of antecedentless pronouns. The Perhaps the best way to understand the semantics for PC is by
main difference is that we can use different ostensions or paintings looking at a concrete example. In what follows, we will present first
to fix references of different occurrences of a single pronoun in a a specific interpretation for PC; later on we will discuss the general
sentence, but different occurrences of a single variable in a formula form that any interpretation of PC must have.
are to be understood as having the same reference. Let us illustrate Interpreting PC involves choosing a set of entities we want to talk
what we mean. Consider (16). about (let's say the set that contains our old friends Bond, Pavarotti,
and Loren) and assigning a specific extension to the constants. We
(16) a. She thinks that she is smart.
can, for example, decide that m stands for Loren, and j for Pavar-
b. K(x1,x1)
otti. Moreover, we can think of Q as having as its extension those
c. K(x1,x3)
who are hungry (on a certain occasion), P as standing for being
Interpret K(x, y) as x thinks that y is smart. (This is just a conve- boring, K as the relation of liking and the three-place relation Gas
nience for illustrating our point about variable interpretation; we standing for introducing (i.e., G(x, y, z) might be read as "x in-
will not actually deal with formal representations of English sen- troduces y to z"). Formally, the model we have in mind is specified
tences like (16a) until chapter 5.) When using (16a), we can point at as follows.
Chapter 3 124 Quantification and Logical Form 125

(17) a. Let M1 be a pair <U1 , V1), where U1 is a set of individuals have to relativize interpretation to both the model and the assign-
( (which we will call the domain or universe of discourse) ment because complex expressions can contain both constants and
and v1 assigns an extension in u1 to each individual variables. Our interpretation will be recursive. Consequently, the
constant of PC and an extension of n-tuples built from U1 to first thing we have to do is to provide the base for the recursion. In
each predicate. In particular, (18) we provide the base for the ·recursive definition of the inter-
U1 = {Bond, Pavarotti, Loren} pretation of PC, relative to the situation encoded in M 1 and the
V 1 (j) =Bond (: •
assignment of g . ·-/
'r:(/ ) 1h(lvrl,nc /(( , 11 (~, fcv<lj"',-'f'~',!"· -:. 11.·;1'·,.
1 cJ . .
~( ·
1 e..v~ 1r,, 1kc_ c~~,1d 1; 'IQ (''] -.-rr ( /(~
V 1 (m) =Loren )
' V1 (P) ={Loren, Pavarotti} (18) If A is either a predicate or an individual constant, then
[A]M,,g, = V1 (A). If A is a variable, [A]M,,g, = g1 (A).
~: V 1 (Q) ={Loren, Bond}
) V 1 (K) = {<Bond, Bond), <Bond, Loren), What (18) does is ground our interpretive function [ ] (now rela-
1 <Loren, Pavarotti), <Pavarotti, Loren)} tivized to a model and an assignment) in the previously defined V
I, V1 (G) = {<Bond, Loren, Pavarotti), <Loren, Loren, Bond), and g functions so that constants are interpreted with respect to
· <Loren, Bond, Pavarotti), <Pavarotti, Pavarotti, what the facts are and variables with respect to an assignment
Loren)}. function. We now provide the recursive clauses that concern the
b. Let g1 be a function that assigns to any variable a value quantifier-free portion of PC.
!') ~~ {\ drawn from U1 . In particular, let g1(x1) =Bond, let gl(xz)
(19) For any formulas A, B, any Predn R, and any terms t 1,. 0 0, tn,
= Loren, and for all n ;:::: 3, let g1(xn) = Pavarotti. The
a. [R(t1, otn)]M,,g, = 1 iff <[tt]M,,g,, ... , [tn]M,g,) E [R]M,,g,
•• ,

function g1 can also be represented as a list of the following

b [ AAB]M,,g, = 1 iff [A]M,,g, = 1 and [B]M,g, = 1 (1°"' '.~·\;'~'~;·,;·,·';.~,·,

kind: · r ·I·· vo···
c. [A v B]M,g, = 1 iff [A]M,,g, = 1 or [B]M,,g, = 1 ''' \. '

g1 = [:: : ~:~e~ d. [A --7 B]M,,g, = 1 iff [A]M,,g, = 0 or [B]M,,g, = 1

e. [A+--+ B]M,,g, = 1 iff [A]M,,g, = [B]M,,g,
pc ·
Xn --7 Pavarotti where n ;:::: 3
f. [-,A]M,,g, = 1 iff [A]M,,g, = 0
M 1 is called a model for PC. In general, models are abstract struc- g. [ti = tj]M,,g, = 1 iff [ti]M,,g, is the same as [tj]M,,g,
tures that we use as auxiliary devices in providing interpretations.
Before moving to the semantics of quantifiers, perhaps we can
Model theory is a branch of modern logic that deals with the
look at how (19) enables one to interpret quantifier-free formulas of
semantics of formal systems. Our ultimate goal is applying model
PC. On the next page we compute the value of ( 20) in M 1 with respect
theory to natural-language semantics.
to g1. After of each step of the computation, we give its justification.
So, selecting M 1 means that we are going to talk about Bond,
Loren and Pavarotti. Furthermore, by assigning an extension to (20) P(m) 1\ Q(x3)
predicates, we describe, in a sense, a situation or state of affairs. For
In (h) ofthe computation for (20) we have what can be thought of as
example, M1 as we have set it out represents a situation where
the truth conditions of formula (20), relative to M1; (k) gives the
Loren and Pavorotti are hungry but Bond is not and where Loren
truth value of (20), given what the facts of M1 are.
has introduced herself to Bond but Bond has not been introduced
to her. Particular models such as M1 can be thought of, then, as
ways of representing situations, collections of facts, or data. Fur-
Exercise 3 State the most efficient way to compute the truth values of the fol-
thermore, in (17b), we single out a function g1 to assign values to
lowing formulas:
variables. When we give the semantics for V and :1 along the lines
( 1) [R( x,y ) 1\ P(x)]--7 Q(x) flr5\ ./:(),(X)~\ , ,\ ~o, <.J'''"'· ,)JA•Q, \i;·,"u~' -1\~n
described in section 1, this will enable us to keep the facts fixed ~;It e•l-her JZ(v,,,\
u "' I (>••··o
, . I {.c,~.';
'i )
\\- ~o\ '\ { Ul.' ,
while considering different assignments to variables. (2) [[P(y) AR(x, y)]--7 P(x)] v [P(x) v P(y)]

We now proceed to give a semantics for PC relative to the situa-

tion encoded in M1 and the value assignment to variables g1. We (3) [P(x) --7 Q(y)] A [R(y, y) ~ [Q(x)'y' P(y)]]
Chapter 3 126 Quantification and Logical Form 127

Compute the value in M 1 with respect to g1 of the following t()~every occurrence of Xn in A and leaving the value assigned to all
formulas: othe~_varifl_ble~ ~by ~g1 the same; that is, we evaluate A relative to
g1 [uj xnJ, a function that assigns u to Xn and is otherwise identical to
(4) G(x3,j,x3)
I , ~]we will say more about these modified assignment functions
(5) .P(xt) f--t K(xz, j) below). If for some u, A is false relative to gl[ufxnJ, then we can stop
1 (6) •[G(x1,x1,Xt)----+ j=m]A[•Q(j)AK(j,m)] and conclude that VxnA is false relative to g1 and M 1. If, however, A
comes out true relative to gl[ufxn] for all u, then we can conclude
(7) •ft = j ----+•G(xt,Xt,Xt) that \fxnA is true relative to assignment function g1 and M 1.
0 ( ', I I I
(8) •[[Q(x3)YP(j)] f--t K(m,m)]----+ Xt = m For (21b),_ which interprets the existential quantifier, the idea is
pretty much the same. The difference is that for 3xnA to be true, it
suffices to find some u or other in the domain such that the result of
Let us now turn to the interpretation of formulas with quantifiers, interpreting A by assigning u to Xn gives us the truth value 1. In
which is where the real novelty of the present semantics lies. The, evaluating universals we can stop if any u gives us falsehood; in
basic idea is tha! we look at the formula to wll.ich a quantifier is evaluating existentials we can stop if any u give us truth. Using
attached and consider its values relative to alternative assignments modified assignment functions is the formal analogue of our infor-
to the variable with which the quantifif:)r is~~()}ild.~~ecr:-Afier~we mal conception of alternative paintings for evaluating sentences
present our formal definition and explain it informally, we will like those in (3a-c) as a way to evaluate quantified sentences like
work through some illustrative examples. those in ( 1 ).
(21) a. [VxnA]M,,g, = 1 iff for all u E U, [A]M,,g,[u/xn] = 1, where
The basic trick of our semantics for each quantifier is thus to start
with an assignment function and then modify that function with
gl[ufxn] = g1, except that gl[u/xn](xn) = u
b. [3xnA]M,,g, = 1 iff for some u E U, [A]M,,g,[u/xn] = 1 respect to the value it assigns to the variable coindexed with that

Let us go through (21a) slowly. What (21a) says is that a formula of

the form \fxnA will be true (relative to an assignment function g1
and a model M 1) if and only if the following conditions hold. For
g1 = [x1 ----+ Bond
x 2 ----+ Loren
quantifier. In (17b) we have specified an assignment g1 as follows:

Xn ----+ Pavarotti where n 2 3

each individual u in the domain of M1 we evaluate A by assigning u
Out of g1 we can construct any assignment of a particular variable
to any individual as demanded by the occurrences of quantifiers
Computation of (20) we encounter. For example, we can construct an assignment
(a) [P(m) 1\ Q(x3 )]M,,g, = 1 iff [P(m)]M,,g, = 1 and [Q(xa)]M,,g, = 1 By gl[Bondjx3], which assigns Bond as the value of x 3 and is just
(19b) like g1 in what it assigns to all the other variables. This is the
(b) [P(m)]M,,g, = 1 iff [m]M,,g, E [P]M,,g, By (19a) x 3-modification of g1 with respect to Bond:
(c) [m]M,,g, E [P]M,,g, iff Vi(m) E V1 (P) By (18)
(d) V1 (m) E V1 (P) iff LorenE {Loren, Pavarotti} , By (17a) g 1[Bondjx3] = rx1----+ Bond ]
(e) [Q(x3 )]M,,g, = 1 iff [x3 ]M,,g, E [Q]M,,g, By (19a) Xz----+ Loren
(f) [x3 ]M,,g, E [Q]M,,g, iff gi(x3 ) E Vi(Q) By (18) x 3 ----+ Bond
(g) g1 (x3 ) E V 1 (Q) iffPavarotti E {Bond, Loren} By (17a, b)
Xn ----+ Pavarotti where n 2 4
(h) [P(m) 1\ Q(x3 )]M,,g, = 1 iff LorenE {Loren, Pavarotti} and Pavarotti
E {Bond, Loren} By (a), (d), and (g) Some modifications of assignment functions might be vacuous.
(i) [P(m)]M,,g, = 1 By (b), (c), (d), and definition of set membership
(j) [Q(x3 )]M,,g, = 0 By (e), (f), (g), and definition of set membership
Note for example that gl[Bondjx1] = g1 , since g1 already assigns
(k) [P(m) 1\ Q(x3 )]M,,g, = 0 By (i), (j), and (19b) Bond as the value of x 1 . We also may have to consider (as will be
the case with nested quantifiers) modifications of already modified
Chapter 3 128 Quantification and Logical Form 129

assignments. For example, we might want to take gt[Bond/x3] and

modify it by assigning Loren to x 1. We represent this new function Computation of {221 relative to llf1 and 91
as gt[[Bondjx3]Loren/x1]: (a) [3x1P(xl)]M,g, = 1 iff for some UE ub [P(xl)]M,,g,[ufx,] = 1 By (21b)
(b) Assign Bond to x 1; i.e., consider gi[Bond/x1]
gt[[Bondjx3]Lorenjx1] = rx1 --+Bond (c) [P(x1)]M,,g,[ufx,] =1 iff [xi]M,,g,[ufx,] E [P]M,,g,[ujx,] By (19a)
x 2 --+ Loren (d) [xi]M,,g,[ufx,] E [P]M,,g,[ufx,] iff g1[Bond/x1](x1) E V1(P)
x 3 --+Bond ={Loren, Pavarotti} By (18)
Xn --+ Pavarotti where n 2: 4 (e) gi[Bond/x1](x1) =Bond By definition (21a)
(f) [P(x1)]M,,g,[u/x,] = 1 iff BondE {Loren, Pavarotti} By (c), (d), (e)
What we do is this. First we modify g1 by assigning Bond to x3 and (g) [P(x1)]M,g,[ufx,] = 0 By (f) and definition of set membership
then, keeping that constant, we assign Loren to x 1. Although the (h) Assign Loren to x 1; i.e., consider g1(Loren/x1]
notation can become intimidating, the basic idea is a very simple (i) [P(xl)]M,,g,[Lorenfx,] = 1 iff [xi]M1 ,g,[Loren/x1] E [P]M1 ,g,[Lorenfx1] By
one. (19a)
(j) [xl]M,,g,[Lorenfx,] E [P]M,,g,[Lorenfx,] iff gi[Loren/x1](x1) E V1(P)
In fact, in doing computations we do not need to bother with
={Loren, Pavarotti} By (18)
keeping track of all details of the modified functions. What we (k) gi[Loren/x1](x1) =Loren By definition (21a)
need to know about modified assignment functions in the course (1) [P(x1)]M,,g,[Lorenfx,] = 1 iff LorenE {Loren, Pavarotti} By (i), (j), (k)
of our computing is either told to us by the notation itself or (m) [P(x1)]M,,g,[Lorenfx,] = 1 By (1) and definition of set membership
by the specification of the initial assignment function. The nota- (n) [3x1P(x1)]M,,g, = 1 By (m) and (21b)
tion tells us, e.g., that g1[Pavarotti/x1](x1) = Pavarotti and that
gt[[Pavarotti/x2 ]Loren/x3](x3) =Loren (and also, of course, that
gt[[Pavarotti/x2 ]Loren/x3](x1) = Pavarotti). What about variables as it happens, we could have taken Pavarotti and gotten the same
whose assignment has not been directly modified, the variables not result. Relative to either of those individuals, P(x1) gets the value 1
indicated in the notation? For such variables, we rely on our origi- in our model and thus the existentially quantified formula in (22)
nal assignment function; that is, we know immediately that gets the value 1, as we predicted.
gt[[Pavarotti/x2 ]Lorenjx3](x8 ) = g1(xs) = Pavarotti. The real power of using assignment functions comes when we
Let us look now at a few examples where we will work with consider formulas with multiple quantifiers. Look at (23a). Again,
modified assignments. Let us consider first a sentence with only ; before evaluating it formally, we will consider it intuitively. The
one quantifier. syntactic structure of(23a) can be displayed as in (23b).
(22) 3x1P(x1) (23) a. 'v'x13xzK(x1,xz)
What (22) basically says is that something in the domain satisfies b. 'v'x1 3X2K(xv Xz)
the predicate P. Given the interpretation specified in (17), it says
specifically that something in U1 is hungry. Such a statement is true ~
'v'x13x K(x x 2 1, 2)
in M1, as the set of those individuals satisfying P, those who are
hungry, is not empty in M1. Thus the result of evaluating (22) in M1
should yield the truth value 1. The computation is in the box on the
3x 2 K(x1 , X 2)
\) '; \t I . \~ \• • I))
next page.
When quantifier Qn inch;des Qj in its scope or, as we also say, has
We did the computation in a dumb way by taking Bond as our
scope over Qj, then Qn is said to have wide scope relative to Qj, and
first individual to assign to the coindexed variable. That meant we
Qj is said to have narrow scope relative to Qn. In (23), 'v'x1 has scope
had to do a second evaluation with respect to another member of
over 3x3; in (24) below, we examine the semantic effects of the
our domain. The point is that we do not need to know in advance
opposite scope relations. Formula (23a) says that everything in the
which individual or individuals might satisfy our predicate. We
domain has something that it bears the relation K to, something that
took Loren as our target individual for the second evaluation, but
Chapter 3 130 Quantification and Logical Form 131

it likes. In M1 we see that this is true. Take Bond; he likes himself.

Turning to Loren, we see that she does not like Bond but she does Computation of (23) relative to M1 and 91

like Pavarotti. And finally, Pavarotti likes Loren. Our formal pro- (a) [(23a)] = 1 relative to M1 and g1 iff [3x2 K(x1Jx2 )] = 1 relative to M1
cedure mimics this informal way of evaluating (23a). We work and gi[u/x1] for all u in U1 By (21a)
our way from the outermost layers of syntactic structure inward, (b) [3xzK(xl,xz)] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[u/x1] iff for some u' in U1
[K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[[u/x1]u'/x2 ] By (21b)
applying the corresponding semantic rules as we parse the formula. (c) [K(xbxz)] = 1 relative to M1 and gi[[u/x1]u'/x2 ]
Because our superscripts get hard to read as matters get :more com- iff (gl[[u/xl]u'/xz](xl), g1[[u/x1]u'jx2 ](x2 )) E V1 (K) By (19a)
plex, we will omit them and instead write out "[,8] relative to M (d) [K(xbxz)] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[[u/x1]u'/x2 ] iff (u, u')
E vl (K) = {(Bond, Bond), (Bond, Loren), (Loren, Pavarotti),
and g," where M and g are the model and assignment functions
(Pavarotti, Loren)} By definition of modified assignments,
relevant at a given stage. This is lengthier but a bit easier to process. (c), and (17a)
In the first subbox we focus on Bond and try to find someone he Go to subbox 1 and assign Bond to x 1; i.e., consider gi[Bond/x1].
likes. We try Bond himself, and indeed that works. In the second
subbox we focus on Loren. First we try Bond but find she does
(a) [3xzK(xl,xz)] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[Bond/x1] iff there is
not like him. Next, however, we try Pavarotti and are successful. some u in U such that [K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M 1 and
Finally, we focus on the third member of our domain, Pavarotti. gl[[Bond/x1]u/x2 ] By (21b)
Our first try for someone he might like is Loren, and because he Assign Bond himself also to x 2 ; i.e., consider
does, the computation is successful. In the final step we put to- g1 [[Bond/x1]Bond/x2 ].
gether the results of these three subcomputations and conclude that (b) [K(x1, x 2 )] = 1 relative to M 1 and g1 [[Bond/x1]Bond/x2 ] iff
everyone in our domain does indeed have someone whom they (gi[[Bond/xl]Bond/xz](xl), gi[[Bond/xl]Bond/xz](xz) >E vl (K)
like. By (18) and (19a)
(c) (gl [[Bond/ xl]Bond/ Xz] (xl)' gl [[Bond/ xl]Bond/ Xz] (xz) >E vl (K)
The process of evaluation just illustrated is, of course, tedious. iff (Bond, Bond) E V1 (K) By definition of
Luckily, semanticists do not spend their time doing such compu- g1[[Bond/x1]Bondjx2 ]
tations. In fact (d) in the main box gives us the truth conditions of (d) (Bond, Bond) E vl (K) iff (Bond, Bond) E {(Bond, Bond),
interest (relative to M1 ); it is only in calcuating actual truth values (Bond, Loren), (Loren, Pavarotti), (~avarotti, Loren)} By
that we need to consider particular assignments explicitly. Seman- (e) [3xzK(x1Jxz)] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[Bond/x1] By (a)
ticists do need, however, to know that there is a formal semantics through (d) and definition set membership
for quantification that can treat cases of any complexity whatso-
ever. And what we have outlined can indeed do that. Complicated Go to sub box 2 and assign Loren to x 1; i.e., consider g1 [Loren/x1].
though the computations in the preceding box may seem, they re-
ally are just explicit versions of the rather simple process that we
2 (a) [3x2 K(xbx2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and gl[Loren/x1] iff there is
went through informally before beginning the formal computations. some u in U such that [K(x1, x 2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and
Quantifiers are construed as instructions to check assignments to g1[[Loren/x1]ujx2 ] By (21b)
the variables that they bind: how many assignments must yield a Assign Bond to x 2 ; i.e., consider gi[[Loren/x1]Bond/x2 ]].
value of 1 is what each quantifier specifies. How many we need (b) [K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M 1 and g1[[Loren/x1]Bond/x2 ]
actually consider may depend on where we happen to start. In the iff (g1 [[Loren/x1]Bondjx2 ](x1), g1[[Lorenjx1]Bond/x2 ](x1))
worst-case scenario the number of assignments that must be con- E V1 (K) By (18) and (19a)
sidered is the number of elements in the universe raised to the (c) (g1[[Lorenjx1]Bondjx2 ](x1), g1[[Loren/x1]Bond/x2 ](x1))
E V1 (K) iff (Loren, Bond) E {(Bond, Bond), (Bond, Loren),
power n, where n is the number of distinct variables bound by the (Loren, Pavarotti), (Pavarotti, Loren)}
quantifiers. In the relatively simple example above, this was 3 2 = 9. (d) [K(x1,x2 )] = 0 relative to M1 and g1[[Loren/x1]Bond/x2 ] By
We actually considered only four. The first was with Bond assigned (b), (c), and definition of set membership
to both x 1 and x 2 , that is, gl[[Bond/x1 ]Bond/x2 ], which is what we
Quantification and Logical Form 133

finally in subbox 3 we assigned Pavarotti to x 1 and Loren to x 2 -

Assign Pavarotti to x 2 ; i.e., consider gt[[Loren/xt]Pavarotti/xz]. this was g1[[Pavarotti/x 1]Loren/x 2 ].
(e) [K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[[Loren/xt]Pavarotti/xz] It is clear that matters could quickly get out of hand were we to
iff (g1[[Loren/x1]Pavarotti/xz](x1), consider longer nestings of quantifiers or larger domains of dis-
gt[[Loren/x1]Pavarotti/x2 ](x1)) E V 1 (K) By (18) and (19a)
(f) (g1[[Loren/ x 1]Pavarotti/Xz] (x1 ),
course. But it is also clear that.this limitation is only due to the
gt[[Loren/ Xt]Pavarotti/ Xz] (xt) >E vl (K) iff (Loren, Pavarotti) limited character of our psychophysical resources (memory, life
E {(Bond, Bond), (Bond, Loren), (Loren, Pavarotti), span, etc.). The procedure we have specified will eventually yield a
(Pavarotti, Loren)} By definition of truth value for each formula if we abstract away from such limits,
gt[[Loren/x1]Pavarotti/x2 ] and (17a)
(g) [3x2 K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[Loren/x1] By (e) that is, if we imagine being able to extend our memory space, for
through (f) and definition of set membership example, indefinitely. Compare our semantics for quantifiers with
the algorithm for computing addition. Two numbers can well be too
Go to subbox 3 and assign Pavarotti to x1; i.e., consider gt[Pavarotti/x1]. big to be added by any human. Yet (for finite domains) the algo-
rithm for addition will eventually yield a value if we let it run for a
sufficiently long time. We do not intend to suggest that people
3 (a) [3x2 K(xt, x 2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and g1[Pavarotti/x1] iff there
is some u in U such that [K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and actually use the computational procedures specified above but
gt[[Pavarotti/x1]u/ Xz] only that these procedures show the structure of their semantic
Assign Loren to x 2 ; i.e., consider g1[[Pavarotti/x1]Loren/x2 ]. competence.
(b) [K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and gt[[Pavarotti/xt]Loren/xz] Readers might want to familiarize themselves more with these
iff (gt[[Pavarotti/x1]Loren/xz](Xt), techniques by evaluating a few more formulas. Consider, for ex-
g1[[Pavarotti/x1]Loren/xz](xz)) E V 1 (K) By (19a) and (18) ample, (24):
(c) (g1[[Pavarotti/x1]Loren/xz](x1),
gl [[Pavarotti/ Xt]Loren/ Xz] (xz) >E vl (K) iff (Pavarotti, Loren) (24) 3xz'fx1K(x1,xz)
E {(Bond, Bond), (Bond, Loren), (Loren, Pavarotti),
(Pavarotti, Loren)} By definition of Formula (24) is the result of permuting the quantifiers in formula
g1[[Pavarotti/x1]Loren/x2 ] and (17a) (23a). For (24) to be true, we have got to find some u E U1 such that
(d) [3x2 K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to M1 and gt[Pavarotti/xt] By (a) all u' in U 1 bear the K-relation to u. Given our particular model,
through (c) and definition of set membership
there must be some individual who is universally liked. That is, we
must find some u in U1 such that [Vx1K(x1,x2 )] = 1 relative to rel-
Conclusion: [(23a)] = 1 relative to M1 and g1 By (a) through (c) and ative to M 1 and gi[u/x2 ]; to return to our superscript notation, we
subboxes 1, 2, and 3
need a u such that [Vx1K(x1,x2 )]M,,g1[u/xz] = 1. (To save space, we
will return to using the superscript notation from now on to indi-
cate the model and assignment function to which interpretation is
used in the subbox 1 computation. The second and third we used relativized.) But there is no such u. To see this, consider that
in subbox 1; both of these assigned Loren to x 1 but one assigned [Vx1K(x1' Xz)]M,,gl[Bond/xz] 0,
Bond to x 2 -this was gi[[Lorenjx1]Bond/x2 ]-and the other as-
signed Pavarotti to x 2 -this was g1[[Loren/x1]Pavarott/x2 ]. In this since
subbox, the assignment g1[[Lorenjx1]Bondjx2 ] yielded 0 for the [K(xl, Xz)]M1 ,g1 [[Bond/x2 ]Lorenjx1 ] = O.
unquantified formula K(x1 , x 2 ) and thus did not help us determine
whether 3x2 K(x1,x2 ) was true relative to gi[Lorenjx1], which is Similarly,
what we were investigating at that point (whether there was some- [Vx1K(x1,Xz))]M,g,[Loren/xz[ = 0,
one Loren liked). That's why we had to look at the effects of as-
signing someone else-we chose Pavarotti-as the value of x 2 • And
[K(xl,Xz)]M1,gl[[Bondjx2 ]Loren/x1 ) = O.
Quantification and Logical Form 135

And finally, Evaluate the following formulas in M2 , with respect to g2 , showing

the crucial steps.
[ \./vX1 K( x1,Xz )]M1 ,g,[Pavarotti/x2 ] 0,
(11) G(x1,xz,x3)
[K(xl, Xz) ]M~>g,[[Pavarotti/x2 ]Bondjx1 ] O. (12) Vx1G(x1, j,x1)

(13) --,P(m) t-t Q(m)

Thus, (26) is false in M1.
(14) Vxz3x3[G(xl,xz,x3)vxz =m]

Exercise 4 Consider a model M2 = <ll2 , V2 ) such that the following hold:

It is important to note that it will not matter at all which assign-
lJ2 = {0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9} ment we begin with in evaluating (24), (22), or (23a). Although g1
Vz(j) =0 was in the background, we never actually used it to assign variable
values entering into our calculations. We used only the modified
Vz(m) =9
assignment functions. This contrasts sharply with what we did in
V2 (P) =the odd numbers in ll2 = {1, 3, 5, 7, 9} evaluating (20), P(m) 1\ Q(x3), where x 3 is free. Its interpretation
V2 (Q) =the numbers in ll2 whose representation in standard crucially depends on the assignment, in a way reminiscent of how
arabic notation Pavarotti could recognize by his third the interpretation of sentences with pronouns depends on a con-
birthday= {0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8} textually specified way of getting at the intended referent. Notice,
in particular, that in (g) of the boxed computation following (20),
V 2 (K) =the set of pairs <x, y) of elements of ll2 such that xis we relied crucially on the fact that g1(x3) = Pavarotti. There is no
less than or equal to y 1 ~ J quantifier in (20) that would permit us to modify variable assign-
V2 (G) =the set of ordered triples <x, y,z) of elements of lJ2 such ments, whereas in (23a) each variable comes with an instruction,
that x+ y = z provided by the quantifier, to consider modified assignments (i.e.,
each variable is bound). This should make it clear how the syn-
Furthermore, let g 2 (x1) = 1, g 2 (x2 ) = 5, gz(x3) = 6, and for all n ~ 4, tactic notions of free and bound variables are linked directly to
g 2 (xn) = 2. What do the following formulas say in English, and semantic dependencies. We will see shortly in exactly what sense.
what is their truth value in M 2 ? The notion that we have defined for formulas is "true with re-
(1) Vx13x2 [K(xl,xz) 1\ --,xl = Xz] spect to a model and an assignment." Tarski's original notion was
that of "satisfaction of a formula by an assignment." If a formula
(2) 3x1[Q(x1) 1\ --,P(xl)] 1\ 3xt[Q(x1) /\P(xl)]
does contain syntactically free variables, it can only be true or false
(3) Vx1[[P(x1) 1\ --,xl = m] ----> Q(x1)] with respect to an assignment. But when a formula contains no free
variables, as noted above in connection with (23a), it will get a
(4) Vxt[Q(x1) ----> [P(x1) 1\ --,xl = m]]
value independently of which particular assignment is chosen. It
(5) Vx1[--,Q(x1)----> [x1 = m/\3xzG(xz,Xz,x1)]] follows that if a formula without free variables is true with respect
(6) 3xt[G(x1,xl,x1) 1\ Vxz[G(xz,Xz,Xz) t-t Xz x1]] to an assignment, it will be true with respect to all assignments.
And if it is false with respect to an assignment, it will be false with
( 7) Vx1Vxz[G(xz,x1,x1) t-t Xz = j] respect to all assignments. This is simply because which particular
(8) 3xdx2 3x3 --,[G(xl,xz,x3) t-t G(xz,x1,x3)] assignment we start with does not enter in any relevant way into
the computation of the value of the formula. The semantic rule for
(9) --,3x1 --,K(x1,x1)
interpreting quantifiers guarantees that we confine our attention to
(10) Vx1VxzVx3[G(x1,xz,x3)----> [K(xz,x3) 1\ --,xz = x3]] assignments that are modified with respect to the variables co-
Quantification and Logical Form 137

indexed with the c-commanding quantifiers. We can exploit this that (under plausible syntactic assumptions and a simple interpre-
fact to define truth formally. tive procedure) turns out to have a natural semantic counterpart?
And is this the best way of understanding how quantification works
(25) a. A formula A is true in a model Miff for any assignment g,
[A]M,g = 1.
in natural language? These are the sort of questions that will be
taken up in the next sections. Ev.en though we will not be able to
b. A formula A is false in Miff for any assignment g,
[A]M,g = 0. provide definite answers, we believe that one can learn a lot by
pursuing them.
Thus, by this definition, [(23a)]M' = 1; more simply, in M1, (23a) is The semantics for PC is made up of three components: the
true. Any formula without free variables that is true with respect to assignment to variables, a characterization of the class of models,
a model M and an assignment g is simply true with respect to M; and the recursively specified semantic rules. The structure of the
that is, assignments do not matter to the truth of a formula unless models of PC is quite simple. Any structure of the following form
there are free variables in the formula. will qualify as a model for PC:
We are now able to see the interest of the syntactic definitions of
(27) M = (U, V), where U is a set of individuals, and Vis a
bondage and freedom given in section 1.1. 1. The value of a formula
function such that if cis an individual constant, V(c) E U, and
¢ in a model M may or may not depend on what an assignment g
if cis ann-place predicate, V(c) is a set of ordered n-tuples
assigns to a variable x;. If it does, in view of how the interpretation
of elements drawn from u. In symbols, V(c) <;; u1 X X Un,
0 0

of PC is set up, it must be because x; is syntactically free in ¢; if it

where u1 X 0
X Un, the Cartesian product of u times itself n
0 0

does not, it must be because x; is syntactically bound. 4 We can ex-

times, is the set of all ordered n-tuples built on U. (See the
ploit this fact in defining what it is to be semantically free (or
appendix for an explanation of Cartesian products.)
The content of the model (that is, the particular choice of a uni-
(26) a. The occurrence of a variable x; in a formula¢ is
verse of discourse and the way it is carved up into suitable ex-
semantically free iff for some M and some g the value of¢
tensions for predicative and individual constants) may vary. The
in Mmay vary depending on what g assigns to x;.
recursive part of the semantics then provides a way of computing
b. The occurrence of a variable x; in a formula ¢ is
the truth values of sentences of indefinite complexity relative to a
semantically bound iff the value of¢ in a model M relative
model. This represents how the semantics for PC provides a way of
to an assignment g does not change no matter how we vary
determining the truth values of sentences across different circum-
what g assigns to x;.
stances (which are represented here by different particular models).
So we wind up with two notions of bondage and freedom. One uses A semantics for more complex constructions is generally specified
syntactic terms (indices and c-command); the other semantic ones in this same format.
(values in a model relative to assignments). Now, it can be shown We can now proceed to define entailment, logical equivalence,
(though we will not do that here) that there is a virtually perfect 1
validity, and contradiction along the li.nes familiar from the pre-
correspondence between the two; that is, (the occurrence of) a ceding chapter.
variable is syntactically bound iff it is semantically bound, and is
('I (28) a. A set of formulas Q entails a formula P iff for every model
syntactically free iff it is semantically free (but see note 4). This is
M such that [S]M = 1 for every oEn, [p]M = 1.
due, of course, to how PC is set up, and it justifies talking of free or
b. A formula pis logically equivalent to a formula oiff P
bound variables without further specification.
entails oand vice versa (that is, iff they are true in exactly
We are interested in applying the PC treatment of quantification
the same models).
to the study of English quantificational structures. It would be
\)u),c\ ,\ j c. A formula pis valid iff for every model M, [p]M = 1.
interesting if a similar correspondence between syntactic and
G~, 1\--(euA- \C\\0\\ d. A formula pis contradictory iff for every model M,
semantic notions of binding could be established for natural
[p]M = 0,
language. Can one define a syntactic notion of binding for English
Quantification and Logical Form 139

Given our semantics for PC and the definitions in (19) and (28), a
number of entailments will automatically be allowed. The entail- Proof that (30) entails (29)
ments in the semantics for F 1 had to do with the relations among (a) Let M = (U, V) be any model such that [(30)]M = 1 By assump-
conjunction, disjunction, and negation, and PC has parallel entail- tion
(b) For every g, [3xP(x)]M,g = 0 From (a), by the definition of truth in
ments. The new entailments that fall out of the semantics for PC (25) and the semantics of---, in (19!)
concern the relations among quantifiers and sentential connectives. (c) There is no u E U such that [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (b), by the
Because we are generalizing over all models for PC, it is only the definition of g[ujx]
interpretation of these logical constants that remains fixed, and (d) For all u E U, [P(x)]M,g[ufx] = 0 From (c)
(e) For all u E U, [-,P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (d) and the semantics of---,
thus the only entailments we derive are those that depend solely on in(19f)
them. This is as it should be for PC, but when we turn to fragment (f) [Vx-,P(x)]M,g = 1 From (e), by the semantics of V in (21a)
F 2 , we will generalize only over models that interpret our constants
as they are interpreted in English.
Let us now look at some of the entailments involving quantifiers
and sentential connectives in PC. First, let us show that (29) entails
Proof that (31) entails (32)
(30) and vice versa.
(a) Let Mbe any model such that for all g, [(31)]M,g = 1 By
(29) l;fx--,P(x) assumption
(b) For all u E U, [P(x)-> Q(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (a), by the semantics
(30) --,3xP(x) for V in (21a)
(c) For all u E U, [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 0 or [Q(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (c), by
Thus starting with the assumption that (29), Vx--,P(x), is true rela- the semantics for-> in (17d)
tive to some arbitrary M and g, we arrived at the conclusion that (d) Either there is some u E U such that [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 0 (we explore
(30), --,3xP(x), is also true relative to the same arbitrary model M this possibility in (e)) or there is not (this possibility is explored in
and assignment g. We never used the specific content of M or g. (e) i. Assume that there is some u E U such that [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 0
Therefore, we have shown that (29) entails (30). Let us go in the ii. [VxP(x)]M,g = 0 From (e.i), by the semantics for V in (21a)
other direction. Again, our proof holds for arbitrary M and g, and iii. [(32)]M,g = 1 From (e.ii), by the semantics for-> in (19d). (The
thus we show in the next box that (30) entails (29). So we have formula in (e.ii) is the antecedent of the conditional in (32), and
conditionals with false antecedents are automatically true.)
shown on the basis of the two boxed proofs that (29) and (30) are
(f) i. Assume that there is no u E U such that [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 0
logically equivalent. This equivalence is one that is often useful. ii. [VxP(x)]M,g = 1 From (f.i), by the semantics for V in (21a)
iii. For all u E U, [Q(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (c) and (f.ii)
iv. [VxQ(x)]M,g = 1~ From (fiii), by the semantics for V in (21a)
v. [(32)]M,g = 1 From (fiv) and the semantics for-> in (19d).
Proof that (29) entails (30)
(The formula in (fii) is the consequent of the conditional in
(a) Let M = (U, V) be any model such that [(29)]M = 1 By (31), and conditionals with true consequents are automatically
assumption true.)
(b) For every assignment g, [(29)]M,g = 1 From (a), by definition of (g) [(32)]M,g = 1 From (a) through (f)
truth in (25)
(c) For all u E U, [-,P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (b), by the semantics for V in
(d) For all u E U, [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 0 From (c), by the semantics for---, in
(e) There is no u E U such that [P(x)]M,g[u/x] = 1 From (d)
(f) [3xP(x)]M,g = 0 From (e), by the semantics for 3 in (21b)
(g) [-,3xP(x)]M,g = 1 From (f), by the semantics for---, in (19/)
Chapter 3 140
Quantification and Logical Form 141

(4) a. 3x[P(x) A Q(x)]

Model showing (321 does not entail (311 b. 3xP(x) A 3xQ(x)
(a) Let M' = <U', V') such that U' = {a,b}, V'(P) ={a}, and V'(Q)
= {b}, and let g by any assignment function. (5) a. Vx[P(x) v Q(x)]
(b) [P(x)]M',g[b/x] = o By (a), (19a), and the definition of g[b/x] in (21a) b. VxP(x) v VxQ(x)
(c) [VxP(x)]M' = 0 From (b) and the semantics for If in (21a)
(d) [(32)]M' = 1 From (c) and the semantics for--> in (19d). ((c) is the (6) a. 3x[P(x) v Q(x)]
antecedent of the conditional in (31).) b. 3xP(x) v 3xQ(x)
(e) [P(x) __, Q(x)]M',g[a/x] = 0 From (a) and the semantics for--> in
(19d). (Note that when (a) is assigned as the value of x,P(x) = 1 and (7) a. Vxt3XzK(xt,Xz)
Q(x) = 0.) , b. 3xz Vx1K(x1, Xz)
(f) [Vx[P(x)--> Q(x)]]M' = [(31)]M = 0 By (e) and the semantics for If
in (21a) C. What do you think would be the fastest way to compute the
(g) M' is a model relative to which (32) is true and (31) false truth value of the formula below?

(8) [Vx3yL(x, y) v 3z[L(z, z) A z =1 j]] A 3yVxL(x, y)

Now let us show that (31) entails (32) but not vice versa.
It should be noted that the syntax of PC allows for vacuous
(31) Vx[P(x)-> Q(x)]
binding of variables. So, for example, (33a, b) are as well formed as
(32) VxP(x) -> VxQ(x) (33c, d):

What we did in the preceding box was to assume that (31) is true (33) a. 3xP(y)
relative to some (arbitrary) model M and assignment g and then to b. VxP(j)
show that (32) also had to be true relative toM and g and thus that c. P(y)
(31) entails (32), by the definition of entailment in (27a). Next we d. P(j)
want to show that (32) does not entail (31). To show nonentailment,
But natural languages generally want their quantifiers to do some
we have to find a model where (32) is true but (31) is false, which
work; sentences like "Every cat is such that the grass is green"
we do in the next box. Finding one such model works because of
sound quite odd. It turns out, however, that the semantics that we
our definition of entailment, which says that (32) entails (31) only if
have provided makes (33a, b) logically equivalent to (33c, d), re-
for any model relative to which (32) is true, then (31) is also true.
spectively. The quantifiers in (33a, b) make no contribution to the
The model M' given in the box below thus shows that (32) does not
content of the formula they operate on; they are semantically void.
entail (31).
To see this, consider the model M and an assignment g such that
[(33a)]M,g = 1, This can be so ifffor some u E U, [P(y)]M,g[u/x] = 1,
which is the case iff g[u/x](y) E V(P). But g[u/x](y) = g(y) because
Exercise 5 A. Show that the following pairs are equivalent:
g[ujx] is defined to be just like gin the value it assigns to all varia-
(1) a. VxP(x) bles other than x and thus of course in the value it assigns to y. In
b. -dxrP(x) other words, if g(y) E V(P), then for any u E U, g[ujx](y) E V(P).
(2) a. 3xP(x) That is, whether P(y) holds is not going to depend on what one
b . • vx.P(x) assigns to x. Parallel reasoning shows that if (33c) is true, so is
(33a). Thus formulas containing vacuous quantifiers turn out to
B. Show whether the following pairs are logically equivalent: have the same truth conditions as the corresponding formulas
(3) a. Vx[P(x) A Q(x)] without them. This is just a technical convenience and is not im-
b. VxP(x) A VxQ(x) portant for our purposes, given that English an<! ()theJ:)(liigl}ag~sdq
~_o_tuse vacuous quantificati.o11.
Chapter 3 142
Quantification and Logical Form 143

1.2 Quantification in PC versus quantification in English c. Mary read every book assigned last semester, if any were
Quantification in PC bears a connection with quantification in assigned.
English, but the connection is not straightforward. For example,
given our semantics for PC, how would you express some of the If you·tell us that no students are registered in Joan's seminar, we
most normal quantificationallocutions of English, such as those in will not conclude that (37a) is thereby rendered false; no one
(34)? would respond to an utterance' of (37a) with "No, that's false be-
cause no students registered," although one might respond, "Yes,
(34) a. Some odd number is less than 9. but only because there are no students registered." Certainly it
b. Every odd number is less than 9. seems odd to utter (37a) in a context in which it is apparent that
c. (At least) two odd numbers are less than 9. there are no students registered. The degree of oddity associated
d. (Exactly) two odd numbers are less than 9. with universal quantifiers whose domain is potentially empty
For concreteness, let us adopt the model M2 for PC described in seems to vary significantly; (37b) seems not so bad, and (37c) is
exercise 4, and let us further adopt the following simplifying con- fine, even though it explicitly allows for the possibility that the
ventions: domain is empty. So when we say evezy student, we generally
(though not always) take for granted or presuppose that there are
(35) a. is an odd number= P
some. That this piece of information should not be part ofthe truth-
b. is less than=< (where \fx\fy[x < y +--+ [K(x, y) /\Xi= y])
conditional meaning of sentences like (36a-c) is supported by its
Standard practice is to render (34a-d) as (36a-d). removeability. (See chapter 4, section 5, for discussion of similar
(36) a. 3x[P(x) 1\X < m]
Consider next (36c). It says that there are at least two distinct
b. \fx[P(x) ----) x < m]
things that are odd numbers and less than 9. The truth-conditional
c. 3x3y[x i= y 1\ P(x) 1\ P(y) 1\ x < m 1\ y < m]
equivalence of (34c) and (36c) appears uncontroversial.
d. 3x3y[[x i= y 1\ P(x) 1\ P(y) 1\ x < m 1\ y < m]
Finally, consider (36d). It says that there are two distinct things
1\ Vz[[P(z) 1\ x < m] ----) x = z v y = z]]
that are odd numbers and less than 9, and furthermore that any-
Sentence (36a) literally says that there is something that is an odd thing that is an odd number and less than 9 must be identical to one
number and it is less than 9. It seems uncontroversial that if this is ofthose two things. This makes (36d) false in every situation where
true, then some odd number is less than 9, and vice versa. Thus there aren't exactly two odd numbers less than 9. The philosopher
(36a) and (34a) appear to have the same truth conditions, which in -y Bertrand Russell proposed that the definite article expresses the
some sense justifies using (36a) as a PC rendering of(34a). The same same sort of quantificational import: it says that there is one and
point can be made, perhaps less smoothly, with respect to (36b). only one thing that satisfies the nominal expression to which it is
This says that if anything is an odd number, it is also less than 9. attached. In (38b) we give a Russellian rendering of (38a).
This does seem~ to be synonymous in content with (34b); we can-
( 38) a. The present queen of England is tall.
not think of any situation where one of (34b) and (36b) would be
b. 3x[PQE(x) 1\ Vy[PQE(y) +--+ y = x] 1\ tall(x)]
false and the other true. The only controversial case is a situation
where there aren't any odd numbers in the domain. In this case our Take a situation where England has two queens: Elizabeth V and
semantics for PC predicts that (36b) is true. What truth value the Mary III. In such a situation the second conjunct of (38b) would be
English sentence (34b) receives, however, is not quite so clear-cut. false, for not every queen of England is identical with Mary, nor is
Let us consider some further English examples: every queen of England identical with Elizabeth.
Russell's analysis of the definite article has been widely dis-
(37) a. Every student registered in Joan's seminar is a genius.
cussed and is by no means universally endorsed. If someone were
b. Every holder of a winning ticket receives a prize; the
to utter (38a) at a time when there is no queen of England or when
problem is that no one ever holds a winning ticket.
there are two queens of England, listeners might well think that the
Quantification and Logical Form 145

utterance simply did not come off rather than that it expressed predicates are interpreted just as in English (that is, the extension
something false. For this reason, use of the definite article is often of man is the set of those individuals in the domain who are men,
said, as we mentioned in chapter 1, to presuppose that there is ex- the extension of smoke is those who smoke, and the extension of
actly one individual entity satisfying the nominal expression to get sick is those who get sick). Give formulas of PC that have the
which it is attached. (See chapter 6 for further discussion of pre- same truth conditions as the following English sentences.
supposition.) Even this, however, seems to need some qualification.
(6) More than two but fewer than five men smoke.
We clearly have to extend the analysis so that it can accommodate
the use of the definite article with mass nouns (the snow) and plu- ( 7) Only men smoke.
rals (the cats), neither of which are yet encompassed by our analy- (8) No man smokes.
sis, and we also need to show how to interpret sentences like (39),
in which the subject noun phrase may seem to presuppose a unique (9) If someone smokes, she or he gets sick.
cat but the prepositional-object noun phrase makes the non- (10) No more than one man smokes.
uniqueness of that cat explicit.
(39) The cat hissed at the other cats she saw at the vet's.
In English and other natural languages, quantifying expressions
There are other issues that we cannot explore here. There are also like every and some are always accompanied by nominal expres-
some ways to defend Russellian analyses in the face of facts like sions that seem intuitively to restrict the universe of discourse to
those mentioned above. For our purposes in this text, however, individuals to which the nominal applies. We noted this in passing
we will simply assume the Russellian account without further in our early informal discussion of sentences containing ex-
discussion. 5 1\rJ(\\ f\(< \
pressions like every cat or some cat. Even in maximally generic
/•'1 ~·I,)(\
Notice that in writing formula (38b), we have added the one- wotds like everything or someone, every and some are affixed to
place predicate PQE to the vocabulary of PC; obviously, we are the nouns thing or one, respectively. In PC, however, we see that
interested in models where PQE is interpreted in the same way as expressions like cat (or thing) have to be represented by a pre-
the English expression is presently queen of England. From now dicate. Sentences like (40a, c) will be represented as in (40b, d),
on, we will freely add predicates to PC that correspond to English respectively.
expressions when we want to use PC formulas to represent the
( 40) a. Every cat prowls.
truth conditions for English sentences.
b. Vx(cat(x) _, prowl(x)]
c. Some cat prowls.
d. 3x(cat(x) A prowl(x)]
Exercise 6 A. Assume M2 as r. model, and express the following sentences of
English in PC. Notice that representations of this kind do not make explicit our
( 1) Everything is odd or not odd. intuition that cat is playing quite a different role from prowl. Notice
also that the formulas of PC change not only the quantifier but also
(2) For every n, the thing that yields n when added ton is 0. the connective in the complex formula over which the quantifier
(3) Everything is greater than or equal to itself. has scope; in contrast, the English sentences differ only in the
quantifying expression used. There is a way to make the depen-
(4) For every number n, the result of adding n to 9 is greater than
dence of the quantifier on the nominal explicit; its further advan-
or equal to 9. "·' ' tage is that we need no longer use connectives in translating simple
(5) Everything has something greater than it. sentences like (40a, c). In (41a, b) we represent (40a, c) using what
is called restricted quantification.
B. Add man, smoke, and get sick to PC as one-place predicates
(members of the category Predl), and assume models where these
Quantification and Logical Form 147

(41) a. (Vx: cat(x))prowl(x) how we match quantificational English sentences with their truth
b. (3x: cat(x))prowl(x) conditions in a more systematic or compositional way. The next
section is devoted to this issue.
In logics that use quantification of this type, the range of quanti-
";' /', ;, \\ ~ ,, \
l fiers is restricted to those individuals that satisfy the formula im-
mediately following the quantifying expression, "cat(x)" in (41).
2 Quantification in English
The quantifiers are then interpreted as before: they require that
We have been assuming that semantic interpretation is driven by
(a) all or (b) some of the assignments of values to x that satisfy the
syntactic structure. We now want to look at how quantificational
restricting formula must also satisfy what follows, "prowl(x)" in
expressions can be compositionally interpreted, which means that
( 40). If we confine our attention to the quantifiers that we have
we have to look at what the syntax of English tells us about quan-
considered so far, then we can say exactly the same thing whether
tifier scope. Here we run into an interesting problem.
we use restricted or unrestricted quantification. A difference seems
In discussing the syntax and semantics of PC, we said that an
to emerge, however, when we turn to examine expressions like
occurrence of a variable Xn is bound iff it is c-commanded by a
most. It can be shown that a quantifier like most cannot be repre-
quantifier of the form Qxn; the syntactic definition we gave of
sented in PC. To see this, consider what one might try to substitute
binding was chosen to coincide with the semantic notion of a bound
for the question mark in (42b) so that (42b) has the same truth con-
variable as independent of particular assignments. More generally,
ditions as (42a). It is easy to verify that neither ----t nor 1\ will do.
we defined the scope of a quantifier as what it c-commands which
Yet (42c) does the job well if we interpret most as telling us that, ' '
in our semantics, will include any variable it might bind and may
say, more than half the assignments from the restricted domain of
also include other quantifiers and operators with which its inter-
cats are also assignments for which "prowl(x)" is true.
pretation interacts. The syntax of PC is designed to express scope
(42) a. Most cats prowl. relations unambiguously: if quantifier Q1 is in the scope of Q2 , then
b. most x[cat(x) ? prowl(x)] the interpretation of Q1 is in some sense embedded within or de-
c. (most x: cat(x)) prowl(x) pendent on that of Qz, as we saw in calculating truth conditions.
These observations have made some linguists conclude that Unfortunately, in English overt syntactic dominance does not pro-
using a notation with restricted quantifiers is more convenient for vide a reliable guide to semantic dominance.
semantic purposes. While that might be right, it should also be
noted that, as we will see, PC turns out to be in need of mod-
Exercise 7 In exercise 2 you provided a definition of bound and free variables
ifications on various other counts if it (or its semantics) is to be
used for linguistic purposes. Such independently needed mod- applicable to the PC syntax specified in (15). How would you de-
ifications of PC turn out to allow expression of most and similar fine the scope of a quantifier for that same syntax?
quantifiers, and thus we see no compelling argument for (or
against) the use of restricted quantification for PC itself. 6
You may remember that in chapter 1 we briefly discussed some
To sum up, PC seems capable of expressing many of the quanti-
examples of scope ambiguity. For example, sentences like (43a)
ficational constructions that one finds in natural language. What we
appear to be semantically ambiguous. The two readings that (43a)
mean by this is that formulas of PC appear to have the same truth
seems to have can be represented by the two formulas (43b, c):
conditions (appear to describe the same situations) as sentences of
English (relative to a suitable interpretation of the lexical items). (43) a. Everyone loves someone.
This claim is simply based, however, on matching our intuitions b. Vx3y[love(x, y)]
about English sentences against the truth conditions explicitly c. 3yVx[love(x, y)]
associated with formulas of PC. The problem that we next face is
Quantification and Logical Form 149

In (43b) the existential quantifier associated with the direct object

in (43a) is in the scope of the universal quantifier associated with

the subject. In this situation we say that the universal quantifier has )
wide scope, the existential quantifier narrow scope. Formula (43b)
says that everyone loves some person or other. In (43c) the opposite
is true; the existential quantifier has wide scope, the universal
quantifier narrow scope. Formula (43c) says that there is (at least)
Figure 3.1
one person that everybody loves.
In chapter 2, F1 allowed distinct syntactic structures to corre-
(46) With what did John hit a boy?
spond to a single surface string; by interpreting structures rather
than strings, we could assign a single interpretation to each sen- Introductory syntax textbooks provide abundant discussions of
tential structure and at the same time allow multiple interpreta- such cases.
tions for syntactically ambiguous strings. Many English strings of It is far less clear, however, that the string in (43a) is associated
words can be shown to be associated with distinct structures on with distinct syntactic structures corresponding to formulas
syntactic grounds alone; frequently the distinct syntactic struc- (43b, c). The problem here is that independent syntactic evidence
tures are associated with distinct interpretations, as we mentioned that there are distinct structures associated with (43a) is not so easy
in chapter 1. Various constituency tests can be used to justify the to come by. In particular, no simple-minded (surface) constituency
assumption that (44a), for example, has the two structures shown test, like the ones illustrated in (45) and (46), appears to be able to
in (44b, c). detect ambiguities of any kind.
(44) a. John hit a boy with a pair of binoculars. One might try to argue, as has been done in, for example, Rein-
b. [John hit [NP a boy with a pair of binoculars]] hart (1979), that there is no ambiguity in (43a), on the grounds that
c. [John hit [NP a boy][pp with a pair of binoculars)) the two readings are not logically independent: (43c) entails (43b)
(but not vice versa). This means that the set of circumstances where
In (44b) the prepositional phrase (PP) forms a constituent with and (43b) obtains is a proper superset of the set of circumstances where
semantically modifies the NP a boy; in (44c) it does not form a (43c) obtains, as is shown in figure 3.1.
constituent with the NP a boy; it modifies the V hit. (We leave it In chapter 2 a similar situation came up in connection with
open as to whether the PP in (44c) is attached to the VP or the S.) exclusive versus inclusive or, and we used it to argue against the
These hypotheses can be confirmed in various ways. For example, ambiguity of or. By parallel reasoning we could argue that (43a) is
under the assumption that only equal categories can conjoin, one semantically associated with the more general reading (43b). The
would expect that [NP a boy with a pair of binoculars] in (44b) could more specific reading, where the loved one happens to be the same
conjoin with other NPs and that the result should be semantically for everybody, is not thereby excluded and can be the intended one
unambiguous. This is indeed so. under suitable contextual conditions.
(45) John hit a dog, a boy with a pair of binoculars, and a girl. To implement this view, one must claim that some principle
fixes the scope of quantifiers so that no scope ambiguity arises. For
Sentence (45) can only mean that John hit a dog, a boy who was
instance, on the basis of examples like (43a) one could claim that
carrying a pair of binoculars, and a girl. quantifiers are interpreted in their linear left-to-right order (in
Furthermore, on the assumption that one cannot extract PPs out
terms of c-commanding at the surface structure, the c-commanding
of NPs, only in (44c) should we be able to question the PP. Thus
quantifier has wide scope, as in Reinhart's proposal). The problem
one would expect the result of questioning the PP to be unam-
is, however, that any such principle should provide a procedure
biguously associated with the reading (44c). Again, this seems to
that always associates the most general reading with a certain
be so: sequence of quantifiers, in the way that the principles just men-
Quantification and Logical Form 151

tioned do with respect to (43a). But this does not seem very likely,
as the following examples suggest:
(47) a. There was a name tag near every plate.
b. A flag was hanging in front of every window. 7
c. A student guide took every visitor to two museums.
In (4 7 a, b) the preferred reading is not the one that one would ex-
pect in terms of the left-to-right (or c-command) condition. Such a
principle would assign a name tag (or a flag) wide scope over
every plate (every window), which yields the more restrictive of the Figure 3.2
two possible readings. Thus the reading where every plate (every
window) has wide scope, the preferred one, cannot be derived by
means of (48b). That is, (48b) could well be true in the scenario we
appealing to contextual or pragmatic factors. A mechanism for
just set up. (If you have trouble getting this interpretation for (48b),
assigning wide scope to the rightmost NPs seems to be needed.
try uttering the sentence with focal stress on not and with the em-
Furthermore, in (4 7 c), of all six possible quantifier construals, the
bedded sentence carrying no focal stresses.) However, notice that
most general one (the one entailed by all the others) is the one
(48b') would be false in such a scenario, for everyone does love one
where the second quantifier has scope over the other two. It is dif-
of my friends or another. So the proposal we have considered
ficult to see what principle could account for cases like those in
seems to predict that a certain reading is absent from (48b), con-
both (43) and (47).
trary to what appear to be the facts.
Perhaps one way to rescue the idea that sentences like (43) are
One can see what goes wrong with such a proposal by examining
unambiguous might be the following: in interpreting a sentence,
its logic again, which goes as follows. The two alleged readings of a
always assign wide scope to every and narrow scope to some, two,
sentence like (49a) stand in the relation shown in (49b).
etc. But this too appears to run into difficulties. Consider the
following: (49) a. Everyone loves someone.
b. 3\i ----7 V3
(48) a. Everyone loves someone I know.
c. --.V3 ----7 --.3\i
a'. Vx3y[know(J, y) 1\ love(x, y)]
b. It is not the case that everyone loves someone I know. So one can assign the more general V3 reading to (49a) and argue
b'. --.Vx3y[know(J, y) 1\ love(x, y)J that the 3\i reading arises as a special case. This is appealing, as
it prevents us from positing an ambiguity for which we have no
According to the proposal just outlined, (48a) would have only the
evidence other than these scope phenomena. The problem, how-
reading specified in (48a'). The other alleged reading (where there
ever, is that negation reverses entailments such as the one in (49b).
is just one person I know that everyone loves) would be a special
Under negation we get the pattern in (49c), where --.3\i is the more
case of (48a'), one where the person everyone loves happens to be
general reading (the entailed one). This is illustrated in figure 3.2.
the same one. It follows, then, that since (48a) on such a proposal
In this figure the situations associated with (a certain reading of) a
would be unambiguous, the only possible reading for the negation
sentence are represented as a portion of a space, and entailment
of (48a), namely (48b), would be the one shown in (48b'). Imagine
can be visualized as inclusion (A entails B if the space of possibil-
now the following scenario. I know many people, and everyone
ities corresponding to A is included in the space of possibilities
likes someone or other among them. However, there is no person I
corresponding to B). Negation takes us from the space associated
know that everyone loves: not everyone loves Sue, not everyone
with a sentence to the space excluded by it. The reader can easily
loves John, not everyone loves Mary, and so on. It seems to us that
check that if A is a subregion of B, then --.B must be a subregion
it would be perfectly appropriate to report such a situation by
Quantification and Logical Form 153

The interpretation assigned to a negative sentence ought to be more complicated than dealing with them, and examples like (47)
just the negation of the interpretation assigned to its positive suggest that it is also empirically inadequate.
counterpart. But, as we have seen, the interpretation of --,\13 is not If there are scope ambiguities, the problem is where to resolve
general enough to cover all readings associated with negative sen- them. Two major kinds of strategies come to mind as we try to
tences like (48b), and thus the strategy of assigning positive sen- develop compositional rules that can assign (43a) both the truth
tences like (48a) only the more general \13 reading is problematic. conditions associated with (43b) and those associated with (43c).
(In contrast, negated disjunctions do have the narrow range of The first treats the scope ambiguities of a sentence as basically
interpretations predicted by assigning only the general inclusive semantic and complicates rules of semantic interpretation to allow
reading to or [see chapter 4, p. 251].) them to assign distinct specifications of truth conditions to a single
·~(l~iJOc-c-\-i awJ It has often been noted that intonational phenomena interact syntactic structure. The second hypothesizes a more abstract level
~ \,t0L()O\'A.Qf1~ with scopal-interpretation possibilities. If (49a) is uttered with focal of syntactic structure than-the-surface structure and provides dis-
stress on someone, it is virtually obligatory to give it the more gen- tinct syntactic structures to associate with sentence (43a) and to
eral interpretation, that is, to understand the unstressed subject NP serve as input to the recursive rules of semantic interpretations.
as having wide scope. The speaker will be understood as making Cooper ( 1983) is the earliest explicit attempt to pursue the first
only the general claim and as refusing to endorse the more specific strategy, and other researchers (e.g., Jacobson 1992) have devel-
claim. But if focal stress is on everyone and someone is destressed, oped some quite sophisticated and subtle semantic analyses of
then the more narrow reading seems equally plausible (though the quantification and related phenomena that allow us to keep the
more general interpretation does not disappear). There has been approach to English syntax very simple. The semantic techniques
considerable interesting work on focus in recent years (see, e.g., involved, however, are significantly more complex than those
Roath 1996), and a better understanding of just how focal stress and afforded us by PC. And they are often easier to understand if one
other focal constructions constrain the interpretation of scopal already has a grounding in the more standard semantic ideas of
relations is becoming possible. Unless there are potential scopal PC and similar languages. We will thu~_]JUTSl}e_Jhese:=c;ond_kind of
ambiguities, however, it is hard to see how focus could help dis- strategy here.
ambiguate scopal relations. Thus the intonational facts, complex PC itself is, of course, an example of a strategy of the second kind
as they are, seem to support our claim that scope ambiguities are in dealing with scope, as it provides a syntactic characterization of
encountered in English. the scope of a quantifier. What we might hope to do is find evi-
f_,tJ::;'~J-hh~r ~Cof:::oC, .. cJ> i So we are led to conclude that, on our current understanding of dence for a more abstract level of English syntax that somehow re-
11 17
O.o/; :.J 'j' '"' s 1.>se.. < · ' 'quantificational dependencies, scope ambiguities are real. A sen- sembles more closely the syntax of PC.
tence containing quantified NPs is, in general, semantically ambig- Recent syntactic theories of all kinds have found it necessary to
uous as to how the scope relations of its NPs may be understood. articulate and enrich syntactic structure with notions that go well
Even if no single sentence may allow us to construe the scope of its beyond representing the immediate surface constituents on which
NPs in any old order, nevertheless, any old order seems to occur in we relied in testing the syntactic structure of (44). What we do
some sentence or other. It appears less ad hoc, then, to assume that below is adapt one such proposal that uses the notions of move-
any quantifier-scope construal is possible in principle as far as the i,f\p\!f'N Q!\ l
ment and traces developed in the Chomskyan Revised Extended
basic semantics of quantification goes, and that other factors may ·lr(\ ( c ') Standard Theory and its successor, Government Binding Theory.
rule certain construals out. In addition to pragmatic factors, which There are other syntactic theories around, and Chomsky himself
are always important in ambiguity resolution, we will almost cer- has recently developed the somewhat different minimalist frame-
tainly find that the ~e_!!l~~tics of-f~~l!S plays some role, along with work. Our interest, however, is not in endorsing any particular
perhaps properties of certain_particular lexical items. To avoid syntactic proposals but in finding an intuitively accessible and rel-
positing scopal ~mbiguities for q~antiliecCphrases k~k~ ultimately atively familiar framework that allows us to illustrate how a gram-
Chapter 3 154 Quantification and Logical Form 155

mar might deal with some of the quantificational phenomena we ent rx anywhere. 8 Various independent constraints prevent the
have noted. "move rx" rule from overgenerating. Sentences like (50b, d) can be
seen as derived via the "move rx" rule from the D-structures asso-
ciated with (50a, c), respectively.
2.1 Syntactic preliminaries (50) a. John likes beans.
In this section we summarize briefly the main syntactic notions that b. Beans, John likes.
we are going to use in what follows. As we noted above, our inter- c. John wonders Bill bought what.
est is in illustrating how a grammar of English might represent d. John wonders what Bill bought.
some of the quantificational phenomena we have noted, and we are
adopting a very simple syntax that allows us to do that relatively In the case of(50a, b), both structures are well formed, whereas the
easily. Readers familiar with post-1965 transformational approaches "unmoved" structure in (50c) is ungrammatical (although syntactic
may skip this section. arguments can be provided for positing something like it as the DS
The development of transformational syntax after 1965 (the date source of ( 50d)). One can describe the relation between (50 a, c) and
of publication of Aspects of the Theory of Syntax) led to a model of (50b, d) by saying that in (50b, d) a constituent has been dislocated
grammar usually schematized as follows: to clause-initial position. Various properties of dislocated consti-
tuents, such as interrogative and relative pronouns or topicalized
:_,_, ( ('- )C i \}(
expressions, depend on their DS position. For example, case mark-
ings on dislocated constituents may depend on where they come
~U' (51) a. *Whom did you say __ came late?
b. Whom did you say John met __ ?
c.). (orrv 1 \cx'.·\U· ('/\. c. To whom did Joan give the book __?
Each node in the'Jdiagram (namely, DS, SS, PF, and LF) stands for a
As (51) illustrates, accusative case on interrogative pronouns in
distinct level of grammatical representation. DS stands for deep
English is acceptable only if the question concerns what would be
structure (also abbreviated as D-structure ), SS stands for surface
an accusative case complement of a verb or preposition. This
structure (also abbreviated as S-structure), PF stands for phonolog-
shows that the position ofthe dislocated constituent in (51b, c) and
ical form, and LF for logical form. These levels are derivationally
the position of the gap-a position with which accusative case
linked as indicated, by the arrows. In generating a sentence, the
marking is associated-must be somehow related. Movement is one
grammar first produces its D-structure. This is then mapped onto
plausible way of capturing such relatedness.
the corresponding S-structure. The S-structure is the input to two
More specifically, it is assumed that moved constituents leave
interpretive components. On the one hand, the S-structure of a
behind either a silent copy, as in (52a), where it is marked in italics,
sentence is mapped onto a phonological form. On the other hand, it
or an empty node coindexed with the moved constituent, as in (52b):
is mapped onto one or more logical forms, which are then seman-
-silent .c~,~r-tj
tically interpreted. We will say more about LF shortly. (52) a. [s' whom [s did you say [s John met [NP whom]]]]
Each level is subject to certain conditions of well-formedness. b. [s' whomi[s did you say [s John met [NP ~i]]]]
e<v\.P'r'·j t .•• :nrl, 1 1\H( 0
For a sentence to be well formed, it must be well formed at each
The constituent left behind by a moved element 1s called a trace.
level. D-structure represents, in the form of phrase-structure mark-
( \.)C \ I ( ('
We will adopt the notation in (52b), though nothing we say hinges
ers, the structural properties of sentences that can be directly
on this assumption. These phonologically unrealized or empty
projected from their lexical makeup. D-structure is mapped onto S-
elements are argued to produce audible effects in certain contexts.
structure by moving constituents out of their allowable D-structure
In English, for instance, there is a contraction process that turns
positions by application of a very general rule: move any constitu-
Quantification and Logical Form 157

want+ to sequences into wanna. Wanna contraction appears to ambiguated structures that constitute the input to semantic inter-
blocked by traces intervening between want and to, as illustrated pretation. Movement used to represent quantificational scope is
in (53). generally called quantifier raising (QR), and the level of syntactic
structure that QR gives rise to is called Logical Form (LF).
(53) a. Who do you wanna invite?
Although the notion of LF in l,inguistics bears some relation to
b. [s' who; [s do you want to invite e;]]
the characterizations of logical form one finds in the logico-
c. *Who do you wanna come?
philosophical literature (which we will discuss in section 3), it is
d. [s' who; [s do you want e; to come]]
not to be identified with it. LF is a level of syntactic representation
If syntactic structure encodes information about positions that where scope and possibly other relations relevant to semantic in-
are not pronounced (via movement as we have just described or by terpretation are overtly displayed. 10 LF mediates between surface
some other method, e.g., copying a trace into the appropriate posi- syntactic structures and meaning (truth conditions). As such it is a
tion), then facts such as those in (53) can be plausibly explained as technical notion of syntactic theory, and we restrict the use of the
the blocking of a phonological process triggered by structural ele- acronym LF accordingly.
ments (traces). Data such as those in (53) are arguably more difficult In some recent developments of the Principles and Parameters
to explain in terms of theories of syntax that eschew abstract empty framework, it has been argued that no principle of grammar actu-
nodes. ally makes reference to D-structure or S-structure. Words are taken
- .. a-1"'1 :; I 'e ( ucv<: '(' ,. r' 1 The view of movement just sketched can be useful in dealing from the lexicon, merged together, and moved according to general
:::,c of · with quantifier scope as well. One can imagine representing the principles. At some point of the derivation (a point that may vary
scope of quantified NPs by adjoining them to the site over which from language to language), a process spells out the structure at
they are supposed to have scope. Thus, for example, the two NPs in that stage; the derivation then goes on until the input to semantic
(54a) could be fronted (by the "move a" rule) in either order, which interpretation, namely LF, is reached. As our interest here is how
yields the two structures in (54b, c). LF is interpreted, we can afford to stay neutral on syntactic issues
(54ta. Everyone loves someone. such as these. We will keep referring to S-structure, which under
c>''b. [s everyone; [s someonej [s e; loves ej]]] the developments just mentioned could be reinterpreted as the
c. [s someonej [s everyone; [s e; loves ej]]]
level at which "spell out" applies. What is important to us is that
o d. \fx3y[loves(x, y)]
there is a level of syntactic representation at which quantifier scope
,·ve. 3y\fx[loves(x, y)] is structurally represented. We assume that this spelling out
happens by whatever is responsible for overt syntactic movement.
The two structures in (54b, c) could then be unambiguously mapped Other ways of dealing with scope have been proposed within the
onto the truth conditions associated with (54d, e) respectively. generative tradition. The semantic methods to be illustrated in the
Note that we actually do have overt though somewhat stilted next section can be modified, as far as we can see, to apply to most
structures in English that make the scopal relations explicit. Sen- ways of disambiguating surface syntactic structures with regard to
tence (55a) has the truth conditions of (54d), whereas the truth the scope of quantified NPs, though not all (see, e.g. Jacobson's
conditions of (55b) are those of (54e). variable-free approach, illustrated in Jacobson 1992 and elsewhere).
(55) a. Everyone is such that someone loves them. This discussion gives only a very rough overview of some widely
b. Someone is such that everyone loves them. 9 used syntactic terminology that we will adopt in setting up our
sample grammar in the form of a fragment of English with quanti-
Q\/Q.JJI Thus one can imagine having both overt movement that actually
f\JJ)\}.()sAQs', ~-
fied NPs. As before, our English fragment is offered for pedagogical
dislocates constituents in surface structure (as in the examples in
purposes only: in particular, our interest is in the semantic tech-
(50)) and covert movement whose role is purely interpretive, per-
niques it lets us illustrate and not in the particular syntactic anal-
haps with properties similar to those of overt movement (and
yses of English it embodies.
(p\JL\ \- perhaps obeying similar constraints). Covert movement yields dis-
Quantification and Logical Form 159

2.2 The fragment F2 Notice that QR, the rule given in (57), coindexes the moved NP
To illustrate some of the problems involved in spelling out the with the trace that it enters in the original position of the NP.
truth conditions of sentences containing quantified NPs, we will Here is an·example of a sentence generated by F 2 , along with its
now formally describe a fragment of English, F 2 , that includes (six!) possible LF structures. One ofthese structures is presented in
some elementary forms of quantification. F 2 is generated by a set of full, the others in abbreviated form.
phrase-structure rules. The syntactic structures admitted by this set (58) a. Every man gave a book to the woman.
of rules undergo a quantifier-raising transformation. In light of what b. 1 s
we discussed in 2.1, we shall call the phrase markers associated
with sentences generated by the phrase-structure rules S-structures
and the phrase markers generated by applying quantifier raising to 3 s
S-structures LF structures. A compositional model-theoretic inter-
pretation is provided for LF structures. Thus sentences are going to
interpreted relative to (one of their) LF structures. As we are not
5 s
dealing in this fragment with relative clauses, questions, or other
constructions involving overt syntactic movement, we will not
6 NP 5 7 S
need distinct levels forD-structure and S-structure.

2.2.1 The syntax of F2 With this in mind, let us consider the syn-
8 Det 9 Nom 10 Det 11 Nom 12
/\Nc NP~VP
Det 13 14 15
tactic rules for F2 • As is usual, we will use ----+ for phrase structure
rules and =? for transformations.
(56) a. S----+NPVP
b. S----+ S conj S
v. 17 NP lAP
c. S----+ neg S
d. VP----+ V1 NP
e. VP----+V; every man a book the woman e3 gives e 2 to
f VP----+ Vdt NP PP[to] c. [[every man]a [[the woman]5 [[a book]z [e 3 gives e2 to e5 ]]]]
g. NP----+ Det Nc d. [[a book]z [[every man]a [[the woman]5 [e 3 gives e2 to e5 ]]]]
h. PP[to] ----+to NP e. [[a book]z [[the woman]5 [[every man]a [e 3 gives e2 to e5 ]]]]
i. Det----+ the, a, every f [[the woman]5 [[every man]a [[a book]z [e 3 gives e2 to e5 ]]]]
j. Np ----+ Pavarotti, Loren, Bond
g. [[the woman]5 [[a book]z [[every man]a [e 3 gives e2 to e5 ]]]]
k. Nc ----+ book, fish, man, woman
1. V; ----+ is boring, is hungry
2.2.2 The semantics of F2 We begin by first providing an example of
m. V1 ----+ likes, hates a particular model for F 2 • Let M 3 = (U3 , V3), where U3 and V 3 are
n. Vdt ----+ gives, shows defined as follows:
0. conj ----+ and, or
p. neg ----+ it is not the case that (59) a. U3 ={Bond, Pavarotti, Loren, War and Peace, Aspects}
q. NP----+Np b. V3(likes) = {(Bond, Loren), (Pavarotti, Loren),
(Loren, Aspects), (Bond, War and Peace),
The rule for quantifier raising is (57), where NP is [Det Nc].
(Pavarotti, Pavarotti)}
(57) [s X NP Y] =? [s NPi [s X ei Y]] V3(hates) = {(Bond, Pavarotti)}
Quantification and Logical Form 161

V3 (gives) = {<Bond, Aspects, Loren), ment of English, we will also speak of F 2 models for English. An
<Pavarotti, War and Peace, Loren)} admissible F 2 model for English is any model M = <U, V) such that
V3 (is hungry) = {Pavarotti, Bond}
v3 (is boring) = 0 V(gives) = { <x, y, z): x, y, and z are in U and x gives y to z},
V3 (Pavarotti) = Pavarotti V(is hungry)= {x: xis in U and. xis hungry},
V3 (Bond) =Bond
and so on. Similarly, if Bond is a member of U, then V(Bond) =
V3 (Loren) =Loren
V3 (book) ={War and Peace, Aspects}
There may be some variability allowed in interpretation of lex-
V3 (man) ={Bond, Pavarotti}
ical constants on different occasions of use-e.g., in this book we
V3 (woman) ={Loren}
ask you to interpret some ordinary English words in special tech-
V3 (fish) = 0
nical ways-and thus admissible models may not completely fix
V3 (and) = [<1, 1) - t 11 the concepts associated with particular words. But there seem to be
<1, 0) --) 0
substantial constraints on lexical interpretation that are part of
<o, 1)--) o
speakers' semantic competence, and these constraints limit the
<o, o) --) o
class of admissible F 2 models for English. From now on, when we
Similarly for or and it is not the case that.
speak of models for the English fragment F 2 , we will only be inter-
The model itself says nothing about the interpretation of traces. ested in F 2 models for English.
Along with model M 3 , we will also define a particular assignment We provide next the recursive part of the semantic rules. As be-
function, g 3 , to assign a value to traces. In particular, let us assume fore, we want to associate each syntactic rule with a semantic one.
that for any n, g 3 (en) = Pavarotti. After each semantic rule, we indicate the corresponding syntactic
What we have done above is provide a particular model and as- rule. As this part of the semantics is independent of any particular
signment function for evaluating sentences relative to particular choice of model, we will relativize it to an arbitrary model for
LFs in the English fragment F 2 • Particular models can be thought of English M and an assignment g.
as part of what speakers in some sense access on particular occa-
reo.J'is t ve" (60) a. If A is a lexical category and f3 a trace term,
sions of language use. The domain, what is being talked about, can
ro\ e', [lAfJJ]M,g = g(jJ);
vary, and of course the facts will vary, that is, the extension of
otherwise, [[AfJ]]M,g = V(j]) (56j-o)
particular lexical constants can vary. But certain aspects of lexical
b. [[AB]]M,g = [B]M,g for A, B of any category (56e, q)
interpretation are fixed. Speakers may not know the full details of
c. [[pp to NP]]M,g = [NP]M,g (56h)
the model, e.g., they may not know who is hungry (that is not part
d. [[NP VP]]M,g = 1 iff [NP]M,g E [VP]M,g (56a)
of semantic knowledge), but they do know that is hungry is picking
e. [[S 1 conj Sz]]M,g = [conj]M,g ( <[S 1 ]M,g, [S 2 ]M,g)) (56b)
out the set of those with a certain property, being hungry.
f. [[neg S]]M,g = [neg]M,g([S]M,g) (56c)
All models for F 2 have certain general properties, e.g., they assign
g. [[V NP]]M,g = {x: <x, [NP]M,g) E [V]M,g} (56d)
sets of individuals as the value of intransitive verbs. These and the
h. [[V NP PP]]M,g = {x: <x, [NP]M,g, [PP]M,g) E [V]M,g} (56!)
recursive semantic rules, which we give below, constitute part of
i. [[[every fJ]; S]]M,g = 1 iff for all u E U, if u E [fJ]M,g,
speakers' semantic competence. But as we have noted, speakers then [S]M,g[u/ei] = 1 (QR)
also have more specific knowledge about the allowable interpreta-
j. [[[a fJ]; S]]M,g = 1 iff for some u E U, u E [fJ]M,g
tion of lexical constants in F 2 models they might access. Let us and [S]M,g[u/ei] = 1 (QR)
define an admissible model for F 2 as one in which the general
k. [[[the fJ]; S]]M,g = 1 iff for some u E U, [fJ]M,g = {u}
interpretation of lexical constants is constrained by the semantic and [S]M,g[u/ei] ~ 1 (QR)
knowledge of English speakers. Because F2 is intended as a frag-
Except for relativizing our interpretation to a model and assign-
ment function rather than ~imply to a situation, semantic rules
Quantification and Logical Form 163

( 60a- h) look just like the rules in chapter 2 for F 1 (expanded Our strategy is essentially the same as that we used for calculating
exercise 8 at the end of the chapter). And the clauses that ·n~,,n~.--• the semantic values of expressions in PC. We start with the outer-
the semantic contribution of raised quantificational NPs work most quantifying expression and work our way in. We will calcu-
much like our semantics for the logical quantifiers in PC. The late the truth conditions for an arbitrary F 2 model for English M and
definite article, a, works just like the existential quantifier assignment function g in tediouey detail. In calculating the truth
that we do not have access to the entire domain of individuals conditions for the particular model M3 and assignment function g 3 ,
just those satisfying the nominal to which the article is ~LLU'-'Jllt::I.I: we will be less thorough. (Numbers refer to nodes in (58b).) Notice
with every, we have similarly restricted universal quantific that we made critical use of our assumption that M was an F 2 model
The semantic contribution made by NPs with the definite article, for English in the last step. If we had not made that assumption, we
the, is what the Russellian analysis specifies (see pp. 143-1 would have had to stop with (j). In that case, our truth condi-
above). In all three rules interpreting the contribution of quantifi- tions would have made reference just to membership in V(man),
cational NPs, we make use of modified assignment functions, as we V(book), V(woman), and V(gives), and we would not have been
did for PC. Traces are the expressions in F 2 that work semantically guaranteed anything about men giving books to women. Now let's
like the variables of PC. calculate the truth value of our LF structure relative to M 3 and g3
Let us illustrate the working of the present semantics with an (see the box on p. 164). The computation is in some respects just
example. We will first compute the truth conditions of (58a), rela- like that above, but our interest in M 3 will be the particular facts it
tive to the LF in (58b), in an arbitrary F 2 model for English and then
go on to compute its truth value in the particular model M 3 • Of
course, we also need a particular assignment function to assign Calculation of the truth conditions of (58al relative to LF (58b)
a value to traces, and we will use g 3 , defined above as g 3 (en) = (a) [(55b)]M,g = 1 iff for all u E U, if u E V(man), then [3]M,g[ufe,]
Pavarotti for all n. We repeat (58a-b) here. = 1 By (60i)
(b) [3]M,g[uje,] = 1 iff for some u' E U, u' E V(book), [5]M,g[[uje,]u'/•zl
(58) a. Every man gave a book to the woman. = 1 By (60j)
b. 1 s (c) [5]M,g[[ufe,]u'/•z] = 1 iff for some u 11 E U V(woman) = {u"} and
[ 7 ]M,g][[uje,]u'/•z]u"/es] = 1 By (6 0k)

(d) g[[[uje3]u'/e 2]u"/es](e3) = u
2 NP 3 3 g[[[u/e3]u'/ez]u"/es](ez) = u'

g[[[u/e 3]u'/e2]u"/es](es) = u"
By definition of modified assignment functions
(e) [ 7 ]M,g[[[uje,]u' /ez]u" je5 ] = 1
iff [ 14]M,g[[[uje,]u' /•z]u" /•s] E [ 15 ]M,g[[[uje,]u' je2 ]u" je5 ] By (6 0d)

7\ :t(A
(f) [14]M,g[[[uje,]u'/ez]u"/es] = U By (d) and (60a)
(g) [ 16]M,g[[[uje,]u'fez]u"/es] = V(gives) By (60a)
[ 17]M,g[[[u/e3 ]u'/ez]u"/es] = u' By ( 6 0a) (d)
[18]M,g[[[uje,]u:/•z]u::/•s] = u 11 By (60aJ, (60c), (d)
(h) [15]M,g[[[uje,]u fe,]u fes] = {x: (x, u', u 11 ) E V(gives)} By (g) and (60h)
8 Det 9 Nom 10 Det 11 Nom 12 Det 13 Nc 14 NP 15 VP (i) [17]M,g[[[uje,]u'/ez]u"fes] = 1 iff (u, u', u 11 ) E V(gives) By (h) and

definition of set membership
(j) [(55b)]M,g = 1 iff for all u E U, if u E V(man), there is some u' E U,
u' E V(book), and some u 11 E U, such that V(woman) = { u"} and
16 v,, 17 NP (u, u', u") E V(gives) By (a) through (i)
(k) [(55b)]M,g = 1 iff for all u E U such that u is a man, there is some
u' E U, u' a book, and some u" E U, u" the only woman in U, such
that u gives u' to u 11 By (j) and the assumption that M is an F2
model for English

every man a book the woman e3 gives

Chapter 3 164 Quantification and Logical Form 165

encodes. To keep our notation shorter, we'll designate Bond by Bo,

Computation of the truth value of (58b) relative to Ma and fJ3 Pavarotti by Pa, Loren by Lo, War and Peace by W&P, Aspects by
= 1 iff for all u E U, if u E V3(man), then [3][M,,g,[ufe,J = 1
(a) [(58b)]M,,g, Asp. We kept things relatively brief by not going down any blind
By (60i) alleys. In the first subbox we might have tried, for example, Asp
(b) V3(man) = {Pa,Bo} By (59b) rather than W&P to see whether J?avarotti gave it to Loren. Had we
Go to subbox 1, and assign Pa to e3; i.e., consider g 3[Pa/e3]. done so, that particular calculation would have yielded a 0, and
then we would have had to try W&P before being able to close the
(a) [3]M,,g,[Pafe,] = 1 iff for some u' E U, u' E V(book) first subbox. But the basic idea is simple and not very different from
= {W&P,Asp}, [5]M,g[[Paje,]u'/ez] = 1 By (59b) and (60j) what we did in PC.
(b) Assign W&Pto e2 ; i.e., consider g3[[Pa/e 3]W&P/e2 ]
(c) [5]M,,g,[[Pafe,]W&P/ez] = 1 iff for some u" E U, V(woman) = {u"}
On the basis of the semantics for F 2 , we can provide the usual
and [7]M,,g,[[[Paje,]W&Pje,]u"je,] = 1 By (60k) definitions of truth, entailment, and related notions.
(d) V(woman) = {Lo} By (59b)
(e) [5]M,,g,[[Paje,]W&P/ez] = 1 iff [7]M,,g,[[[Paje,]W&P/ez]Loje,] = 1 By (61) a. A sentenceS of F2 is true in a model Mrelative to one ofits
(c), (d)
LF structures f3 iff for all assignments g, [fJ]M,g = 1. S is
(f) [7]M,,g,[[[Paje,]W&P/ez]Loje,] = 1 iff (Pa, W&P,Lo) E V(gives) For false in M relative to f3 iff for all g, [fJ]M,g = 0.
details, see (e) to (i) in the calculation of the truth conditions b. A set of sentences n = {S 1 , ... , Sn} of F2 , each S; taken
for (58a) relative to one of its LF structures /3;, entails a sentenceS' of
(g) [3]M,,g,[Paje,] = 1 By (a) through (f) and (59b)
F2 relative to one of its LF structures fJ', iff for all M, Man F2
model for English, in which each S; is true in Mrelative to
Go to subbox 2 and assign Bo to e3; i.e., consider g3[Bo/e3]. /3;, S' also is true in M relative to fJ'.
Restricting our attention to admissible F 2 models for English in
2 (a) [3]M,,g,[Bofe,J = 1 iff for some u' E U, u' E V(book)
= {W&P,Asp}, [5]M,g[[Boje,]u'/ez] = 1 By (59b) and (60j) defining entailment means that we will potentially have more
(b) Assign Asp to e2 ; i.e., consider g 3[[Bo/e3]Asp/e2 ] entailments than just those due to the quantifiers and connectives.
(c) [5]M,,g,[[Bofe,]Aspfe,] = 1 iff for some u" E U, V(woman) = { u"} For example, in all models for English the intersection of V(hates)
and [7]M,,g,[[[Boje,]Aspje,]u"je,] = 1 By (60k)
and V(likes) is arguably empty; that is, although there may be a
(d) V(woman) = {Lo} By (59b)
(e) [ 5 ]M3 ,g3 [[Boje3 ]Aspje2 ] = 1 iff [?]M3 ,g3 [[[Boje3 ]Aspje2 ]Loje5 ] = 1 By (c), middle ground, hating and liking are incompatible. On this as-
(d) sumption, then, (62a), relative to LF (62a'), entails (62b).
(f) [7]M,,g,[[[Paje,]W&Pje,]Loje,] = 1 iff (Pa, W&P,Lo) E V(gives) For
(62) a. Loren likes a man.
details, see (e) to (i) in the calculation of the truth conditions
for (58a) a'. S

(g) [3]M,,g,[Pafe,] = 1 By (a) through (f) and (59b)

NP 2

/\Nc NP~VP
(c) [(58b)]M,,g, = 1 By (a), (b), and the two subbox results



a man
Quantification and Logical Form 167

b. It is not the case that Loren hates every man. with unraised quantified NPs. Such NPs lack a denotation, and thus
b'. s rules like (57 d), which interpret subject-predicate constructions,
will not work if the NP is a quantified one. Quantified NPs receive
an interpretation only in fronted position, and then only indirectly
s by means of the contribution they make to the truth conditions of
~S NP 5
the sentences they occur in. There is no value assigned to a quan-
tified NP as such.

Of course, the fact that quantified NPs lack an independently
definable value is a major drawback of the present approach. It
det Nc NP VP forces us to deal with each determiner within an NP in terms of a

separate semantic rule, as (60i-k) illustrate. Not only is this inele-
gant; it will not be viable in the long run. Notice that there are an
indefinite number of determiners that can occur within NPs (com-

every man
Loren hates
I plex NPs like every man and some woman, every man and some
woman and three boys, a chicken in every pot, two candidates from
We will just sketch how a proof of this entailment would go. As- every city, some but not all men, not every but some man, most or
sume that (62a') is true in model M. By (60j), this implies that for all men, etc.). If each type of quantified NP is simply associated
some u in V(man), if u is assigned to e 2 , then [Loren likes e 2 ] = 1 with a separate semantic rule, our capacity to interpret such an
relative to that assignment of a value to e 2 • This, however, is true iff indefinite variety of NP types would be a mystery. Clearly, the
Loren is in {x: <x, u) E V(likes)} iff <Loren, u) E V(likes). But semantic value of NPs, just like that of other nonlexical phrases,
V(likes) n V(hates) 0 (by the assumption that Mis an admissible has to be compositionally derived from the semantic values of their
F 2 model for English). Therefore, <Loren, u) ¢ V(hates) for some u parts. But then NPs have to have a semantic value and cannot be
in V(man), and thus [Loren hates e 5 ] = 0 if u is assigned as the treated indirectly just by looking at their semantic role in the
value of e 5 • But by (60i), this means that [[every man] 5 [Loren hates structures in which they occur.
e 5 ]] = 0 in M, and thus, by (60f), (62b') is true in M. This entailment These considerations show that our semantics for F 2 is composi-
depends on grammatical structure, the properties of the "logical" tional only in a weak sense: sentences are compositionally in-
words (the quantifying determiners and the negative), and also the terpreted in terms of the meanings of their parts, but other phrases,
lexical relation of the content words hates and likes. such as NPs, are not. As we have seen, this has undesirable con-
Readers may have noticed that so far we have always raised sequences. However, there is no way to find an object that can play
quantifier NPs and then interpreted the resulting LFs. If QR is op- the role of quantified NP meanings within the limits ofthe semantics
tional, what happens with sentences with quantified NPs left in situ for PC. More powerful semantic techniques are called for. We will
(that is, not raised by means of QR)? Such sentences are unin- come back to these and related issues in chapter 9, where we intro-
terpretable and thus, for that reason, ultimately ungrammatical. All duce the theory of generalized quantifiers. Even this more powerful
sentences are interpreted relative to an LF, but for sentences with- theory, however, mal<.es use of semantic variables and techniques
out quantified NPs their only LF is identical with their surface like modifying assignment functions, concepts that may be easiest
structure. Sentences that do have one or more LFs distinct from to introduce in this simpler framework. In the meantime, PC and
theirS-structure, i.e., sentences containing a quantified NP, have to the fragment F 2 also let us explore many basic scopal phenomena.
be interpreted relative to one of their LFs. Although we will eventually make some modifications, we want
Now we could make QR obligatory and thus rule out sentences to stress that we take the recursive semantic rules in (60) and the
with quantified NPs in situ as syntactically deviant. Given the se- constraints on admissible F 2 models of English informally described
mantics of F 2 , however, it turns out to be easy to filter out sentences on pp. 160-161 to constitute a partial characterization ofthe seman-
Chapter 3 168 Quantification and Logical Form 169

tic competence of English speakers, which includes their basic lin- a. Ambiguities due to the presence of several quantified NPs in a
guistic knowledge and what they know about how their language clause ("Every man loves a woman")
links to the world. Using these rules and conditions, we are able to b. Ambiguities that quantified NPs generate in interaction with inten-
calculate truth conditions, as shown on p. 163 and, relative to sional contexts (to be discussed in chapter 5)
knowledge of particular facts, truth values, as shown on p. 164. We c. Bound uses of pronouns ("Every cat loves its whiskers")
are also able to demonstrate entailment relations, as shown on p.
We just saw how (a) is accommodated in F 2 • We will see what
166. In other words, the semantic rules and conditions on admissi-
phenomena (b) refers to and how to accommodate them when we
ble models for F 2 do go a long way toward specifying the semantic
discuss intensionality. For you to see (c), we have to introduce
knowledge of English speakers (with respect to this fragment): the
pronouns into F 2 , which we now do. This again will illustrate some
results we got in deriving truth conditions and judging entailments
of the problems involved.
match speakers' intuitive judgments quite well. In using English in
Personal pronouns in English are inflected with respect to gen-
particular contexts, speakers make use of something like the F 2 rules
der, number, and case, and the actual distribution of pronominal
and particular admissible models, we think. (We discuss questions
forms is far more complex than is often acknowledged. Here we
of language use in chapter 4 and pay particular attention to the con-
cannot deal properly with the issues that arise in connection with
tribution of contextual factors to interpretation in chapter 6.) We
the status of these notions. Instead, we simply add hen, shen, and
have specified our recursive rules and the constraints on admissible
itn, along with himn and hern, as new lexical entries of category Np;
models by using a mixture of mathematical terminology and
n is just an unpronounced arbitrary numerical index. Pronouns are
English. We have said nothing about what speakers might know
distinguished from other members of category Np by the fact that
about particular English words like woman, what the real signifi-
they have an inherent index.
cance is of claiming that speakers only entertain models in which
V(woman) = {x: xis a woman}. How much of what is involved in (63) Np--> hen,shen,itn,himn,hern, for arbitrary n
this constraint on the models that speakers use is linguistic knowl- Of course, in most of their uses the feminine shenf hern and the
edge? How much is socially based linguistic practice? How much is masculine hen/himn respectively presuppose female or male sex in
a matter of extralinguistic beliefs about the world? There are many the values they might be assigned for plausible interpretations;
deep and difficult questions involved here, some of which we will unlike itn, they also presuppose animacy in those potential value
address (though by no means fully answer) in chapter 8. In the assignments. For present purposes, however, we can simply as-
meantime, our approach seems very promising: we have an explicit sume that sentences with coindexings with a gender clash are
theory that yields results that agree with the semantic judgments of somehow filtered out. That is to say, NPs with the same index must
native speakers. Not surprisingly, the current fragment does not do agree in gender features. Syntactic position determines the different
all we want, and thus we will continue to expand and modify our distribution of nominative case hen/ shen and their accusative
approach. But the general program is off to a satisfactory beginning. counterparts, himnfhern, but here too we will simply assume that
case forms in inappropriate locations are somehow excluded with-
out worrying about the precise mechanism that accomplishes this.
For each of the LFs associated with (58a), determine which of the With these modifications F 2 can generate sentences like (64a)
other LFs it entails.
below. Before looking at it, however, we need also to modify
slightly the semantics of F2 so that our newly introduced pronouns
can be interpreted. The idea is to interpret them just as we inter-
preted variables in PC and as we have interpreted traces in Fz; that
2.3 Pronouns as bound variables and some scope restrictions in English
is, their initial values will be determined by the assignment func-
As pointed out in Cooper (1983, sec. 3.2.1), any mechanism, like
tion g, with possible modification if they happen to be bound by a
QR, that allows assignment of wide scope to syntactically em-
quantifying expression. We will require that pronouns with the
bedded quantified NPs can be used to account for three things:
same index are mapped onto the same individuals, regardless of
Chapter 3 170 Quantification and Logical Form 171

case (so that, e.g., g(hen) = g(himn)). We will also assume that
assignments of values to pronouns respect their genders. For ex- Calculation of the truth conditions and value of (65b)
ample, let us assume that g3 is specified as follows: g3(he 1 ) = (a) [(65b)]M,,g, = 1 iff [2]M,,g, = [3]M,,g, By (60d)
Pavarotti, g3(he 2 ) =Bond, g3(she3) =Loren, g(it4 ) =War and Peace, (b) [2]M,,g, = Pavarotti By (59b)
(c) [3]M,,g, = {x: (x,g3 (her3 )) E V3 (likes)} By (60a, g) and (64a)
and for any n > 4, g3 (hen) = Pavarotti. (Gender, as noted above, (d) g3 (her3 ) =Loren By expanded definition of g3 above
contributes semantic information, presumably as a presupposition, (e) V3 (likes) = {(Bond, Loren), (Pavarotti, Loren), (Loren, Asp),
but we will not try here to spell out formally how this happens.) We (Bond, W&P), (Pavarotti,Pavarotti)} By (59b)
present next the amended version of (60), italicizing the parts that (f) Pavarotti E { x : (x, Loren) E V3 (likes)} = {Bond, Pavarotti} By (d),
(e), and the definition of set membership
have been modified. We omit (b) to (h), which are unchanged. (g) [(64b)]M,,g, = 1 By (a) through (f)
(64) a. If A is a lexical category and fJ a trace or pronoun,
[[AfJ]]M,g = g([J); otherwise, [[AfJ]]M,g V(fJ)
i. [[[every [J]; S]]M,g 1 iff for all u E U, if u E [fJ]M,g, then If we assume that V3(likes) = {<x, y) : x likes y} in M3, then our
[S]M,g[u/t;J = 1, where ti is a trace or a pronoun; that is, result is that (65a) is true in M 3 relative to g3 just in case Pavarotti
g[u/ti] = g except that g[u/ti](ei) = u and g[ujt1](hei) = likes Loren. Notice that we had to use the value assigned by g3 to
g[u/tt](shei) = g[u/tt](iti) = g[u/tt](himi) = g[ujtt](heri) = u her3 to get this result. The pronoun her3 in (65a) is what is called a
j. [[[a fJt S]]M,g = 1 iff for some u E U, u E [fJ]M,g and deictic pronoun: it gets its interpretation from a pointing or some
[S]M,g[u/t;J = 1, where ti is a trace or a pronoun other contextual way of identifying a particular referent. English
k. [[[the fJt S]]M,g = 1 iff for some u E U, [fJ]M,g = {u} and pronouns used deictically are treated just like free variables in PC:
[S]M,g[u/t;J = 1, where ti is a trace or a pronoun
they get their value directly from an assignment function.
F 2 so amended serves as a preliminary illustration of how our Just as some English pronouns are interpreted like free variables,
formal semantics for quantification can be applied to a natural lan- some are interpreted like bound variables. Typical examples of
guage. We think that such an approach helps bring into focus some bound-variable uses of pronouns are the following:
interesting empirical properties of grammars. In what follows, we (66) a. Every teenager likes her mother.
briefly discuss a sample of such properties. b. Every professor thinks that she is busy.
Let us first familiarize ourselves with how F2 with pronouns
works. In (65b) we illustrate the surface structure of(65a), and then At present we are unable to accommodate such uses because we
we compute the value of (65b) in M 3 relative to g3. haven't dealt with the semantics of possessives or with embedding.
If we had a semantics for such constructions, the treatment of
(65) a. Pavarotti likes her. bound pronouns in F 2 would apply to them (as we will see when
b. 1 s we deal with embedding). To show binding in F 2 , we will just add

~ 3VP
reflexive pronouns with -selfn to our stock. In the next section, we
will discuss the distribution and interpretive constraints on reflex-

ives. We can, however, simply add them to our fragment now in
anticipation and actually work through a straightforward example
Vt 5 6 of the binding of a pronoun by a quantified NP. So let us further
increase the stock of lexical items in category Np by adding the
I following:
4 NP 7 NP
(67) Np---7 itselfn, himselfn, herselfn, for arbitrary n
I likes
I For now, these reflexive pronouns will be given their initial value
by the assignment function, just like our other pronouns, and be
Quantification and Logical Form 173

subject to binding by quantified NPs. We will require that for all n, interpret the sentence: quantificational NPs need an index to be
g(itselfn) g(itn), g(himselfn) = g(hen) = g(himn), and g(herselfn)::::: interpreted, and they get their index only when moved. Expanding
g(shen) = g(hern)· Sentence (68a) and its LF (68b) are generated by the fragment to include reflexives has given us an example of
our expanded fragment, and we can calculate the truth conditions pronoun binding.
and value of (68b) in M 3 relative to g3 . The process is familiar. Even without reflexives, F 2 d0es display what look like bound-
(68) a. Every man likes himself. variable uses of nonreflexive pronouns, but these raise some inter-
b. 1 s esting problems. Here are some examples.

~ (69) a. The man is hungry, and he is boring.

b. [s [the manh [e3 is hungry and [NP he 3 ] is boring]]

A 4N~
c. 3y[man(y) 1\ 'v'x[man(x) '---7 x = y] 1\ hungry(y) 1\ boring(y)]
(70) a. A man is hungry, and he is boring.
b. [s [a man]z [e2 is hungry and [NP he 2 ] is boring]]
c. 3y[ man(y) 1\ hungry(y) 1\ boring(y)]
6 Det 7 Nc 8 V1 NP In these two examples (b) is the LF of (a), and (c) is a PC formula
whose truth conditions are the same as those that the semantics in
I (64) associates with these constructions. In these sentences we see
an NP assigned scope over both conjuncts in a conjunction. As the
I sentences in question are indeed grammatical (if one is willing to
every man likes himsel£2 tolerate a certain stylistic awkwardness), the fact that these con-
structions can be accommodated in F 2 and can be interpreted as
Notice that the values of g 3 themselves do not enter into the calcu-
shown in (69c) and (70c) appears prima facie to be a positive result.
lation and thus the sentence is false in M3 . This is because the
Examples of the same kind can be constructed for disjunction: 11
pronoun and the trace are bound by the raised quantificational NP.
Notice also that we had to raise the quantifier every man in order to (71) [A package] 4 (that I was waiting for) either got delayed, or it4
was sent to the wrong address.
Notice also that the sentences in (72a) below are interpreted
Calculation of the truth conditions and value of (6Bb) conjunctively and the existential quantifier associated with a man
(a) [(68b)]M,,g, = 1 iff for all u in Uif u E [7]M,,g, = V3(man), then binds the pronoun he, which is schematically illustrated by the PC
[3]M,,g,[uft,] = 1 By (64i)
(b) [3]M,,g,[u/lz] = 1 iff [4]M,,g,[u/lz] E [5]M,,g,[u/lz] By (60d) rendering in (72b).
(c) [4]M,,g,[u/tzl = u By (64a) and the definition of g3[u/t2 ] (72) a. A maniac has damaged this painting. He evidently used a
(d) [5]M,,g,[uft,J = {x: <x,g3 [u/t2 ](himself2 )) E V3(likes)} By (64a) and
(e) g3 [ujt2 ](himselfz) = u By (64a) and the definition of g3[ujt2 ] b. 3x[maniac(x) 1\ damaged-this-painting(x) 1\ used-a-
(f) [3]M,,g,[uft,] = 1 iff uE {x: <x, u) E V3(likes)} iff <u, u) E V3(likes) knife(x)]
By (b) through (e) and the definition of set membership
(g) [(68b)]M,,g, = 1 iff for all u in U, if u E V3(man) = {Bond,Pavarotti}, These examples show that definite and indefinite NPs can have
<u, u) E V3(likes) By (a) through (f) and (59b) scope over coordinated structures and even across stretches of dis-
(h) <Bond, Bond)¢ V3 (likes) = {<Bond, Loren), <Pavarotti, Loren), course, a fact that can perhaps be accommodated within the gram-
<Loren, Asp), <Bond, W&P), <Pavarotti, Pavarotti)} By (59b) and
the definition of set membership mar of F 2 •
(i) [(68b)]M,,g, = 0 By (g) and (h) However, it must also be observed that universally quantified
NPs behave differently in this respect from existentially quantified
Quantification and Logical Form 175

ones, as is shown by the following examples (where the asterisk is positive clause, for example). Consider, e.g., the ungrammaticality
used to indicate ungrammaticality in the intended interpretation). of the following sentences:
(73) a. *[Every man] 4 is hungry, and he 4 is boring. (76) a. *[Which class]j did you correct the homework that; the
b. Vx[man(x)--) [hungry(x) A boring(x)]] teacher assigned __ ; to --j?
(74) a. *[Every man] 4 walked in. He 4 was wearing a hat. b. *[Which assignment]; did you hear the claim that a student
b. Vx[ man(x) --) [walked-in(x) A wearing-a-hat]] copied __ ;?

The (a) sentences in these examples show that in English a univer- Here the indices represent the dependency between dislocated
sal quantifier contained within a conjunct cannot in general bind constituents and gaps. The particular constraint illustrated in (76)
pronouns contained in other conjuncts (unlike the existential is known as the complex NP constraint; it appears to hold also of
quantifier associated with the indefinite article). 12 This behavior of quantifier scope. Rodman (1976) points out the following minimal
universal quantifiers is reminiscent of the coordinate-structure pair:
constraint, familiar to linguists since the work of Ross (1966). This (77) a. Guinevere has a bone in every corner of the house.
constraint describes a crucial property of movement dependencies, a'. Vx[ corner-of-the-house(x) --) 3y[bone(y) A has(g, y) A in
namely, the impossibility of extracting a constituent out of just one (y, x)]]
of two conjuncts, as illustrated by the following examples: b. Guinevere has a bone which is in every corner of the
(75) a. *Which boy did John see __ and Mary likes Bill. house.
b. *Beans John likes __ and Mary hates potatoes. The preferred reading of (77a) is the one represented in (77a'),
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that quantifiers like every are where the universal quantifier has widest scope. On the other hand,
governed by the same constraint (whatever a correct account of it such a reading is unavailable for (77b), where to obtain it we would
might be). However, if we follow this line, then (69a) and (70a) be- have to move the universally quantified NP out of a complex NP.
come a problem. We have to explain why NPs whose determiner is Again, there must be a good reason why these parallelisms hold.
a definite or indefinite article (as in (69a) and (70a) respectively) do Although there may be alternative explanations, such parallelisms
not appear to be subject to such a constraint. We will come back to seem unsurprising if overt wh dependencies and quantifier scope
this problem shortly. The interesting thing to note here is that if it is do indeed have a common structure. Our present approach does
correct that every is subject to the coordinate-structure constraint not really explain these generalizations. It does, however, provide a
an interpretive phenomenon (the scope properties of a quantifier)
' framework within which such an explanation might be found.
would be subject to a restriction governing syntactically overt In light of these examples the hypothesis that quantifier scope is
movement. This in turn would suggest that a unified treatment of subject to constraints similar to those on wh movement gains fur-
overt movement and scope phenomena (which the theory we are ther plausibility, which makes the behavior of the NPs illustrated
adopting provides) is empirically supported. If wh dependencies in (69) to (72) especially puzzling. What is it that allows them to
and quantifier scope were dealt with in terms of totally different extend their scope beyond what is possible for every?
mechanisms, there should be no reason to expect them to obey The mystery that surrounds NPs whose determiner is a definite
similar restrictions. or indefinite article is not confined to their behavior with respect to
In fact, parallelisms in the behavior of wh dependenCies and coordinated structures. Consider the contrast in ( 78).
quantifier scope are not limited to coordinate structures. They (78) a. *Every farmer who owns [every donkey]t beats it 1 •
show up in other grammatical structures, especially what Ross b. Every farmer who owns [a donkey]t beats it 1 .
called "island" environments, which seem to prevent movement
Sentence (78a) on the intended reading is ungrammatical. This is to
"off island." For example, it is impossible to question a constituent
be expected if every is subject to something like the complex NP
contained inside an NP of the form [NP NP S] (a relative or an ap-
Quantification and Logical Form 177

constraint: every donkey can bind the pronoun it only if we extract (80) we are interpreting the indefinite NP a donkey in terms of a
the former out of the relative clause in which it is embedded (a universal quantifier rather than an existential quantifier. Why and
complex NP). On the other hand, (78b) is perfectly grammatical. how does this come about?
This appears to be a further instance of the capacity of NPs with This phenomenon is perfectly general. In fact, it also shows up in
articles to extend their scope beyond that possible for universally other types of constructions, notabiy conditionals, as the following
quantified NPs. illustrates:
But there is something about (78b) that is even more puzzling. So
(81) a. *If Kim owns [every donkey]t, she beats it 1 .
far we have assumed that NPs with indefinite articles are seman-
tically associated with existential quantifiers, a hypothesis that
b. If Kim [owns a donkey]t, she beats itt.
seems to work remarkably well for many cases. However, this hy-
c. 3y[ donkey(y) 1\ own(k, y)] ___.. beat(k, y)
d. 3y[[ donkey(y) 1\ own(k, y)] ___.. beat(k, y)]
pothesis does not help us with (78b). If a donkey is existentially
quantified, we have essentially two options in assigning truth con-
e. Vy[[ donkey(y) 1\ own(k, y)] beat(k, y)]
ditions to sentences like (78b): Again, the scope of an NP with an indefinite article seems able to
span beyond the scope of a universally quantified NP (see (81a, b)).
(79) a. Vx[[ farmer(x) 1\ 3y[ donkey(y) 1\ own(x, y)]] ___.. beat(x, y)]
And again, the usual existential interpretation of the indefinite
b. Vx3y[[ farmer(x) 1\ [ donkey(y) 1\ own(x, y)]] ___.. beat(x, y)]
article gives wrong results (consider (81c, d)). The phenomenon
In (79a) the existential quantifier is assigned narrow scope with under discussion has been known at least since the ancient Stoics.
respect to the conditional. However, in such a case the second In recent debates it goes under the name of donkey anaphora, be-
occurrence of y, the one that represents the pronoun in (78b), is not cause of the examples used to illustrate it by Geach (1962), which
bound by 3, and thus its value is referentially independent of the have become standard in the literature.
NP a donkey, which does not give us the reading we want. In (79b) To summarize, we have found good evidence that universally
the existential quantifier is assigned wide scope over the condi- quantified NPs are subject to constraints similar to those to which
tional, and so the second occurrence of y is bound. But this still question formation is subject (like the coordinate-structure con-
gives us the wrong truth conditions. Sentence (79b) is true when- straint and other island constraints). NPs with indefinite (or defi-
ever there is anything that makes the antecedent false. The exis- nite) articles do not appear, prima facie, to obey restrictions of this
tence of something that is not a donkey is sufficient to make (79b) sort. Furthermore, indefinite articles appear to undergo what might
true, independently of what every farmer does to donkeys. Thus, look like a change in meaning when they occur in the restrictive
for example, in a situation in which there is a cat and no farmer portion of a universal quantifier or in the antecedent of a condi-
beats his donkey, (79b) would be true, for the cat would suffice to tional. It may be that some pronouns whose interpretation seems to
make the antecedent of the conditional false and hence the whole depend on an antecedent-i.e., they are not deictic-may not be
conditional true. But this is clearly not a reading that (78b) allows. "bound" in quite the sense our semantics for quantification eluci-
Thus, (79b) does not adequately represent the truth conditions of dates. Much recent work has been devoted to the solution of these
(78b). mysteries, and this work suggests that the phenomena illustrated in
A better approximation to what (78b) means is given by the truth (66) to (69) and those illustrated in (75) to (78) are indeed related. 13
conditions of (80). Such work focuses on how the truth conditions of sentences can
(80) Vx'v'y[[farmer(x) 1\ donkey(y) 1\ own(x, y)] ___.. beat(x, y)] affect, as well as be affected by, the dynamics of discourse. It calls
for techniques that go well beyond the limits of this book, however.
Formula (80) seems to represent fairly well the truth conditions At any rate, we hope to have aroused the curiosity of the reader
associated with (78b), though perhaps only under the further pre- about these matters.
supposition that each farmer owns just one donkey. However, in
Quantification and Logical Form 179

2.4 Coreference and noncoreference

(83) a. He loves himself.
In chapter 1, sec. 3.3, we informally introduced some observations b. *She loves himself.
about the possible referential dependence of pronouns on other
NPs, traditionally called their antecedents. Referential dependence Reflexives seem to need coreference or semantic dependence on
of the pronoun might mean reference to the same entity as the an- something "close," whereas ordi~ary pronouns reject such "local"
tecedent, or it might mean, as we have come to see in this chapter, coreference. What counts as "close" or "local" must, of course, be
being quantificationally bound by the antecedent. In the linguistic spelled out, but as a starting point one might say that two con-
literature, referential dependence is often called coreference and is stituents are "close" if they are in the same clause. To a significant
indicated by coindexing, although the precise semantic signifi- degree the domains over which pronouns must be disjoint in refer-
cance of coindexing is typically not spelled out (nor did we spell it ence coincide in languages like English with the domains within
out in our informal discussion). Even though the term "referential which reflexives must find an antecedent. Much work has been
dependence" is better than "coreference" (which is potentially done on the individuation of the syntactic domains (and on the
misleading), we will not try to reform this aspect of linguistic exact conditions) with respect to which such a generalization
practise here. As we also pointed out, there are cases where a pro- holds. There are some interesting crosslinguistic variations, but the
noun cannot depend referentially on a particular NP. This phe- basic ideas seem to apply universally. For convenience, we will
nomenon has been dubbed disjoint reference or noncoreference confine ourselves to generalizations that hold of English. The
and is indicated by having distinct indices on the pronoun and the question, then, is how to elucidate these generalizations in a
NPs that cannot serve as its antecedent. There is a significant lin- semantic theory of the kind we have been developing.
guistic literature on the subject of coreference and noncoreference, A possible first guess is to try to constrain the way in which the
which began to attract attention in the 1970s. 14 In this section we indices are associated with pronouns, so that, for example, the two
explore these phenomena in more detail and show how the syntax pronouns in (84a) are never coindexed, whereas the two in (84b)
and semantics we have developed for F 2 can help articulate a always are. The pronouns in (84c, d), on the other hand, may or
semantically more precise account of the possible and impossible may not be coindexed.
coreference relations discovered in syntactic theory. (84) a. John spoke with him about him.
A quite pervasive generalization about natural languages is that b. John spoke with her about herself
pronouns cannot corefer if they are somehow too close. Thus, for c. He thinks that he is smart. ·
example, (82a) cannot in general have the same truth conditions as d. She loves her mother.
the F 2 LF in (82b), which is equivalent to the PC formula (82c):
In other words, coindexing might be constrained to yield the fol-
(82) a. He loves him. lowing pattern of grammaticality:
b. He 1 loves him1.
c. love(x1,x1) (85) a. John spoke with him 1 about himz.
a'. *John spoke with him 2 about himz.
The two occurrences of pronouns in (82a) are not expected to refer b. John spoke with her 3 about herself3.
to the same entity, whereas the two pronouns in (82b) (or the two b'. *John spoke with her 3 about herselfz.
variables in (82c)) are required to refer to the same entity. c. He 1 thinks that he 1 is smart.
If we introduce reflexives, however, matters look very different. c'. He 1 thinks that he 3 is smart.
Sentence (83a) not only can but must have the truth conditions d. She 1 loves her 1 mother.
associated with (82b, c). We also find that a sentence like (83b), in d'. She 2 loves her 3 mother.
which the different gender presuppositions rule out coreference, is
not acceptable. The rationale behind this move is the following. Our semantics
treats pronouns like variables in a logical calculus, as the notion of
Quantification and Logical Form 181

a variable appears to be our current best formal tool for dealing The principles in (87) constitute a rudimentary version of what
with the way pronouns behave. The data in (84) and (85) suggest is called syntactic binding theory. Let us briefly see how they work
that we should keep the variables that interpret two (or more) non- to constrain the interpretation of some English sentences. For
reflexive pronouns in the same local domain distinct from each illustrative purposes, we will include some sentences not in the
other and that we should make sure that the variables that interpret current fragment, simply assuming that the F 2 treatment of pro-
reflexive pronouns have a suitable antecedent with which they nouns and their relations to antecedents is to be retained when our
might be coindexed. What our account offers in addition to that in fragment grows to include them. Principle (87a) yields the follow-
the syntactic literature is a clear account of the semantic signifi- ing pattern:
cance of coindexing or disjoint indexing.
Interestingly, effects of a closely related sort are detectable else- (88) a. *Himself1 likes him 1.
where. Specifically, disjoint-reference constraints seem to apply to b. *He 1 likes hersel£1.
relations between pronouns and other kinds of NPs, as illustrated c. *He 1 thinks that Mary likes himsel£1.
in (86). Sentence (88a) is ruled out because of the c-command condition on
(86) a. Pavarotti likes him. coindexing. Sentence (88b) is ruled out because the coindexed
b. Every student likes her. pronouns do not carry the same gender specifications. Although
c. Every student thinks that she is smart. sentence ( 88c) is not yet in our fragment, it would be ruled out in
an expanded fragment because the antecedent of the reflexive is not
In (86a) him is not expected to refer to Pavarotti. In (86b) her can- in the same local domain (in this case, the embedded S) as there-
not be bound by (and thus referentially dependent on) every stu- flexive. Principle (87b) yields the following pattern, (89a, b) being
dent, while in (86c) she can. It seems reasonable to assume that the English sentences and (89a', b') being their potential LFs gen-
these facts can be accounted for by the same general principles that erated by the fragment, some of which are filtered out by the prin-
account for the facts in (84). ciples in (87):
In our sample grammar F 2 , each pronoun carries an arbitrary in-
herent index, and all raised quantifier NPs are also given an arbi- (89) a. Every student likes her.
trary index (the traces left behind are, of course, automatically a'. *[Every studenth [e1 likes her1]
coindexed with the moved NP). Thus the grammar already gen- b. Every student thinks that she is smart.
erates all sorts of combinations of indexing. Suppose that we retain b'. [Every studenth [e1 thinks that she 1,2 is smart]
this feature of the fragment's grammar (and also retain it when we Finally, principle (87c) rules out (90a 1) as a possible LF for (90a)
expand the fragment later to include embedded sentences and other and (90b') as a possible LF for (90b):
more complex constructions) but then filter out the unwanted types
(90) a. He thinks that every student is tired.
of coindexing it will generate and also filter out sentences that lack
a'. *He 1 thinks that [[every studenth [e1 is tired]]
desired coindexing relations. The following principles, based on
a". *[every studenth [he 1 thinks that [e1 is tired] (From ( 90a)
the syntactic literature, are a first start.
via long QR)
(87) a. A reflexive pronoun must be coindexed with a b. Every student likes every student.
c-commanding argument within the minimal NP or S b'. *[Every studenth [[every studenth [e1 likes e1]]
that contains it.
To understand the full significance of these patterns, we have to
b. A nonreflexive pronoun must not be coindexed with a
determine their actual semantic import. Indexing in F 2 already
c-commanding NP within the minimal NP or S that
plays an explicit role in semantic interpretation. This allows us to
contains it.
make quite precise what truth conditions are being allowed or dis-
c. A nonpronominal NP must not be coindexed with a
allowed by the binding theory in particular cases. We are then able
c-commanding NP.
Quantification and Logical Form 183

to ask whether the predicted possible truth conditions match conditions of which are equivalent to those of PC formula (92e).
intuitions concerning the possible meanings of the constructions· (We often give PC formulas to represent the truth conditions of LFs
we are examining. in our fragment rather than spelling out the truth conditions
Given the binding theory and the general semantics that we are directly. This is just for convenience and it is always possible to
assuming, the English sentence (91a) must be assigned an LF like calculate the truth conditions directly for the F 2 fragment and for-
(91b), and it gets the truth conditions spelled out in (91c), which get about the PC equivalents; readers new to logic may sometimes
are exactly the same as those assigned to the PC formula (91d). find the LFs generated by the F 2 English fragment easier to process
(Which index is used does not matter; readers can confirm that the semantically than PC formulas.) We appear to get the right truth
truth conditions are the same, relative to suitable assignment func- conditions. Thus our rudimentary binding theory provides a good
tions.) What is crucial is that the LF in (91e), whose truth con- first approximation to the meaning of reflexives.
ditions are equivalent to those of the PC formula (91/), is filtered A further consequence of the binding theory is that sentences
out by the binding theory and thus cannot be used in interpreting like (93a) can never be assigned the LF in (93b), whose truth con-
(91a). ditions are equivalent to those offormula (93c).
(91) a. He likes himself. (93) a. Every professor likes her.
b. He 1 likes himself1. b. [Every professorh [e 1 likes her 1]
c. <g(he 1), g(he1)) E V(likes) = {<x, y): x likes y} c. 'v'x1[professor(x1)-> like(x1,x1)]
d. like(x1, xl)
To obtain the reading in (93b), the trace left by the raised quantified
e. *He 1 likes himself2 •
NP every professor would have to be co indexed with her. But this is
f like(x1, xz)
ruled out by principle (87b). Notice that the grammar of F2 would
Notice that both pronouns in (91b) and both variables in (91d) are indeed generate (93b) as a possible reading of (93a) if something
free: their interpretation depends on a particular assignment func- like principle (87b) were not adopted. This shows that a set of
tion rather than being controlled by a c-commanding quantifier. binding principles along the lines we are considering is necessary
The second pronoun, however, gets exactly the same value as- on truth-conditional grounds, for otherwise we would be predicting
signed as the first, and in this sense its interpretation depends on that (93b) is a possible meaning of (93a).
that of the first. In such cases syntacticians say that the first pro- The truth-conditional relevance of binding theory can be further
noun binds the second; as this example shows, what syntacticians confirmed by considering what would happen if, contrary to bind-
mean by binding does not always coincide with what is meant in ing theory, a sentence like (90b) could be assigned LF (90b'),
the logical-semantic tradition (although sometimes it does). The repeated here as (94a). The truth conditions for (94a) turn out to
context in which you encounter such terminology will generally be equivalent to those of the PC formula (94b), which in turn is
make clear which meaning is intended. equivalent to (94c).
Now consider sentence (92a).
(94) a. [[every student]l [[every studenth [e1 likes e1]]]
(92) a. Every professor likes herself. b. 'v'x1[student(x1)-> 'v'x1[student(x1)-> like(x1,x1)]]
b. [Every professorh [e1 likes herself1] c. 'v'x1[student(x1) - t like(x1,x1)]
c. 'v'x1[professor(x1)-> like (x1,x1)]
But clearly the sentence "Every student likes every student" lacks
d. *[Every professorh [e1 likes herself2 ]
the reading represented by (94c), which attributes liking oneself to
e. 'v'x1[professor(x1)-> like(x1,x2 )]
every student (and is consistent with each student's liking none of
The binding theory in (87) allows us to interpret (92a) as having LF the other students, a situation in which our original sentence
(92b), which has the same truth conditions as the PC formula in would be false). Similar considerations apply to (90a). Thus the
(92c). The binding theory, however, filters out LF (92d), the truth binding theory seems to yield a wide range of correct results.
Quantification and Logical Form 185

But how can we generalize the above results to the case of proper (98) a. He likes him.
names? Consider a sentence like (95). b. He 1 likes him 2
(95) Pavarotti likes himself. c. like(x1, xz)

Currently we have no way to assign indices to proper names. If we But now nothing prevents he 1 and him 2 (or x 1 and x 2 ) from refer-
add such a provision, we then have to spell out how proper ring to the same individual. Similar considerations apply to (99a),
with indices on them are interpreted. There are several ways to go with (99b) being the LF and (99c) the equivalent PC formula.
in this connection. Perhaps the simplest one within the (99) a. John likes him.
setting is to assimilate proper names to quantified NPs. That is, b. [John1 [e1 likes him 2 ]]
could let proper names undergo QR, receiving an index in c. like(John, x 2 )
process and leaving behind a coindexed trace. The semantic
Nothing prevents him 2 in (99b) (or x 2 in (99c)) from accidentally
that interprets structures with raised proper names is very easy
referring to John. These possibilities might seem not to do justice to
our intuitions about the meaning of these sentences.
(96) If NP; is a proper name, [[NP; S]]M,g = 1 iff [S]M,g' = 1, where We might try to get out of this problem by to requiring that dis-
g'(t;) = [NP;]M,g (here t; = x; or t; = e;) and otherwise g' =g. tinctly indexed pronouns and traces be mapped into distinct
(In our earlier notation, g' g[[NP;]M,g jt;]; putting this all in a individuals (or, for PC, that distinct variables get distinct values).
superscript would impair readability.) That is, we could restrict ourselves to assignments that require that
By extending QR to proper names, we now have whenever n =I= m, g(hen) =I= g(hem) and g(hen) =I= g(em) (and simi-
associate with sentence (95), which has the truth conditions in larly for the feminine and neuter pronouns). However, this condi-
(97b) (for details, see some of our earlier computations). These tion appears to be far too strong. As applied to PC, it would make
truth conditions are exactly the same as those for the PC formula in formulas like (100a) always false, and if we extended our fragment
(97c). to include identity statements in English, it would also seem to
make sentences like (95b) always false:
(97) a. [Pavarotti1 [e1 likes himsel£1]]
b. [[Pavarottit let likes himself1]]]M,g = 1 (100) a. x1 = Xz
iff [[e1 likes himself1]]M,g[Pavarotti/t1 ] = 1 b. She is Joan.
iff <Pavarotti, Pavarotti) E V(likes) = {<x, y): x likes y} Even putting identity statements aside, there are cases where
c. like(Pavarotti, Pavarotti) noncoreference seems to be suspended. The following examples
We can maintain that QR of proper names is optional. However, the adapted from Evans (1980) illustrate:
binding condition (87a) on reflexives can only be met in sentences (101) a. I know what John and he [pointing at Bill] have in
like (95) if the proper name does undergo QR, for nonpronominal common.
NPs do not carry inherent indices. This gets us the results we want. John likes Bill, and he [pointing again at Bill] likes Bill
In general, all the above considerations concerning quantified also.
NPs will extend to proper names if they are interpreted in raised b. Look, fathead, if everyone likes him [pointing at Bill], then
position. Bill must also like him.
Careful consideration of our semantics will reveal an interesting
Examples of this kind appear to be perfectly sensible and are
puzzle. Consider (98a). Our grammar requires that the pronouns be
fairly systematic. They call, therefore, for an account of some sort.
assigned different indices, and this yields an LF like that repre-
The nature of the facts in question suggests that we mig~t be deal-
sented in (98b); (98c) gives the equivalent PC formula.
ing with a partly pragmatic strategy of some sort. An interesting
Chapter 3 Quantification and Logical Form 187

proposal has been made in this connection by Reinhart (1983a 2.5 Summary
1983b, 1997). 15 Though we cannot do justice to the extent of he; This section has focused on giving a precise account of the truth
discussion, her basic idea can be sketched in the following terms. conditions of sentences containing quantified expressions and has
Sentences like (102a) and (103a) are assigned LFs such as those in also considered the semantics of pronouns. We provided a sample
(102b) and (103b) respectively. grammar, F 2 , that associates a certain class of English sentences
(102) a. He likes him. with a syntactic analysis similar to PC, and this allowed us to
b. He 1 likes him 2 transfer the model-theoretic semantic tools we introduced for PC
to the English fragment. Fragment F 2 associated with sentences
(103) a. Pavarotti likes him. structures much like those that GB syntactic studies hypothesize
b. (Pavarotti1 (e1 likes him 2 ]] are assigned at the LF level. We have also considered some of the
But the LFs in (102) and (103) are accompanied by a general inter- scope and binding phenomena that have come to constitute a
pretive strategy of the following sort: standard set of problems for any theory of natural-language mean-
ing. This enabled us to illustrate some of the issues that arise
(104) Do not interpret distinct free variables as coreferential in trying to identify a principled interface between syntax and
where the option of having bound variables is available. semantics.
So, for example, in (102a) if we wanted to express referential
dependence of the object on the subject, we should have used a
reflexive pronoun. Not choosing such an option will induce the 3 Logical Form (If)
expectation that coreference is not intended. The interpretive A main strength of the approach to meaning that we have been
strategy in (104) has a default character. There can be special rea- developing is that it provides a theory of entailment and thereby
sons for using pronouns rather than reflexives (e.g., in identity characterizes one central aspect of our semantic competence. There
statements and in Evans's example), in which case the expectation are other ways of approaching this task that are relevant to our
of noncoreference will be suspended. enterprise and that we should therefore discuss, however briefly.
In fact, this view meshes well with general pragmatic strategies, Consider the sentences below:
which we will discuss in more detail in chapter 4. The point is that (105) a. All mothers are women, and Loren is a mother.
the grammar provides us with a specific tool for expressing obliga- b. Loren is a woman.
tory coreference: reflexives. If speakers have grounds for asserting
the coreferential reading, they are misleading their audience by It is clear that (105a) entails (105b). In fact, for any pair of sentences
using nonreflexives. Note that such a strategy must still appeal to a that bear to one another the same structural relationship as ( 100a)
theory of binding along the lines sketched above. Without it, there to (100b), we can tell that the first will entail the second.
would be no way to show the truth-conditional effects we saw ear- (106) a. All As are Bs and xis an A.
lier with quantificational NPs and no source for a principle like b. xis a B.
( 104).
The thing to note here is that we have to know virtually nothing
The topics at hand are quite intricate. Our discussion is prelimi-
about what (106a) and (106b) mean in order to determine that
nary, and there are many related phenomena that we haven't even
(106b) follows from (106a). We are able to determine it just by
begun to discuss (such as, for instance, the interactions of binding
looking at the syntactic structure of(106a) and (106b), in which we
theory with wh dependencies). Yet the above considerations illus-
treat the noncontent expressions all, and, and is a as part of that
trate that a theory of binding along the lines we have been con-
structure. This suggests that we may be able to characterize some-
sidering appears to be necessary to get the right truth conditions
thing closely resembling entailment in purely syntactic terms just
for a substantial number of sentences and also has a wide-ranging
by looking at the form of argument patterns.
set of semantic consequences that must be carefully weighed.
Quantification and Logical Form 189

In fact, techniques of this sort have been widely and succ this apparatus we can now explicitly define the notions of proof
studied within logic. The complexity and ambiguity of and theorem.
language, however, have made it very hard to characterize a (110) A sequence of well-formed formulas <tf; 1 , ... , t/Jn) is a proof
ciently general notion of inference (proof or deduction) directly iff for 1 ::;; i ::;; n, tf;i is either an axiom or is derived from
terms of natural language syntax. This has led logicians to tf; 1 , ... , t/Ji-l by one of the inference rules.
struct artificial languages that are on the one hand capable
expressing significant portions of what natural language (111) A formula rjJ is a theorem iff there exists a proof <tf; 1 , ... , t/Jn)
and at the same time are endowed with a simple syntax that such that tf; n = r/J.
ports a purely syntactic characterization of the notion of a So informally, a proof is a sequence of formulas such that each
inference. PC is one such language. member of the sequence is either an axiom or derivable from
To get the flavor of what is involved in syntactically already proven formulas by means of inference rules. A theorem
ing the notion of a valid inference, let us define some of the is the last line of a proof. For the benefit of the reader unfamiliar
concepts that this requires. A formal system consists of a uu.•;;u.tt1 with these notions, let us give an example of a proof. In (112) we
(a set of symbols and a set of formation rules that determine show that p _, p (where pis any formula) can be derived from the
strings of symbols are well formed) and a deductive apparatus. axioms in (101) and hence is a theorem of PC.
deductive apparatus generally consists of a (possibly empty) set
(112) a. E_ _, ((p _, p) _, E_)) _, ((E_ _, (p _, p) _, (E_ _, E_))
axioms and a set of inference rules. The axioms are certain
tf; rjJ B tf; rjJ tf; B
mulas of the language that are taken as valid without proof.
Axiom (107b)
ence rules determine how formulas can be inferred or de
b. E_ _, ((p _, p) _, E_)) Axiom (107a)
from other formulas.
tf; rjJ tf;
In the present chapter we have formulated the PC language.
c. ((p _, (p _, p)) _, (p _, p)) From (a) and (b) by modus
a language was used to introduce certain semantic techniques.
we have provided no deductive apparatus for PC. To see how
d. p _, (p _, p) Axiom (107a)
an apparatus may be specified, let us give one of the
tf; rjJ tf;
axiomatizations of the predicate calculus.
e. p _, p From (c) and (d) by modus ponens
(107) a. tf; _, (rjJ _, tf;)
b. (tf; _, (r/J _,B))_, ((tf; _, rjJ) _, (tf; _,B))
The Greek letters written under the formulas indicate what part of
c. (-ttf; _, rr/J) _, ((-ttf; _, rp) _, tf;) the axiom each subformula corresponds to. The sequence of for-
mulas <(112a), ... , (112e)) comprises a proof and its last line, (112e),
d. Vxtf; _, tj;(t/x)
e. Vx(tf; _, rjJ) _, (Vxtf; _, VxrjJ) is a theorem of PC. Not all theorems of PC are so trivial, but they are
all proved by means of the same machinery.
Here tf; and rjJ are arbitrary formulas of PC and tf;(t/x) is the We can further define the notion that tf; is derivable from rjJ by
of uniformly substituting t for x in tf;. The choice of the axioms saying that if we take rjJ as a premise (as an additional axiom, if you
determined not by their intuitiveness but by considerations of wish), tf; is provable in terms of the deductive machinery of PC.
mal simplicity. The standard rules of inference for PC are given This gives us a notion closely related to the notion of entailment
(108) (modus ponens) and (109) (generalization). but defined in purely syntactic terms, that is, solely in terms of the
(108) From tf; and tf; _, rjJ you can infer rp. structural properties of configurations of symbols and indepen-
dently of their meaning.
(109) From tf; you can infer Vxtf;. A natural question to ask is, What exactly is the relation between
The predicate calculus as a formal system is made up of PC the syntactic characterization "tf; is derivable in PC from rjJ" and the
the axioms in (107) and inference rules (108) and (109). In terms semantic characterization "rp entails tf;"? Both are relations between
Quantification and Logical Form 191

sentences of a certain language. They are defined totally ... ~•..,..,...,, g, if [1/l]M,g 1 and [1/1 ____, rft]M,g = 1, it must also be the case that
dently of one another and yet they intuitively appear to be [rp]M,g = 1.

They can both be regarded as characterizing the conditions To complete our soundness proof, we would have to show that
which the information that 1/J conveys is in some relevant sense all the axioms in (101) are logically valid and that the generaliza-
eluded in the information that rp conveys. tion rule preserves truth. It turns out that this is indeed the case: PC
The question of how the syntactic notion of provability relates is a sound system.
the semantic notion of entailment breaks down into two subp The second question that we can ask about the relation between
Let us examine them separately. The first subpart can be put in provability and entailment is the following: whenever 1/J entails rp, is
following terms: if 1/J is derivable from rp (in some formal it also the case that rp is syntactically derivable from 1/J? An answer
such as PC), does rp entail 1/J (with respect to a given semantics to the latter question tells us whether our formal system is com-
the language)? This question is equivalent to the following: if plete, whether it characterizes as provable all the arguments that
is derivable from rp, is 1/1 true whenever rp is true? An our semantics independently characterizes as valid. If we can show
answer to this question would tell us something very imp that 1/1 entails rp but rp is not derivable from 1/J, then the formal cal-
concerning our formal system. It would tell us that the system culus would be incomplete (with respect to the given semantics). It
what it is supposed to do, namely, enable us to infer conclus can be proved that PC is complete in this sense. There are many
from premises without ever letting us infer false conclusions interesting standard formal systems that turn out to be incomplete.
true premises. If our formal system meets this requirement, it Completeness, however, signals that the system is in an important
consistent or sound. sense nonarbitrary: provable inferences, syntactically characterized,
We cannot rely on the self-evidence of the axioms or coincide exactly with valid inferences, semantically characterized.
rules to conclude that a formal system is sound. Seemingly So formal systems (or calculi) can be studied from both a syn-
problematic assumptions have often turned out to be inc tactic and a semantic point of view. The branch of logic that
And an inconsistent calculus is pretty useless: it is unable to s focuses on formal systems as provability devices is called proof
rate valid inferences from invalid ones. theory, while the one that studies them from a semantic point of
How can we prove that a formal system (for example, PC) view is called model theory. The notion of truth is absolutely cen-
sound? One way of doing it is by showing inductively that all tral to the latter. It is by playing the syntactic and semantic per-
axioms are logically valid and that its inference rules are truth spective against each other that we can learn the most about the
preserving. We illustrate the strategy by showing that (101a) is properties of a given calculus.
logically valid (or true in every model) and that modus ponens is These considerations enable us to address several questions
truth preserving. concerning the notion of logical form. The term logical form tends
Assume that for some model M and assignment g, to be used very differently by different people, which leads to con-
[1/1 ____, (rp ____, 1/J)]M,g = 0. Then, by the semantics for____, it must be the siderable confusion.
case that [1/l]M,g = 1 and[(¢____, 1/J)]M,g = 0. The latter is possible iff Consider, for example, the notion of LF introduced in section 2.1.
[rp]M,g = 1 and [1/l]M,g = 0, again by the semantics for____,, But then LF is defined as a level of syntactic structure that arises when cer-
we should have that [1/l]M,g = 1 and [1/l]M,g = 0, a contradiction. tain rules (specifically, QR) are applied to S-structures. In particu-
Therefore, for every model M and assignment g, we must have that lar, we are using LF as a level of structure at which quantifier scope
[1/J ____, (rp ____, 1/J)]M,g 1. and anaphoric dependencies are disambiguated. If we were to stop
Let us next show that modus ponens is truth preserving. Assume at that, there would be nothing specifically logical about LF. Logic,
that there is a model M and an assignment g such that [ 1/J] M,g = 1 we think, has to do with valid inference patterns. LF as such
and [1/1 ____, rp]M,g = 1 but [rp]M,g = 0. By the latter two assumptions doesn't characterize them. To do that, we need either to specify a
and the semantics for ____,, it follows that [1/l]M,g 0. But this con- proof theory for LF or a way of interpreting it that supports a defi-
tradicts our first assumption. Thus for any model M and assignment nition of entailment.
Quantification and Logical Form 193

This is not merely a quibble about the word logical. The point is Again, as we have seen above, the notions of truth and denotation
rather that something is needed to give to LF (or some other rele- in a model have proved to be formidable tools on this score.
vant level of syntactic structure) its actual semantic bite. That Thus this approach to the notions of logical form and semantic
something must incorporate at least a characterization of our in- representation might well be viable. But we fail to see how this can
tuitions about what entails what. be if these notions are not solidly .grounded on a truth-conditional
Conceivably, one might want to explore the following strategy for and denotational perspective to ensure that the truth-conditional
semantics. We might systematically (or compositionally) map the interpretation of the calculus we use is a known quantity.
relevant level of syntactic structure into a formal calculus and use
the deductive machinery of the calculus to characterize the rele-
vant semantic notions. After all, we have just seen that in a signifi- Exercise 9 Add to F 2 (display (56)) the following syntactic rules:
cant class of cases (sound and complete systems) the definitions of
"1/1 is derivable from¢" and"¢ entails 1/J" pick out exactly the same (56) r. NP---> noN
pairs of formulas (that is, 1/J is derivable from ¢ iff¢ entails 1/J). We s. NP ---> not every N
could view such a map onto a formal calculus as providing us with Give the semantics for (56r) and (56s). According to the semantics
logical forms (lfs) for English sentences. (Note that the lfs provided you have given, does (1a) entail (1b) and does (2a) entail (2b)? Does
by formal calculi are different from LFs produced by quantifier the result you get match your intuitive judgment?
raising.) Such logical forms can further be viewed as abstract char-
(1) a. No man smokes.
acterizations of the mental representations that we associate with
b. Not every man smokes.
sentences. One basis for such a claim is the following. If the mind is
a computational device, our recognizing semantic relatedness, and (2) a. Some man drinks, and no man smokes.
in particular our recognizing what entails what, would seem to be b. Not every man smokes.
based on some mental calculus that specifies semantic relations
among sentences on the basis of their formal properties. And our
theory of logical form provides us with a formal calculus that
characterizes how sentences are semantically related and makes
empirically testable predictions. This does not mean, of course,
that the mind actually goes through derivations such as the one in
(112) to assess entailments. As Stanley Peters put it, our theory is a
theory of what it is that the mind must compute, not of how it
computes it (see Johnson-Laird (1983), p. 167).
A view such as this, or some more refined variant of it, however
appealing, must, we think, be modified by two considerations.
First, mapping English into an uninterpreted calculus cannot ex-
haust all there is to say about meaning. We use English to talk about
reality, and we need some way of characterizing how this happens.
As we have tried to show, the notions of truth and denotation give
us a handle, an indispensable one, we think, on how this happens.
Second, a calculus must be sound, for otherwise it is useless.
And unless it is complete, we have no guarantee that the cor-
respondence between its theorems and valid arguments is non-
arbitrary. How do we know that a calculus has these properties?
4 Speaking, Meaning, and Doing

1 Introduction
How do people use language to convey what they mean? In this
chapter we suggest how a model-theoretic semantics can help
answer this question. The English fragment F 2 generates declarative
sentences and includes an interpretation function [ ] that recur-
sively assigns truth conditions to them. This program helps us
provide a precise account of entailment relations and other se-
mantic notions. We have also used it to explore some of the com-
plexities of possible structural constraints in English on anaphoric
relations. But it is not immediately obvious just what role a formal
account of the semantics of a language can play in helping us
understand language production and its subsequent interpretation.
We know that people use language to implement their various aims
and intentions, to do things. What we want to explore is the con-
nection between linguistic meaning and these activities.
We are not attempting to describe directly the uses of language.
Those uses, however, are part of the empirical data to which our
theoretical account of semantic competence must be responsive.
Knowing "how to do things with words," as J. L. Austin (1962) so
nicely put it, depends on our having the linguistic knowledge that a
semantic theory attempts to model. And what people do with their
language provides evidence about the nature of the grammar of that
language, including its semantic rules.
F 2 is an abstract system, a formal language that is describable in
terms that make no reference to how or why speakers might use
such a system, to their intentions, goals, or attitudes. In F 2 , for
example, we can prove that sentences (1a) and (1b) together entail
(1) a. Pavarotti hates every woman.
b. Sophia Loren is a woman.
c. Pavarotti hates Loren.
This entailment relation is independent of what speakers believe or
do; it is a matter of the relation that holds between [(1a)], [(1b)],
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 197

and [(1c)] in all models for F2 • If, however, English speakers (2) a. Pavarotti doesn't like Loren.
utter strings like these are indeed using a system like F2, we b. ([Pavarotti]M, [Loren]M) ¢:. [like]M
this entailment relation to place constraints on the kinds of
F 2 is a formql language, but we have claimed that it models a frag-
ances they can successfully use.
ment of English and that our account of the truth conditions of its
For example, we would be surprised indeed to find a
sentences is a partial account of tlie semantic knowledge of English
who utters (1a) and (1b) assertively while denying (1c) in the
speakers. We have also claimed that knowledge of this kind
discourse. Of course, (1a) could be offered as a supposition
underlies the capacity of English speakers to use (2a) to convey the
somewhat tentative assertion and then considered together
information that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren. If Joan believes that
(1b). In such a discourse the denial of (1c) would constitute
Pavarotti doesn't like Loren and wants to share this belief with
grounds for rejecting the earlier supposition (1a). In other
Alan, Joan can utter (2a), and we say that in so uttering, Joan herself
what F 2 is like places certain limits on how its sentences will
means that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren. If in uttering (2a) to Alan,
used by rational linguistic agents.
Joan cannot mean that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren, then we are
There are not only constraints but also possibilities of use that
inclined to say that F2 is not a fragment of the language Joan uses
helps us understand. For example, someone who takes you
for communicating with Alan. That a sentence means that p in a
to believe that (1b) is true can sensibly assert (1a) with the aim
language is somehow connected to its being reliably useable by
conveying (1c) to you: (1a) might be offered, for instance, to
speakers of that language to mean that p and to communicate that
lenge your assertion that no one hates Sophia Loren. Sentence (1
meaning to one another.
will be a good tool for that job in the imagined context
We already have some account of what it is for a sentence, a lin-
because of the entailment relations that Fz specifies (and
guistic expression, to mean that p. In this section we want to say
speaker's belief that you recognize those relations). In offering Fz
something about what it is for a speaker to mean that p, and we
a fragment of English, we make a claim that ordinary speakers
want to consider in somewhat more detail how these two distinct
English can in fact use its sentences in certain ways in si
notions of meaning might be related to one another. (As is custom-
discourse and cannot use them in other ways. It is facts
ary in linguistic discussions, the word speaker is not confined to
English speakers that constitute our evidence that they knov;
those who are audibly uttering expressions but includes any utterer
use a system something like F 2 • The grammar of Fz does not 1
of a linguistic expression, no matter what medium the expression is
however, specify how speakers might use and hearers interpret
uttered in.)
sentences. The relation between that grammar and facts like
What is it for a speaker A to mean that p in uttering sentence a?
about linguistic communication is necessarily indirect. To
When you read sentence (2a) above, you undoubtedly did not
stand it better, we will draw on work in linguistic pragmatics
understand us, the authors of this book, to mean that Pavarotti
the philosophy of language.
doesn't like Loren even though you understand that the expression
we produced means that. We have simply mentioned that sentence
as an example without really using it. We are expressing no opin-
2 Expression Meaning and Speaker's Meaning . . .
ions at all about Pavarotti's attitude toward Loren when we cite this
Our focus so far has been on assigning meaning to lmgmst!C
sentence to illustrate our general points about sentence meaning. In
pressions. The meaning of a declarative sentence, we have said,
general, we don't intend you to draw any conclusions about what
associated with its truth conditions: a sentence 11. means that P
we think of Pavarotti or Loren on the basis of the many example
in case 11. is true in situation v iff p, where p is some sentence of
sentences we provide. Although the sentences in our examples are
metalanguage that gives the truth conditions for 11.. So, for
associated with meanings in English and thus can be understood
we say that the meaning of (2a) is a proposition tha: .is tr.ue
both by us and our readers, our uttering those sentences as exam-
model M just in case [(2a)]M = 1 in M; this propos1t10n lS
ples does not involve our using them to mean something. In such
pressed by the set-theoretic statement (2b).
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 199

cases the expressions mean something, but the speakers are enhanced if her addressees do not recognize what she seeks to
using them to mean something. For someone to mean something accomplish.
uttering a sentence, more is required than just producing a written Grice considers a number of examples of utterances for which we
phonetic realization of the sentence, knowing what the sentence might say that a speaker intended to convey that p but where we
self means, and expecting one's addressee to share that would nonetheless not be willing to say that the speaker meant that
What more is needed? Grice (1957; 1989, chap. 14) provided p. On the basis of such examples he arrives at something like the
ground-breaking discussion of this question that linked".• UJL"~'u 1 following definition:
use of linguistic expressions with various other ways people
(3) Speaker A means that pin uttering a to hearer B iff A intends
communicate and also with the more general notion of meaning
the utterance of a to lead B to adopt a certain attitude toward
evidence ("Those clouds mean rain"). These ideas are
p, and A also intends B's recognition of A's intention to be
further in Grice (1968; 1969; 1982; reprinted as 1989, chaps. 6,
instrumental in producing in B the intended attitude toward p.
and 18). Part of Grice's answer is implicit in our explanation of
our mentioning example sentences like (Za) does not involve The phrase a certain attitude in definition (3) is neutral about
using them to mean anything. We do not mean that P exactly what sort of attitude might be involved. Different attitudes
doesn't like Loren because we do not intend for you to take in the addressee will be aimed at if the speaker is doing something
utterance of sentence (Za) as evidence of anything at all like directing or inquiring rather than stating. We set aside such
Pavarotti and Loren. This suggests that one who does utter (Za) complications for now but discuss some of them in subsequent
mean that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren is using the sentence sections.
order to produce in others a certain opinion aboutPavarotti's Suppose a speaker utters (Za), "Pavarotti doesn't like Loren," and
ings toward Loren. A speaker who means that Pavarotti doesn't means exactly what it literally says, that is, what is expressed by
Loren must intend addressess to take the utterance as the set-theoretic statement in (Zb). Such a speaker, according to (3),
about Pavarotti's relation to Loren. is intending to produce in a potential audience something like the
Intending one's utterance to count as evidence that some belief that Pavarotti is not linked by the like relation to Loren, or at
sition p is true is not all that is required for one to mean that least a recognition in that audience that the speaker so believes. We
Suppose that Joan utters (Za) intending to impress others by might say that in uttering (Za), the speaker intends to express the
them evidence of intimate acquaintance with certain famous information that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren and to mean thereby
ple. We would not say that in uttering (Za), Joan means that she that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren. The speaker presents that propo-
intimately acquainted with Pavarotti and Loren. Although she sition as true in some situation, as a piece of information about that
tends her addressees to take the utterance as evidence of such situation. The information is conveyed if the audience is led to be-
acquaintance, she does not intend to accomplish this effect th-r·nlllcrt lieve on the basis of understanding the utterance (and taking the
getting the addressees to recognize her intention to give them ·speaker to be a reliable informant) that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren
formation about her relation to Pavarotti and Loren. To mean in the situation being discussed.
p, says Grice, is to intend addressees to recognize one's .."·"'""~· When the speaker means that p in uttering a, p is said to be the
that one's utterance is to count as evidence that p, and speaker's meaning (or the occasion meaning) of that utterance of a.
to intend that the addressee's recognition of one's intention be What a itself means is expression meaning or timeless meaning
strumental in achieving the intended effect. In the case of J (Grice's expression) or linguistic meaning or the semantic value of
name-dropping, her intention to impress could be achieved even a. If in uttering sentence (Za) Joan means that (Zb) is true, then the
the hearer did not take her to have intended that effect (perhaps speaker's meaning of that utterance of (Za), what Joan herself
hearer assumes she is modest but reasons that she must know means, and the expression meaning, what the sentence she uttered
famous folk to be so well informed about their relationship). means, completely coincide. Joan means just exactly what the sen-
fact, Joan's chances of success in impressing others are prob tence she has uttered means.
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 201

Grice proposes that speaker's meaning intends to attribute to her the property of being hungry. Then
tence a has proposition p as its timeless meaning, he we can speak of a convention to refer to Pavarotti when uttering
when there is some sort of convention in uttering a to mean that Pavarotti or a convention to attribute hunger to the subject when
We can recast this suggestion as (4): uttering is hungry. But we need not link linguistic expressions so
(4) Sentence a means that p in community C iff there is some directly with the actions that the speaker conventionally performs
convention established among the members of C that to utter in using them. Speaker's meaning for many expressions below the
is to mean that p (or that the speaker's meaning of utterances clausal level may be just a matter of what the speaker intends
of a is p). the expression to contribute to the overall speaker's meaning of the
utterance in which it occurs; that is, it may be just a matter of the
More concretely, the English sentence "Pavarotti doesn't contribution the expression makes to what the speaker means in
Loren" has the truth conditions that it does in F 2 because .wu~•r:srJ producing that utterance.
speakers have established certain conventions specifying that The fundamental idea, however it is elaborated, is that con-
uttering the sentence, they mean that Pavarotti doesn't like ventions of language exist to help language users with their projects
Actually working out the details of such a proposal requires of affecting one another by producing bursts of noise, stretches of
ration of the notion of a convention; Lewis (1969) and written symbols, or manual displays (as in American Sign Lan-
(1972) are examples ofthe many philosophical contributions to guage). Utterances are reliably informative because conventions
endeavor that are relevant for thinking about how humans regulate what speakers mean in producing them.
bursts of sound (or assemblages of marks) with con uuL>uucu It might be objected that we cannot equate what sentences mean
meaning. Grice himself (1982; 1989, chap. 18) moved to the with norms for what speakers mean in uttering them because many
that it is communitywide social norms or canons of propriety gov- natural language sentences are ambiguous or include context-
erning speaker's meaning that underlie expression meaning rather dependent elements and thus- are not assigned truth conditions
than conventions as such. But the central idea is much the same: directly but only relative to something else. Suppose we have an
conventional linguistic meaning derives from socially regulated or utterance of (5a); then the proposition that the sentence expresses
conventionalized intentional actions. is defined only relative to an If (logical form), either an If inter-
Of course, norms that regulate what speakers mean in uttering preted in the same way as the PC formula (5b) or one interpreted
sentences cannot be established sentence by sentence. JJt»HJlH>l~­ like ( 5c).
expression meaning as suggested in (4) cannot be the full story,
since speakers must know how to calculate sentential meanings (5) a. Someone likes everyone.
recursively. When we said that there is a convention for meaning b. 3xVy like (x, y)
that Pavarotti does not like Loren in uttering "Pavarotti doesn't like c. Vy3x like (x, y)
Loren," we were speaking somewhat loosely. Rather, there must be In using such a sentence to mean something, the speaker must
norms for using words and syntactic structures that yield the result select one logical form rather than the other (and intend addressees
that utterances of the sentence in question conventionally convey to select that same logical form). What the speaker means coincides
the informational content in question. What might such usage con- with what the expression she utters means if what she means
ventions be like? is identical with either the proposition expressed by (5b) or that
Certain lower-level expressions can be linked in a fairly direct expressed by (5c). It is plausible to think ofthe speaker as selecting
way to speaker's intentions in using them. For example, in using not just a string to utter, something like (5a), but a structured
Pavarotti, speakers can intend to refer to LucianoPavarotti. We can expression in which the relative scopes of the quantified NPs are
say that the speaker's reference of Pavarotti is Pavarotti if it is Pa- indicated (for example, a structure in which QR is applied to the
varotti to whom the speaker intends to refer when uttering Pavar- subject NP before it is applied to the object NP, a structure in-
otti. Or in saying of someone that she is hungry, we can say that one terpreted like (5c)). If we take the uttered expression to consist not
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 203

just of a string of words but also of an If, we can think of s incomplete. A sentence with a free pronoun does not express a
producing (5a) as also uttering (5b) or (5c) and thus able to proposition by itself. A contextual parameter must be supplied for
exactly what the expression she uttered means. English often interpreting the pronoun in order to arrive at the propositional
stress and intonation to help convey which If is associated with content expressed by such a sentence. Something like the assign-
uttered string. Nonetheless, it is quite possible for the same ment function must be included in any account of the semantic
phonetic form to be associated with different lfo. But to contribution of pronouns. As we will see in chapters 5 and 6, pro-
what is meant a hearer must know which expression, which If, nouns are not the only expressions whose semantic interpretation
speaker is uttering. requires reference to such parameters set by speakers. For a sen-
Other sorts of ambiguities can be thought of in much the tence with context-sensitive elements, what a speaker convention-
way. In the case of lexical ambiguities, for example, we make ally means in uttering it is what that sentence means relative to
plausible assumption that there are multiple lexical entries for some contextual parameter (often one that the speaker may help set
ambiguous form, several "words" at some abstract level, and by pointing or in some other way).
define an interpretation relative to a particular entry in the ·~"··~•nJ The speaker's intentions are relevant both to disambiguation-
(associating, for example, bull with the entry equivalent to choosing a particular logical form or lexical item-and to complet-
bovine rather than with that equivalent to nonsense). ing meaning for expressions that require further contextual specifi-
ambiguities in surface structure require that we interpret relative cation-establishing reference for pronouns, for example. But our
a particular constituent structure (associating competent descriptions of disambiguation and of such phenomena as refer-
and men, for example, with [[competent women] and [men]] ence fixing can be given without referring to a speaker's interest in
than with [competent [women and men]]). producing certain kinds of effects, as we have seen in the preceding
Similarly, to associate an utterance of (6a) with a unique chapters.
sition, say (6b), we need some contextual specification of a Grice introduces the notion of the applied timeless meaning of
for the pronoun, and in the preceding chapter we used the the utterance of IX to cover disambiguation and contextual specifi-
ment function g for this job. cation. In his view the semantic rules of the language will tell
us what propositions are potentially available as applied timeless
(6) a. He likes Loren.
meanings for a particular sentence IX, what speakers might conven-
b. <g(he 1 ), [Loren]M) E [like]M
tionally mean in uttering IX. Where a string is ambiguous or incom-
Again the speaker is responsible for the pointing needed to plete, the rules tell us that an utterance of IX expresses one of the
lish just what she has said. In this case too there is a sense in propositions available as a disambiguation or completion. The lin-
we might say that a speaker means exactly what she has said if guistic rules themselves do not say which such proposition is ex-
include in what she has said the contextually established pressed by uttering the string, just as the syntactic rules do not tell
ment of a value to the pronoun. What the speaker has said us what string will be uttered. A speaker selects one of the applied
the hearer to look for a pointing. Actually figuring out who is timeless meanings associated by "timeless" linguistic conventions
indicated may be a complex matter and certainly involves with the string uttered.
than just linguistic knowledge. For example, the speaker may Can we now stop? If Alice means that p in uttering IX as an
at a group that the hearer judges to include only one man (on English sentence, must we conclude that the (applied timeless)
basis of a cursory assessment of clothing, hairstyles, body meaning of IX in English is that p? Not always. Alice's meaning may
etc.); the hearer will use perceptual information, beliefs about be different from the meaning of IX because Alice made a mistake. She
based differences in appearance, and various other kinds of intended to utter a sentence with applied timeless meaning that p,
Nonetheless, someone who points at Pavarotti and utters (6a) but what she actually said does not have p as an applied timeless
mean that Pavarotti likes Loren has said directly and literally meaning. A slip of the tongue and the word like is subtituted for
she means. It is just that what has been uttered is in some hate: Alice utters (7a), although she actually intended to utter (7b).
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 205

(7) a. Pavarotti likes Loren. We are generally quite charitable in our interpretations in such
b. Pavarotti hates Loren. cases. So long as the hearer is able to zero in on the same individual
Or perhaps Alice is new to English and mistakenly thinks that (7 as the speaker, little significance is attached to whether the content
means in English what (7b) actually means. In both cases her of the description offered by the speaker to establish the individual
take is linguistic; for some reason the expression actually as referent does or does not actua.lly apply to that individual.
does not have in English the meaning that she intended her Donnellan contrasts such cases with attributive uses of definite
ance to have. descriptions, where the speaker wants to say something about
There are also nonlinguistic mistakes that create a nnroT'•~~~ whoever the description fits. Suppose Keith had uttered (10) in the
circumstances above.
between the speaker's meaning and the meaning of the ~~·uv•u.
uttered. For example, Keith may see Pavarotti and Bond ~--··'-'·"' (10) The man drinking a martini will get drunk.
in the corner at a cocktail party; Pavarotti is drinking a
It is still possible that Keith simply wants to refer to Pavarotti and
liquid with an olive floating in it from a martini glass, and
to say that he will get drunk. It seems more likely, however, that he
drinking a colorless liquid with ice cubes in it from a tall
means that whoever is drinking the martini will get drunk. Keith
Believing that Pavarotti is drinking a martini and Bond water,
might only have been told that one man is drinking a martini and
utters (8), thinking that what it expresses is the proposition
have no idea which one that is (being too far away to see their
Pavarotti doesn't like Loren.
glasses) and want to say that the one who is will get drunk.
(8) The man drinking the martini doesn't like Loren. Kripke (1 977) has argued persuasively that the man drinking the
Unbeknownst to Keith, however, Pavarotti's martini glass martini has the same semantic reference at the party (it happens
tains only water (and an olive), whereas Bond is drinking not to be Bond), whether Keith uses it referentially or attributively.
but a very large martini poured over ice in a tall glass. So what Semantic reference is determined by timeless meaning and the
sentence uttered actually expresses is the proposition that circumstances. The speaker's reference of that NP, however,. may
doesn't like Loren, though what Keith intended to say was vary, according to whether it is being used to refer to some indi-
Pavarotti doesn't like Loren. Suppose Keith is speaking to vidual independently identified by the speaker or to refer to what-
who knows about the deceptive glasses. Sheila may un ever individual the chosen description actually applies to. In the
perfectly well what he means because she correctly realizes that case described above where Keith uttered (8) and was using the
intended simply to refer to a particular person-Pavarotti, the definite description to refer to Pavarotti (inaccurately, as it hap-
who is actually drinking water from a martini glass. It pens), what Keith means in uttering (8), the speaker's meaning of
seems that Sheila also knows that what Keith said was not what that utterance, is different from the applied timeless meaning of his
meant. If she further knows that Pavarotti doesn't like utterance of (8), the linguistic meaning of what he said. We don't
whereas Bond does, Sheila will probably be willing to take even need to suppose that Keith is mistaken about the facts. He
as having expressed a truth, although she is aware that, might know of the deceptive glasses but take his hearer to be con-
interpreted, his words expressed a falsehood. fused and thus use a description that he has reason to think will
Donnellan ( 1966) speaks of referential uses of definite work for the hearer, even though he himself knows the description
is inaccurate.
tions in cases like this where the speaker uses the content of
description only as a device for referring to some individual. Of course, whethe'r or not semantic and speaker reference coin-
Keith known that the individual was Pavarotti, he might cide, a speaker who uses a description refer!'mtially often means
uttered our familiar (Za), "Pavarotti doesn't like Loren." something different from one who uses it attributively. The attrib-
he had known about the glasses and their contents, he might utive speaker may intend to convey that there is some connection
between an individual's. satisfying the description and having the
uttered (9).
property ascribed to the referent of the description, whereas the
(9) The man drinking water doesn't like Loren. referential speaker intends to attribute the property on the basis of
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 207

what is believed about some individual independently of claim that the referential/attributive distinction reflects systematic
that individual satisfies the definite description used to refer to ambiguity in definite descriptions.
(or her). But these further messages that might sometimes be
veyed do not support the view that there is a systematic s
ambiguity underlying the distinction between referential and Grice himself was especially int!ilrested in cases where no lin-
tributive uses of a definite description. Notice that sentence guistic or other mistakes are involved and yet we are still inclined
could be used in circumstances where we might hesitate to say to say that what the speaker means is not the same as the applied
its use was either purely attributive or purely referential. timeless meaning of the utterance. One kind of example is illus-
might want to say of some particular man that he will get trated by the sentences in (11).
but he might be using as evidence for his saying so his belief
(11) a. [Linda]; met the love of[her]; life, and [she]; got married.
the man is drinking a martini. Keith might believe that if Bond
b. [Linda]; got married, and [she]; met the love of [her]; life.
drinking a martini, he will not get drunk, but that Pavarotti is
ticularly susceptible to martinis. The difference between attribu We typically interpret (11a) as part of a happy story, whereas (11b)
and referential uses of definite descriptions thus seems to be suggests an impending tragedy, or at least a hard choice for Linda.
matter of the sort of evidence a speaker is depending on in Yet the semantic value we have assigned to and would lead us to
that some property or other holds of the individual who "'a'-""''"'" assign the same applied timeless meaning to utterances of the two
the description. sentences (relative to some particular reference for Linda).
Consider (12), an example Carston (1988) attributes to Deirdre
Exercise 1 As evidence that a purely referential interpretation of a u.v.uuuo
(12) It is better to meet the love of your life and get married than to
description like the man drinking the martini is assigned by get married and meet the love of your life.
mantic rules as a sense of that expression, some have pointed
Sheila's willingness to accept Keith's utterance of (8) as true Utterance of such a sentence would be pretty near incompre-
in case the intended referent of the man drinking the hensible if we supposed that the speaker meant the same thing by
(Pavarotti) doesn't like Loren. That is, they claim that she is to meet the love of your life and get married and to get married and
ing to understand the utterance on the referential into-,·n.,.ntn meet the love of your life. In actual discourse the proposition a
and appraise its truth on that interpretation. Interpreted attribu- speaker means to convey in uttering a particular expression often
tively, the sentence is false; the martini drinker (Bond) does goes beyond what the expression itself means. A cooperative hearer
Loren. will interpret the sentences in (11) as if the speaker had actually
Let us now suppose a different scenario in which Keith utters (1 uttered the corresponding sentences in ( 13).
below, intending thereby to say of the man holding the (13) a. [Linda]; met [the love of [her]; life]jo and then [she]; got
glass (Pavarotti, as it happens) that he doesn't like Loren. married to [him]j·
(1) Bond doesn't like Loren. b. [Linda]; got married to [sonieone]jo and then [she]; met
[the love of [her]; life]k·
Again, a hearer who realizes which man is Bond and which
Pavarotti may nonetheless also realize to which man Keith in· This filling in or expansion of what linguistic meaning provides is
tended to refer and thus charitably treat him as having expressed similar to looking for the referent of a free pronoun. But there is an
truth, while nonetheless recognizing that if Bond is interpreted as important difference: the grammar directs the hearer to find a pro-
referring to Bond, then the sentence expresses a falsehood. Should nominal referent but not to provide a further specification of what
we conclude that sentence (1) above is ambiguous? Discuss the speaker means with the kind of sentence illustrated above.
example and its implications for this argument in support of the Nonetheless, there are principles that guide hearers in their inter-
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 209

pretive tasks, whether disambiguating, fixing referents, or adding appropriate for a warning, for which time is short, than for reports
what the speaker has actually encoded further aspects of the on one's own mental states, recountings of past history, or state-
ositional content intended to be taken as if expressed. We need ments of general truths.
spell out everything unambiguously and in full detail to Let us recall what happened to the boy in this old tale. Because
another. The reason is that interpretation can make use not only he uttered (14a) time after time in the absence of any wolf, the
linguistic knowledge but also of knowledge about the context townspeople ceased to heed his cries. When the wolf finally did
which we attempt communication and of expectations about show up, the boy was unable to use "Wolf!" to convey that infor-
another as conventionally cooperative communicators. mation to them. Lewis (1969) has argued that there are conventions
There is a fable about the boy who cried "Wolf!" many of truthfulness for speakers and of trust for hearers that prevail in
when no wolf was around and then was unable to issue the communities that successfully use some language for communicat-
warning when a wolf finally did show up. The people who ing with one another. The boy who cried "Wolf!" when none was
heard the boy utter (14a) filled in his incomplete utterance. there had failed to heed the truthfulness convention, eventually
doing this, they took him to mean that something like the n"'",...'"' eroding the convention oftrust on the part of his hearers and finally
tion expressed by (14b) was true rather than something like what undermining completely his capacity to convey information to
expressed by (14c, d or e). them.
(14) a. Wolf!
The central point is that what an expression means is directly
b. I have just seen a wolf near here. tied to conventions for what speakers can mean in uttering it. What
c. I have just been thinking about a wolf. a sentence means can be thought of as its truth conditions relative
d. My father once saw a wolf in a field far from here. to disambiguation and contextual specification. But what an ex-
e. A wolf can be dangerous. pression means is only part of the evidence available to the hearer
for interpreting what the speaker means in uttering it. Speakers
Why? There is a general presumption that what the boy means may succeed in meaning something different or more than the
uttering (14a) will be a proposition that is immediately relevant meaning of the expressions they have uttered because they and
the addressees. It must also be a proposition addressees can their audience share certain expectations about one another as
reasonably expected to identify just by recognizing the communicators and certain beliefs about the situation in which
intention to convey it. The boy crying "Wolf!" is responsible they are placed. We may succeed in meaning propositions that
somehow making the proposition he intends to convey manifest have not been fully stated: recall sentence (14), "It is better to meet
his behavior (of which his utterance of the expression in question the love of your life and get married than to get married and meet
one component) in the context in which he produces the the love of your life." Cooperative hearers use not only their lin-
Otherwise, he cannot intend to have it recognized without guistic knowledge but other information as well to figure out what
work on the part of his audience. Again it was Grice who first speakers mean in their utterances, correcting linguistic and other
to explain in such terms how we are able to interpret beyond mistakes and providing necessary specifications of propositional
letter of what is said. In section 5 we will say more about content that speakers have not overtly expressed.
theory of conversation, a theory that has been developed in a So far we have considered only cases where speakers intend to
ety of different ways (see, for example, Bach and Harnish 19 speak directly and conventionally. Although the speaker may have
Horn 1989, Levinson 1983, and Sperber and Wilson 1986). made mistakes or not been fully explicit, the point of the utterance
central point is that the proposition in (14b) is a message of is not tied to any contrast between expression meaning and speaker
critical importance or relevance to the audience than the others meaning. Yet language can be used in more complex ways. A
is also easier to retrieve from the boy's utterance, on the speaker can suggest some proposition and an attitude toward it but
tion that the boy is doing his communicative job properly. The at the same time present this proposition and associated attitude as
treme brevity of the utterance might be a clue, since it is only suggested and not as directly part of what the utterance
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 211

means. In such cases there is a clear sense in which there are expressed (such as bring her a glass of water). In such an utterance
different levels on which the speaker performs acts of meaning Molly's meaning is complex. On one level there is the proposition
something. that she would like a glass of water presented as something to be
For an example let's return to (2a), "Pavarotti doesn't like believed by the hearer (on the basis of trusting her report). On
Loren." It is quite possible for Joan to utter this to Alan and to mean another level there is the proposition that she will receive a glass of
not only that Pavarotti doesn't like Loren but also the stronger water, whose truth Molly intends to be ensured by an act of the
proposition that Pavarotti hates Loren, the proposition that would hearer's. We will consider such cases of so-called indirect speech
be assigned as the timeless meaning of sentence ( lc), "Pavarotti acts in more detail in section 4 below.
hates Loren." Joan may make this stronger proposition manifest to Fresh metaphors and many other figurative uses of language are
Alan in a number of ways. She can pronounce the utterance with also to be understood in terms of multiple levels of speaker's
intonation and stress that direct Alan to examine it critically. She meaning. All such cases of multileveled communication go beyond
can rely on his using their shared belief in Pavarotti's passionate simply conveying information and do other things as well: they
nature (he is never neutral about his acquaintances: he either loves amuse or give aesthetic pleasure or enhance social relationships. A
them or hates them). But her understatement is intended to be speaker may utter an expression that is conventionally informative,
noticed as such: we cannot properly report her as simply having yet conveying that information or any other propositional content
said that Pavarotti hates Loren, for such a report omits the effect may be quite secondary to the speaker's intentions, or perhaps not
achieved by her choice of the less direct mode of expression. She even a purpose at all. Nonetheless, analyzing straightforward com-
does not intend simply to get Alan to come to believe that Pavarotti munication will be an essential preliminary to developing illumi-
hates Loren by recognizing that she so believes (and intends him to nating accounts of these more complex uses of language, and so we
recognize that belief). If that had been her only purpose, the sen- will focus on the simpler cases.
sible strategy would have been to utter "Pavarotti hates Loren." Her Grice notes only that the speaker's meaning can diverge from
circumlocution must be intended to get Alan to recognize some- what the uttered expression means; he does not comment on the
thing else, perhaps her own delicacy in putting the matter. Or fact that such divergence may sometimes itself also be part of what
Joan might utter (2a) ironically, intending to convey to Alan that the speaker means. But the general spirit of Grice's proposal seems
Pavarotti does like Loren (perhaps very much indeed). Here too it to us quite compatible with these added complexities. We can use
will be important for Alan to take Joan not only as informing him Grice's ideas to help flesh out an account of the relation between
that Pavarotti like Loren but also as doing so by uttering something linguistic meaning and what speakers mean in uttering linguistic
that both she and he take to mean just the opposite. expressions. The abstract semantic systems we are exploring in
In either case Joan is doing something more complicated than developing a partial account of the truth conditions for English
straightforward communication. There is an explicit level on which sentences represent theories of conventions developed by com-
she means something, and there is an implicit level on which she . munities of English speakers for what members of the community
means something else-something more in the case where she has are to mean in uttering such sentences. These are conventions that
understated the situation and something quite opposite in the case regulate speakers' actions in presenting their beliefs (and other
where she is speaking ironically. In each case, part of the effect she attitudes) to produce effects on the beliefs (and other attitudes) of
intends her utterance to have is produced by the contrast between their audience. Speakers need not always adhere to these con-
these two different levels of her meaning. ventions in order to achieve the effects they intend to achieve
Another kind of multilevel communication is illustrated by the through their utterances: they sometimes make mistakes, and they
example we used in chapter 1 to illustrate that interpreting utter- often rely on hearers to fill in aspects of meaning they have not
ances involves more than just semantic knowledge. We noted that explicitly expressed. In other words, what a speaker means may be
Molly might utter "I'd like a glass of water" and thereby suggest different from what the expression uttered means on the occasion of
that the hearer ought to do something to satisfy the desire she has its utterance. In addition, there may be multiple levels of speaker's
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 213

meaning: a single utterance may be the instrument for a complex speaker expresses the view that Bond's giving every fish to Loren
communicative act that depends for its effect in part on contrast holds in, and in some sense describes, the circumstances that are
between explicit and implicit levels of speaker's meaning. None- being spoken of (which are often but not always those of the con-
theless, linguistic meaning-truth conditions for declarative sen- text in which the sentence is being uttered). And although (15b)
tences, for example-can be fruitfully thought of as in some sense and (15c) seem in some sense to involve the same circumstances as
created by conventions for performing certain kinds of actions in- those described by (15a), we do not speak of either (15b) or (15c) as
tended to affect others in specific ways. true or false relative to a circumstance.
Thus the pragmatic notion of speaker's meaning complements Sentence (15a) is, of course, declarative, (15b) interrogative, and
our semantic account of linguistic meaning in two ways. First, it (15c) imperative. Only sentence (15a) is generated by the grammar
provides insight into what it is for a linguistic expression to be used in Fz, which also assigns it truth conditions of the appropriate kind.
meaningfully: it provides a way to connect abstract linguistic Relative to any circumstance in which (15a) is assigned a value of
meaning with what people do by means of using language. We will 1, (15b) is truly answerable by (15a) or more briefly with yes. And
further explore these connections in the following two sections on relative to such a circumstance, (15c) is complied with or satisfied;
sentential force and speech acts. Second, it helps us understand if Bond responds with acceptance to an utterance of (15c), then he
how interpretations of actual utterances might sometimes fail to undertakes to bring such a circumstance into existence. Our truth-
coincide with the linguistically assigned interpretations of the conditional analysis of (15a) thus seems also to be relevant to an
expressions uttered. In the final section on conversational im- analysis of (15b) and (15c), but we will want to assign a different
plicatures we explore pragmatic principles of conversation that semantic value to each of the three sentences.
supplement semantic knowledge in successful communication. One thing that seems obvious is that sentences (15a-c) are de-
signed to do different things when produced in a discourse. Thus
whatever semantic value we assign to them should reflect and help
3 Sentential Force and Discourse Dynamics explain this distinction in potential discourse functions. Suppose
We might think of assigning truth conditions to a sentence as Pavarotti utters the sentences in (15). In English we can report each
equivalent to representing the circumstances in which the sentence act by using the corresponding sentence in (16).
is true, the content of the sentence. As our discussion above of
(16) a. Pavarotti stated that Bond gives every fish to Loren.
speaker's meaning makes clear, however, talk does not consist
b. Pavarotti asked whether Bond gives every fish to Loren.
simply of presenting sequences of such representations of content
c. Pavarotti told Bond to give every fish to Loren.
in a way analogous to projecting a series of pictures on a screen.
Consider the sentences in (15). Putting it so suggests why it seems so natural to distinguish two
aspects of the meaning of a sentence: its content (what (15a-c)
(15) a. Bond gives every fish to Loren.
seem, more or less, to have in common) and sentential force (what
b. Does Bond give every fish to Loren?
the grammar assigns to the sentence to indicate how that content is
c. Give every fish to Loren, Bond.
conventionally presented). Sentential force in this sense would
In uttering (15a) and thereby meaning what that sentence expresses, be the semantic correlate of sentence type (what differentiates
a speaker must be thought of not only as producing a representation the three sentences in (15) most sharply). Informally, declarative,
of certain circumstances (those in which Bond gives every fish to interrogative, and imperative sentence forces can be identified with
Loren) but also as doing something more in which the content of stating that, asking whether, and telling to, respectively, as sug-
what is said will figure. A speaker might, for example, be affirming gested by the verbs and complementizers in (16) that introduce the
that the circumstances of which she is speaking can be accurately common subordinate clause. (The subordinate clause in (16c) is
so represented and inviting the other conversationalists to join in tenseless in contrast to the tensed clauses in (16a, b); we will here
such an affirmation. Among other things, in stating that (15a), a ignore this difference.) Most of this section will be devoted to
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 215

exploring the question of how an account of declarative force, value (in circumstance v) but a function that takes S together with
ing that, might be incorporated in an expanded semantic theory. the discourse context in which it is uttered and yields a new dis-
The idea of treating the meaning of a sentence as consisting course context. Where S is a declarative sentence, this function will
two components, force and content, is an old one. For indirectly also specify the truth conditions of S. These ideas are
Frege distinguished the thought that a declarative sentence developed with the help of some formal machinery that we present
presses from the assertion that what is expressed by the sentence in chapters 5 and 6, and we will give a somewhat fuller (though
true. More generally, he took sentential force to be what still sketchy) picture of them in our discussion of presupposition in
tinguishes the meaning or semantic value of different sentfmc chapter 6. At this point we just want to outline a bit of the intuitive
types: picture that underlies recent formal discourse theories and the
An interrogative sentence and an assertoric [or declarative} dynamic semantics associated with them.
contain the same thought; but the assertoric sentence How can we formally characterize a conversation or a narrative
something else as well, namely, assertion. The interrogative or any other situation in which language is used? Adopting the
tence contains something more too . ... Therefore, two things m simplifying idealization that each utterance is a sentence, we can
be distinguished in an assertoric sentence: the content, which it start by thinking of a discourse as a sequence of sentences,
in common with the corresponding propositional question; S1 , S 2 , ... , Sn. (Of course, in conversation many utterances are not
assertion. 1 complete sentences, but we can ignore this complication for our
present purposes.) The effect of uttering sentence Sj generally de-
Frege introduced 1- to mark what he called "assertoric force" pends not just on Sj itself but on what has been uttered before, on
what we have called "declarative force." Others have used the preceding sentences S1 , ... , Sj-l· The sentences may all be pro-
such as ? and ! to mark interrogative and imperative forces. duced by the same person (perhaps an author or a monologuist), or
representations like those in (17) are sometimes proposed (see, in the more interesting case of interactive discourse, different peo-
example, Lyons 1977). ple may utter different sentences. The purpose of the discourse may
(17) a. 1- [Bond give every fish to Loren] be to amuse or inspire by speaking of some fictional beings and
b. ? [Bond give every fish to Loren] their affairs, to impress someone by assuming certain attitudes or
c. ! [Bond give every fish to Loren] access to information, to gossip about friends and colleagues, to
make plans for dinner together next week, to work on revising the
Early transformational grammar had abstract syntactic markers Q
book one is writing, to pool information on a murder in an effort
and Imp that were supposed to be interpreted as interrogative and
to crack the case, and so on. The abstract structure of discourse
imperative force, respectively. But just writing such markers gives
dynamics is essentially the same, however, no matter what partic-
us no account of their value. In this section we will discuss some
ular aims and attitudes the participants happen to have.
recent formal approaches to declarative force.
As a discourse progresses, its participants jointly develop a slate
Linguistically assigned sentential forces need not be thought of
of discourse commitments. Here we follow Stalnaker and Heim and
as something mysterious and completely unlike the values avail-
call this slate the common ground. Other things can (and generally
able within a formal model-theoretic approach to semantic analy-
do) happen as discourse proceeds, but we want to focus on this
sis. Considerable recent work in formal semantics and discourse
component of the discourse context. The common ground is the
theory is developing the view that sentential force can be modeled
participants' mutually developed public view of what they are
as a context-changing function: the change that uttering a particular
talking about. It always includes the thoughts they have stated to
sentence type produces in a discourse context. Extending the pro-
one another insofar as such thoughts have not been challenged or
posals made in Stalnaker (1974, 1978) and elsewhere, Heim (1983)
suggests that we take our [S], the value assigned to a declarative
The common ground is of special importance in understanding
sentence by the recursive rules of interpretation, to be not a truth
Frege's assertive force. In conversations where we each express
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 217

what we genuinely believe (and the others protest if any case, conversationalists aim at consistency in developing the
expresses a belief from which they dissent), the common ground common ground. (We put aside for the moment the special kind
mutually believed, although it may not include all that we be of playing with paradox that Lewis Carroll has immortalized.)
since we may keep some beliefs private. And, of course, we Whether we are constructing the common ground as fantasy or fact,
engage in discourse in which no participant takes the thoughts the same general process goes on. Constructing the common
pressed to be genuine beliefs (perhaps there is some pretense ground as fact does have a kind of analytical priority, however.
the benefit of a third party). In all such cases, however, dis Even telling a story is a matter of speaking as if we were recounting
participants are acting as if they mutually believe the c real events.
ground. As the philosopher G. E. Moore observed many years Discourse participants look at the common ground as a coherent
there is something paradoxical in following an assertion of p and connected set of thoughts because the discourse process is a
"but I don't believe p." Such a tag can only be construed as collaborative delineation of a story or a view of circumstances-
on a different discourse level-an aside, perhaps, to signal that actual, possible, or perhaps desirable. As new thoughts are added,
common ground to which p is added is not one to be taken they serve to refine and further specify which circumstances par-
ously. Although the proposition that the asserter of p does not ticipants are speaking of. An example will illustrate. Suppose
lieve p is perfectly consistent with p, the common ground c someone utters (18a), and suppose the common ground already
include at the same level as p the proposition that a discourse contains (18b).
ticipant does not believe p. It is in this sense that the comtm<Jn (18) a. Pavarotti likes Loren.
ground represents what the conversationalists purport to mutually
b. Loren is a woman.
The discourse need not start with a clean slate. Most dis The common ground will now contain not only (18a) but also (19),
take some commonplaces to be already in play (for example, which is entailed by the set consisting of(18a) and (18b).
humans direct utterances toward one another intending thereby to (19) Pavarotti likes a woman.
achieve some kind of effect) or accessible if needed (for example,
that water relieves thirst). Where the discourse starts depends on In light of the inconsistency of liking and hating (which is not
the previous shared history of the participants, the purposes of the explicitly represented in fragment F 2 ), the common ground as now
discourse, and so on. Of course, one participant might take certain developed would be inconsistent with the proposition expressed
implicit assumptions as "in play," as part of the common ground, by (20).
that the other participant was leaving out. For analytical purposes (20) Pavarotti hates every woman.
we can ignore this complication, since conversationalists who dis-
Thus in this discourse all circumstances in which (20) is true are
cover such differences usually make adjustments in order to ensure
eliminated from consideration after acceptance of (18a). If an
successful communication.
utterance of (18a) is followed by an utterance of (20), the common
The common ground is not just a set of unconnected thoughts.
ground must be revised, for (20) challenges (18a) and, where the
As new propositions are added to it, participants consider what
domain includes women other than Loren, tries to add additional
those added thoughts entail in light of their being joined to those
information. It may be that one or another conversationalist will
previously entered. We "put two and two together" and draw con-
win out; then either (18a) or (20) is added to the common ground.
clusions. Where these conclusions seem blatantly obvious, partic-
If (20) is added and (18a) abandoned but (18b) retained, then, of
ipants often don't bother to state them explicitly but simply add
course, (21) is also added.
them unspoken to the growing common ground. If a proposition is
a candidate for joining the common ground but is recognized as (21) Pavarotti hates Loren.
inconsistent with what is already there, then either the new can-
If there's an impasse, thEm neither (18a) nor (20) can remain in
didate is rejected or some earlier commitment is abandoned. In
the common ground. (The exchange will still leave some mark: the
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 219

common ground will include certain higher-level propositions Because assert that tends to suggest that what is asserted is sup-
the effect that one speaker stated that Pavarotti likes Loren and posed not to be already part of the common ground, the more neu-
another speaker stated that Pavarotti hates every woman.) What tral state that is a less misleading designation of the sentential force
can't do is to act as if the circumstances we are speaking of are of declaratives uttered in a discourse. Authors frequently do, how-
in which both (18a) and (20) express truths, because no such ever, use assert in the very abstract sense we are associating with
cumstances could exist in light of our assumptions about Loren state. (See Grice 1989, 18, for a discussion of different uses of as-
the incompatibility of liking and hating. sert.) Indeed, even state is sometimes used to imply something
Of course, without (18b) in the common ground, (20) is not about the speaker's beliefs and motives that goes beyond what we
compatible with (18a). Suppose the common ground so far does mean here, but this seems to be the best familiar term for our pres-
include (18b); for all that has been said or tacitly assumed, Loren ent purposes.
a man or a fish or a book. In such a discourse (18a) can easily In chapter 6 we show how ideas of this kind can be incorpo-
joined by (20) and the common ground will then also be rated in a formal account of the meaning of declaratives in dis-
to include (22). course. Matters are considerably more complex than we have
(22) Loren is not a woman. indicated here, of course. We address some of these complexities in
chapter 6.
And so on. At each stage the common ground determines a set One complication that we do not consider in chapter 6 is the
circumstances that remain as live possibilities for the discourse. possibility of subordinated commitment slates or grounds: assump-
live possibility at a given discourse stage is any circumstance tions entertained simply to explore their consequences, for exam-
such that all the propositions in the common ground at that ple. Someone might utter (23a), and someone else respond with
of the discourse are true in v. The view being developed in (23b), which might lead the first speaker to state (23c).
discourse does not encompass circumstances where some un-
(23) a. Suppose Bond hates every woman.
challenged uttered sentence gets a value of 0 or where some prop-
osition that is recognized as a consequence of what has been said is b. Then [Bond]; would hate [Loren]j, but [he]; likes [her]j·
false. Semantic theory cannot, of course, provide any insight into c. So, Bond doesn't hate every woman.
how conversationalists resolve conflicts that arise as they partici- We also, of course, need to elaborate our account of discourse
pate in the collaborative development of the common ground. Yet structure and context-changing functions in order to deal with in-
it does have quite a lot to say about the options open to them. terrogative and imperative forces. In chapter 2 we discussed an
Although assertive utterances are generally intended to enrich approach to the semantics of an interrogative (originally due to
the common ground and narrow the live possibilities, this isn't Karttunen 1977) as a set of propositions; intuitively, these are the
essential to stating that p. So, for example, at some later stage in a propositions that constitute true answers to the interrogative. Other
discourse where (18a) was added unchallenged to the common more recent work has developed related ideas (see, for example,
ground, someone might utter that same sentence again, perhaps as Groenendijk and Stokhof 1984 and Engdahl 1986). Dynamic or
a way of reminding everyone that it is on the slate. Or after the first discourse-theoretic accounts of interrogative meaning might, for
utterance of (18a) someone might utter (1 9), which is already con- example, take the interrogative to indicate that the common ground
veyed by assertion (18a) plus assumption (18b); one might want to is to include some family of propositions whose membership is to
do this to make sure that the commitment to (19) receives explicit be identified. Imperative meaning has been far less extensively
attention. The formal structure of the declarative is the same in studied; an informal proposal in Sperber and Wilson (1986) is that
both cases, however: the proposition expressed by the simple de- an imperative presents some proposition as controllable by the
clarative sentence uttered is added to the common ground (though addressee and as desirable for someone, typically the speaker (re-
the addition may sometimes be redundant), and any possibilities quests or commands) or the addressee (suggestions). Much more
inconsistent with it are excluded from the set of live possibilities. detailed work needs to be done to develop these and similar ideas
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 221

explicitly enough to incorporate them into either a static tern. A sentence like (24) may be uttered with any one of these
conditional semantics or the dynamic discourse semantics that illocutionary forces.
have begun to sketch here. 2
(24) The bull is in the field.
The dynamic approach seems especially promising for
ing an abstract semantic theory of sentential meaning that Yet in all cases, we are proposi!].g, an utterance of a declarative
beyond truth conditions. The fundamental idea is that there is sentence S in which the speaker means anything at all is a state-
formal discourse structure associated with contexts of ntt"'""·~-·. ment: it places the proposition expressed by S in the common
We have informally discussed the common ground it includes ground and discards any possibilities rendered no longer live
the associated live possibilities. The interpretation function [ ] because of their inconsistency with that (possibly new) informa-
be thought of as recursively specifying functions that map the set tion. Where does this abstract stating act fit in a larger theory of the
live possibilities at one discourse stage into another set (or actions we perform when speaking?
change discourse structure in some other way). As we have
sented it, [S], the interpretation of a simple declarative s
maps the preexisting common ground onto a new common 4.1 The kinds of things we do with words
enriched by addition of the content expressed by that sentence It is useful at this point to draw from Austin's analysis of speech
concomitantly maps the live possibilities onto a set restricted acts. Austin introduced a tripartite classification of acts performed
the elimination of prior possibilities inconsistent with that when a person speaks. We have already m·entioned two such
pressed content). We will give actual examples of rules a~:>~;; 1 grnn 1 classes: locutionary and illocutionary acts. The locutionary act,
such functions in chapter 6. These rules can plausibly be thought Austin said, "is roughly equivalent to uttering a certain sentence
as encompassing both what Frege meant by sentential content with a certain sense and reference, which again is roughly equiva-
what he meant by sentential force. They give some substance to lent to 'meaning' in the traditional sense. " 3 That is, a locutionary
notion that the meaning of a sentence involves both static act is an act of producing a meaningful linguistic expression as
conditional content and dynamic force, which specifies such: the parrot producing a string of sounds that sound like "Polly
of how that content functions in discourse. wants a cracker" is not performing a locutionary act, because the
There are many unanswered questions about how best to bird does not have access to the linguistic structure and meaning
menta dynamic approach to sentential force. A more complex that would underlie an English speaker's making the same noises.
than we have suggested could well emerge even for de An illocutionary act is performed in saying something. In engag-
sentences. It might be desirable, for example, to assign uu.Lv.L•ou• ing in locutionary acts, we generally "also perform illocutionary
dynamic semantic values to declaratives with the same acts such as informing, ordering, warning, undertaking, etc., i.e.
conditional content but distinct structures (for example, ' utterances which have a certain (conventional) force." Here the
cried, or she laughed" and "If Joan didn't cry, she laughed"). speaker's motives go beyond simply saying something. An illocu-
can proceed at this point, however, without addressing such tionary act is part of the speaker's strategy in meaningfully using
as these. language; the speaker offers the utterance as a particular sort of
interactional move. And we may, if lucky, also "perform perlocu-
tionary acts: what we bring about or achieve by saying something,
4 Speech Acts such as convincing, persuading, deterring" (italics added). Unlike
Our reconstruction of Fregeau sentential force is, as we have noted, locutionary and illocutionary acts, perlocutionary acts are per-
very abstract. What we called "stating that," for example, is much formed only if the speaker's strategy actually succeeds in accom-
less concrete than claiming, guessing, reminding, warning, or plishing its desired aims. Austin's interest lay primarily in
threatening, the kinds of speech acts that many have thought must elucidating the nature of illocutionary acts, for it is in them, his
be the literal force associated with sentences by the language sys- discussion makes clear, that full-blooded force resides, what an
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 223

utterance is meant as by its utterer, how it figures in the What an utterance is meant as, what illocutionary act the speaker
general plan of action. intends, depends on how the utterance fits into the speaker's pur-
We will use Austin's notion of locutionary act to cover the poses for the particular discourse and conceptions of what role this
abstract notion of sentential force that we sketched for u'"'"''"'"'"'" particular utterance might play in advancing those purposes. If the
in section 3. 1. The locutionary act performed in uttering speaker is a sergeant and charged with responsibility for fish dis-
(24) can be thought of as the act of stating that the bull is in tribution and Bond is a private serving under the speaker's com-
field: the act of placing the proposition in question in the mand, then an utterance of (15c), "Give every fish to Loren, Bond,"
ground (at some level) of some discourse or other. But which is likely to be meant as an order. Suppose, however, that the
course, and what are the aims of that discourse? Does the speaker knows that Loren adores people who give her fish and
ground include propositions about bulls being dangerous, utters (15c) in response to Bond's uttering (25).
whether the addressee is considering entering the field,
(25) I'd do anything to get Sophia Loren to like me.
whether the speaker intends to attempt to place the addressee
the field along with the bull, about what the addressee In this case, (15c) is almost certainly meant as a suggestion.
want (imagine uttering (24) to someone longing to display The same locutionary act seems to have been performed in both
handling capabilities)? What are the motives prompting p cases. The imperative sentence (15c) tells Bond to give every fish to
mance of this particular locutionary act in this particular uVJLHUAI
Loren in each case. There is no inclination to say that in either case
Just stating that the bull is in the field is not enough to make the speaker is somehow using language nonliterally or indirectly
speaker an illocutionary agent engaged in a goal-directed (as when one uses (24), "The bull is in the field," as a way to tell
of action: abstract sentential force alone, what we could call someone to close a gate). We need not suppose multiple levels of
tionary force, does not result in illocutionary force. speaker meaning for either the order or the suggestion. There seems
To use language is to perform some kind of illocutionary act: to be a clear sense in which the speaker means the same thing in
actual performance of a locutionary act will figure in some way both cases, even though the two utterances count as quite different
other in a plan of action that gives it illocutionary significance. interactional moves. On the face of it, the difference seems to lie in
it is by no means clear that the speaker needs to make how the act fits with the rest of the discourse and with the larger
elements of that plan manifest to the addressee to have success contextual factors relevant to understanding what the speaker is
accomplished the illocutionary act that the utterance is meant doing (such as the rank relation between speaker and addressee
Suppose the speaker means utterance (24) as a warning, yet and assumptions about the relative interests of speaker and
addressee does not so take it, perhaps having no thought of addressee in the addressee's acting as the imperative says).
potential peril from the bull's being in the field. Has the addres Of course, speakers can, and often do, make their specific illocu-
failed to retrieve the message that the speaker intended to r-rn,uc.nY tionary aims explicit. We have a vocabulary for distinguishing
Not necessarily, although the addressee would not be fully cogni among kinds of illocutionary acts. The speaker might utter (15c)
zant of why the speaker spoke as she or he did. Of course, if and follow that utterance by saying one of the sentences in (26).
speaker means the utterance of (24) to serve not only as a direct (26) a. And that's an order.
statement that the bull is in the field but also as an indirect direc- b. That's the best suggestion I can come up with.
tive to the addressee to shut the gate to the field, then the speaker
means to convey to the hearer more than what the sentence itself Interestingly, indirect illocutionary aims cannot be made explicit
expresses. But is that directive meant as a suggestion or an order? in this same way. Even where it is abundantly clear that the
It is not clear that the speaker must intend to convey what kind of speaker intends an utterance of (24) to convey a directive to close
directive the utterance is meant as. In other words, intended illo- the gate, the force of that implicit directive cannot be explicitly
cutionary acts need not be a part of what the speaker means in the specified just by continuing with one of the tags in (26). Thus it
sense elucidated by Grice's notion of speaker's meaning. seems plausible to say that(15c), "Give every fish to Loren, Bond,"
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 225

but not (24), "The bull is in the field," may be pragmatically indeed, the very action (or state) that the content of the declarative
fied as intended directly to convey an order or a suggestion and in some sense describes. The sentences in (29) can all be uttered as
this difference is linked to differences in the locutionary performatives.
associated with declaratives and imperatives. But the possibility
(29) a. We find the defendant guilty as charged. [To utter (a) is to
specifying imperatives as orders or suggestions or some other
find the defendant guilty as charged.]
ety of directive does not mean, we think, that the imperative
b. I bid three clubs. [To utter (b) is to bid three clubs.]
ambiguous between ordering and suggesting and other kinds
c. I promise to split any lottery winnings with you. [To utter
directive. Indeed, not all meaningful uses of imperatives need
(c) is to promise to split any lottery winnings with the
characterizable as any specific kind of illocutionary act of the
tive variety. The imperative sentences in (27), for example,
d. You're fired. [To utter (d) can be to fire the addressee.]
rarely, if ever, be used to direct the addressee to do something,
e. You may have dessert tonight. [To utter (e) can be to grant
they need not be viewed as therefore nonliteral or indirect.
permission to the addressee to have dessert on the night of
(27) a. Have a wonderful time. [A wish] the utterance.]
b. Swim at your own risk. [A warning] f. Gentlemen are requested to wear jackets and ties to dinner.
c. Help yourself to whatever you want. [Permission or an [To utter (f) can be to request gentlemen to wear jackets
offer] and ties to dinner. J
In other words, whatever imperative meaning might amount to, As with the declaratives in (28) used to promise, wish, or give per-
seems that it must be sufficiently abstract to accommodate a mission, it seems pointless for anyone to appraise the truth of any
range of actions. of the sentences in (29) on the occasion of its performative utter-
We offered no specific proposal for imperative force, for imp ance. What is special about these performative utterances is that
tive meaning as a function that maps the discourse structure at the utterance itself is what makes the circumstances fit the words:
stage into a new structure. But we did make some suggestions about the utterance of sentence S brings into existence the very (non-
declarative force, and declaratives are used with an even wider linguistic) facts that S states obtain. As Searle noted recently, it is
range of apparently direct illocutionary force than imperatives. only because of beliefs we have about causal relations that we don't
(28) a. I'll be there right away. [A promise or an offer] think that sentences like those in (30) can be uttered performatively
by ordinary people.4
b. She must get better. [A wish]
c. You may watch "Sesame Street" tomorrow. [Permission] (30) a. You can now see. [Addressed to a blind person by a
How can promises, wishes, and permissions be literal acts of
stating? We'll say something more about cases like those in (28) b. The engine is turning over. [Used as a way of starting
one's car]
when we discuss modal semantics in chapter 5. Sentence (28a) in
particular points to a class of utterances that Austin examined in Someone's seeing or an engine's starting requires, most of us
some detail and that might prima facie seem to undermine our believe, more than a verbal trigger. Social actions, however, are
claim that what declaratives do by virtue of their meaning is state: different. Words have the power, for example, to terminate a per-
add propositions to the common ground. We now turn to consider son's employment.
explicitly performative utterances of declarative sentences. On our account, the grammar itself specifies that utterances of
declaratives with content p (literally) state that p. Such statements
may be true or false as applied to particular circumstances, so one
4.2 Performative utterances question is why appraisal of truth seems quite beside the point for
A pe1jormative utterance of a declarative does not simply convey a performative utterances of declaratives. According to the view
message but performs some substantive action (or initiates a state), we sketched of sentential force, linguistic rules assign to (29c) the
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 227

locutionary act of stating that the speaker promises to share can also be used either to report or to grant permission). Similarly,
lottery winnings with the addressee. How, then, can we (29f) can be performatively issued by the hotel management or
the intuitive judgment that uttering this sentence counts as constatively uttered by a disgruntled man who has just learned the
ing the promise that, according to our analysis, it states has hotel's policy and is explaining to his companion why they ought
made? Promising is not a species of stating in the way to go buy themselves jackets and ties. ·
ordering is a species of telling someone to do something, yet Performati vity of an utterance is a matter of what the words mean
is nothing indirect, nonconventional, or multileveled about and the powers accorded people by virtue of certain social in-
(29c) to make a promise. Indeed, its potential as a tool for stitutions (the legal system with provision for trial by jury in the
ing seems intimately tied to what it means. Yet we have case of issuing a verdict, the rules of a game in the case of bidding,
that illocutionary forces are not in general a part of sen a particular form oflabor organization in the case of firing). In some
cases the relevant social institutions are very diffuse and little is
What Austin did was force analysts to recognize and think needed beyond the words themselves for a speaker to succeed in
the vast number of apparent counterexamples to an account performing the act in question (promising, for example).
the one we have offered of the sentential force of declaratives This is not to say that performatives always work as they should
Declarative sentences used performatively seem prima facie to any more than so-called constatives do. Just as constatives can be
counterexamples to a unified account of declarative sentential appraised as true or false in particular circumstances, performa-
because what they principally do is so very different from tives can be appraised as felicitous or infelicitous in various ways,
With ordinary statements, which Austin called constatives, Austin noted. We have, he claimed, certain conventions that in
appropriate to challenge or confirm them with a no or yes. The some sense regulate our use of performatives; he called these felic-
or yes is an assessment of whether the statement fits the circum- ity conditions. If felicity conditions governing use of a certain form
stances being described, whether the statement ought to remain in fail to be satisfied, then use of the form may misfire. If an utterance
the common ground to which the speaker adds it. Whether misfires, then the act in question does not come off (because the
words fit the circumstances is a matter of their truth in those proper kinds of conventions are nonexistent, the persons and cir-
cumstances (of what we think of as truth simpliciter, where the cumstances for such a performance are wrong, or the procedures
circumstances being spoken of are conversationalists' actual sur- are executed improperly or incompletely). The rules of bridge, for
roundings). But it would generally be absurd to say "Yes" or "No" instance, don't permit (29b) to effect the indicated bid (three clubs)
or "That's right" or "That's wrong" to a performative utterance of at a point in the game where another player has just bid three hearts
the kind illustrated in (29). Such utterances actually create the cir- or if the speaker is the partner of the person who just completed the
cumstances they speak of, so the question of whether they fit those preceding bid. In such contexts we sometimes say things like "No
circumstances seems quite irrelevant.
you don't" (perhaps more often, "No; you can't") to indicate that
Sentences (29a-c) are explicit performatives; the matrix verb the attempted alteration of the circumstances to fit the words did
phrase labels the illocutionary act that an utterance of the sentence not take place.
performs (finding guilty, bidding three clubs, promising, etc.). Sen- Failure to satisfy other conditions may yield what Austin calls
tences (29d-f) are interesting because they can be used either to an abuse rather than a misfire. For example, an act is insincere if
report (a constative use) or to do (a performative use). Uttering participants don't have the thoughts and feelings they purport to
(29d) is indeed to fire someone ifthe speaker has the appropriate have in performing it. If I utter (29c), "I promise to split any lottery
position with respect to the addressee; if not, the sentence may be winnings with you," yet have no intention of sharing any winnings
used to convey news of a firing to the affected party (for example, with you, then my promise is insincere. We do, of course, abuse
the receptionist might so inform an employee headed into the performatives in such ways. As insincere promise is nonetheless a
boss's office). And (29e) may either report on some third party's promise: the promiser has made a commitment whether or not she
having given permission or actually confer that permission ((28c) or he intends to honor it.
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 229

Constatives too can suffer abuses or misfires, Austin notes.

the bid. That the utterer is viewed as having stated that she bids
would be an abuse in the constative case. A misfire might be
three clubs seems supported by the fact that considerations of con-
utterance of (31) in a context with no elephant in view.
sistency and of commitment to the consequences of propositions
(31) That elephant is huge. [Speaker points to empty space.] added to the common ground operate in exactly the same way that
What makes the explicit performatives like those in (29a-c) they do when a bid is reported after it is made. Thus either of the
interesting is that they seem to wear their illocutionary forces sentences in (32) could be used to report an utterance of (29b)
their linguistic sleeves. It is tempting to say that an utterance (perhaps one of the other bridge players is getting deaf and did not
(29c), "I promise to split any lottery winnings with you," hear what was said).
a promise simply by virtue of what the sentence means, in (32) a. She bid three clubs.
the same way as a constative utterance of sentence (31) counts b. She said that she bid three clubs.
the literal making of a statement. In the following section we
As soon as the utterance is interpreted, the proposition that the
cuss Searle's account of the felicity conditions that govern the
utterer bid three clubs is entered into the common ground. In other
of promising, an act that does not require the explicit rules and
words, to utter (29b) is not only to bid three clubs but also to state
stitutional arrangements that govern bidding or issuing a
finding or discharging an employee. that one is so doing, a statement that is true unless the act misfires.
And, as Ginet observes, the statement is not just an incidental
Several approaches have been suggested for explaining n.,,,..t,_,,...,.,
accompaniment to the bid but the very means of making the bid.
ative utterances of declaratives like those in (28) and (29)
We discuss briefly in chapter 5 a truth-conditional analysis of
at the same time continuing to maintain that such declaratives
may by Angelika Kratzer that suggests why and how, in certain
indeed state in our abstract sense. We have observed that perform-
contexts, its use can be thought of as granting permission rather
ative utterances are not sensibly assessed in terms of their
than merely informing the addressee that permission has been
spondence to the facts because in a real sense they create, ra
granted. Roughly, the idea is that a sentence like (29e), "You may
than simply report, that correspondence. (Here we except the
have dessert tonight," says that the proposition that the addressee
porting uses that (29d-f) allow.) Even so, a possible explanation
have dessert on the night of the day of the utterance is compatible
performative power may be found in a more thorough consider-
with some contextually supplied set of propositions. The proposi-
ation of truth conditions. It seems plausible that certain words (bid,
tions in this case delimit permissible actions of the addressee. The
promise, fire) are such that their contribution to truth-conditi
set may be given in various ways: linguistic rules do not specify
content ensures that their utterance in certain contexts is self-
how membership in the set is determined. If there is some third
verifying. Because of the nature of bidding, to state that one is
party with authority over the addressee, the speaker may simply be
doing so is to do so and thus to state a truth. Indeed, it seems
reporting on the proposition that the authority has placed in the
plausible, as Ginet (1979) proposed, that the statement that one is
set of permissible actions. Perhaps, however, the speaker is the
bidding three clubs serves as the instrument for doing so. Perform-
addressee's mother, with authority over the dessert issue. In this
atives, he argues, both state and do, and the doing is effected by
means of the stating. case the speaker herself may place the proposition about eating
dessert into the set of propositions describing permissible actions
Our interest in an utterance of (29b) is in its effect on the non-
and may report that action at the same time she does it.
linguistic circumstances, on the bridge game, for example. At the
same time, though, we take the utterance to expand the common
ground like other assertive utterances: just after it is made, other
Exercise 2 We will say that a verb is a performative verb if it can be used as the
players will act as if there is a general commitment to the utterer's
highest verb in a sentence that can be uttered performatively. Which
having made the bid in question. The utterer issues a statement that
of the following verbs is a performative? For those that are, illus-
the bid is being made, and the statement is instrumental in making
trate their performative potential in a sentence that can be uttered
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 231

performatively. For those that are not, explain briefly why. Here to particular kinds of illocutionary acts are more interesting for our
the verbs: concede, apologize, believe, say, thank, frighten, present purposes of considering whether sentential meaning
forget, wish, hint, nominate, oppose, joke, congratulate, doubt. specifies illocutionary force, as Searle has urged.
Searle's account of promising can illustrate his general program
of explaining how utterances ac8omplish the illocutionary aims
Performatives offer a strong prima facie challenge to any agents intend them to serve. What does it take for an utterance to be
that distinguishes sharply between locutionary force, which a felicitous promise? Searle, in an important early paper (1965),
associated with sentences as such and makes no reference to discusses this question in some detail. 5 For an utterance to be a
goals or plans of speakers, and the action that gives illocu felicitous illocutionary act of any kind, Searle suggests, conditions
forces their potency, the action fueled by conversationalists' of normal "input" (speaking) and "output" (understanding) are
attitudes, and beliefs. We do not think, however, that p required. Presumed are knowledge of the language, non-impaired
constitute an insuperable problem for a program that places illo cognitive functioning, adequate peripheral processing, and so on.
tionary force outside the realm of semantics proper. Work (Is a promise defective or infelicitous if the addressee cannot
Kratzer's makes us optimistic that continued detailed inve understand it? There is disagreement on such matters, but the con-
tions of the truth-conditional content of a wide range of expre troversy is not really over analysis of illocutionary acts but over the
will help explain many of the very interesting observations more general notion of speaker's meaning.) The utterance must not
have been made about language functions by focusing on the p be simply offered for inspection but must be meant by its utterer.
formative utterances. We turn to look next at Searle's account of Searle proposes to exclude jokes, playacting, and similar non-
conventions that delineate the activity of promising, drawing serious uses, but as noted earlier, we presumably understand what
that account a rather different moral than Searle does. is going on in such cases through reference to serious communica-
tions. The actor is a locutionary agent serving as a mouthpiece for a
different illocutionary agent, the character in the play. A speaker
4.3 lllocutionary acts as the subject of semantics who is joking in promising to give the addressee caviar for break-
Searle (1969) took the Austinian program one step further, fast every morning achieves her effect through pretending to make
that there is any useful distinction between locutionary and illo- such a promise. The joke lies in seeing that the speaker is assuming
cutionary acts. If Searle is right, then there is no justification the guise of some fictive illocutionary agent. Searle's general input
treating the meaning of a sentence uttered in a discourse as distinct and output conditions are intended to focus attention on canonical
from the illocutionary force of that utterance. While we disagree cases of a fully competent speaker's straightforwardly meaning an
sharply with Searle on this point, we do think that there is much utterance to convey some message to a fully competent addressee
to be learned from his thoughtful analyses of different kinds of in a situation where external factors do not interfere with the exer-
illocutionary acts and the conventions governing them. Searle cise of linguistic competence.
develops the idea that social conventions for selecting particular As Frege did, Searle draws a distinction between propositional
linguistic expressions to achieve particular aims in some sense content and force, although for Searle propositional content is what
constitute the linguistic meaning of the expressions used. Searle's a speaker (not a sentence) expresses and force is illocutionary
idea is similar to Grice's view of linguistic meaning as deriving force. The conventions that govern an illocutionary act of a certain
from social norms that regulate speaker's meaning (see section 2 kind (usually) include a basic propositional content condition (a
above), but unlike Grice, Searle sees no place for a truth-conditional convention that the speaker must express some proposition) and a
notion of linguistic meaning. Some of the proposed conventions are more specific condition about the content of the expressed propo-
very general ones relevant for virtually all felicitous uses of lan- sition that arises from the nature of the particular illocutionary act
guage and can be compared with Gricean maxims for conducting in question. In general, Searle suggests, there will be two compo-
conversations, which we discuss below in section 5. Those specific nents to an utterance: a component that expresses its propositional
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 233

content and the illocutionary force indicating device (IFID). ally have the aims and intentions that their acts present them as
include syntactic devices like inversion, intonational markers, having, guaranteeing that the illocutionary force is a reliable indi-
of course the various performative verbs: warn, apologize, cator of the motives producing the utterance. A promise is only
promise. Often the context "will make it clear what the sincere if the speaker actually intends to do A. To allow for insin-
tionary force of the utterance is, without its being necessary cere promises, we might weaken this requirement and require only
invoke the appropriate function indicating device. " 6 This c that the speaker intends to assume responsibility for doing A. An
ignored in Searle's later discussion, but we will return to it b insincere promise is nonetheless a promise, just as a lie is none-
In the case of a promise, Searle proposes, the propositional theless a claim about how things are.
tent must predicate a future act or acts of the speaker (and The essential condition of a promise, Searle proposes, is that
of anyone else). Some utterances seem to be promises yet do promisers intend their utterances to be understood as placing them
explicitly express propositions that predicate an act of the under an obligation to do A. Exactly what this obligation amounts
("I promise that our dog will not chase your cat again"). to is not spelled out. Note, however, that the speaker's assuming an
views promises whose overt content concerns events that are obligation to do A entails that A is a future act of the speaker, so
acts of the speaker as elliptical expressions of promises to take this essential condition entails the proposHional content condition
action to ensure that the (explicitly) promised event will occur mentioned earlier. In general, what Searle identifies as essential
promise to see to it that our dog will not ... "). He could also, conditions for particular illocutionary acts constrain propositional
course, take a similar line with other promises that do not content conditions for the acts in question.
plicitly predicate actions (such as "I promise not to smoke'' or Finally, Searle formulates conditions intended to ensure both
promise to be awake when you return"). The specific propo that the speaker means the promise to be understood as such by the
content conditions that Searle elaborates for the illocutionary act addressee, and that the expression uttered is a conventional means
promising are not peculiar to promising but are shared by other of accomplishing that illocutionary aim. What concerns us here
locutionary acts in the general class that Searle calls commis is Searle's formulation of this second condition, namely, that the
acts in which agents commit themselves to some course of semantic rules of the language used by speaker and addressee are
(including not only promises but also offers and threats). in the such that the expression in question "is correctly and sincerely
discussion of Searle's conditions on promising, we will use A uttered if and only if [the preceding] conditions ... obtain" (Searle
designate the act that a speaker makes a commitment to pertOJrm 1965, 236). Taken at face value, this might seem to imply that no
when she utters a commissive. other expression could also perform the same function, that there is
Certain preparatmy conditions constrain the common ~L•JuJLLu only one way "correctly and sincerely" to make a given promise.
that must be in place for the promise to occur. Intuitively, an Searle must intend that the expression in question is correctly and
cutionary act must be thought to have some point; there must be sincerely uttered only if conditions like the above hold and that if
some reason for the speaker to perform it. For a promise and other those conditions obtain, its utterance would be correct (and sin-
commissives, this amounts to the requirement that it is not already cere) though there might also be other expressions that could be
part of the common ground prior to the speaker's commissive act correctly and sincerely uttered.
that she will perform A. The condition that distinguishes a promise Indeed, what Searle finally offers us is a formulation of the puta-
from other commissives is that it is part of the common ground that tive "semantical" rules governing use of an IFID P for promising
the addressee would like the speaker to perform A. Of course, the (for example, a simple present tense promise whose subject is I).
speaker may think the addressee wants A but be wrong in that We simplify Searle's account slightly.
judgment; in cases where the common ground is differently ap-
praised or where the common ground includes false propositions, (33) a. The propositional content rule. Pis to be uttered only in
the promise is arguably defective. the context of a sentence (or larger stretch of discourse)
Besides preparatory conditions, illocutionary acts also generally predicating some future act A of the speaker.
have sincerity conditions. Basically, these require that agents actu- b. The preparatory rule. Pis to be uttered only if the
addressee is positively oriented toward A and the speaker
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 235

so believes (and only if it is not obvious to the a Even the sentences in (35), however, can be followed by (36).
prior to this utterance that the speaker will do A).
(36) That's a promise.
c. The sincerity rule. Pis to be uttered only if the speaker
intends to do A. An explanation of such facts should be found in an account of the
d. The essential rule. Uttering P counts as undertaking an differences among alternative ways of talking about the future.
obligation to do A. Interestingly, the rules in (33) seem relevant not only to specify-
As Searle notes, the sincerity rule can be dropped, in which ing what is required for correct use of a device for indicating a
the rules govern correct (and not correct and sincere) uses of promise such as that in (34a) but also to specifying what is required
promising device; insincerity is always a possibility and for a correct use of promise in a sentence like (37), where it con-
special needs to be said about it in the case of promises. The tributes to propositional content and does not indicate illocu-
tionary force.
half of the preparatory rule specifies what is taken for granted
an act is offered as a promise; the second half is designed to (37) Joan promised to write Lee next week.
out pointless or unnecessary promises, although such promises
Like bidding three clubs, promising is an activity governed by
be made. The propositional content rule must be taken
certain rules. Both promising and bidding can be effected just by
more loosely than stated: for example, the act(s) in question
saying something. The rules of bridge that define bidding are ex-
not be explicitly stated but need only be somehow inferrable
plicit; the social conventions that define promising are implicit and
the context. The essential rule guarantees that an utterance
closely tied to conventions for using language. To utter (34a) and
promise must somehow allow us to infer some act or class of
mean what one says is to make a promise; an obligation henceforth
that the speaker can undertake an obligation to do. The ess
exists. We have further suggested (contra Searle) that uttering ( 34a)
rule and the positive half of the preparatory rule constitute the
is also to state that one is making such a commitment to the ad-
of what it is to perform the illocutionary act of promising.
dressee, just as uttering (37) states that Joan has so committed her-
As Searle also notes, explicit devices for indicating illo
self to Lee. Sentence (34a), we propose, gives an on-the-spot report
force are not always needed. What is accomplished by
of what it does: it explicitly displays what we think of as its pri-
(34a) can in many contexts be done simply by uttering
mary illocutionary force.
which explicitly states only the propositional content required
Thus, on the one hand, Searle characterizes what counts in gen-
eral as an act of promising. As we have just seen, this cannot be
(34) a. I promise to write you next week. viewed as something that could or should be part of the grammar,
b. I'll write you next week. for (a) to the extent that language is involved, promising presup-
In uttering (34b) a speaker can state that she will write the poses that the grammar is already in place (note the propositional
dressee in the week following the utterance and at the same content rule), and (b) form and illocutionary force are not directly
promise to do so (although she does not explicitly state that
promises). The promise is not indirect or nonliteral: it is simply On the other hand, the lexicon, a part of grammar, does reflect
overtly indicated (compare our discussion in section 2 of uses classifications of actions by the language-using community. Thus
and that convey more than logical conjunction). The sentences in we can recast (33) as describing the conditions of correct use for the
(35), though predicating future acts of their utterers, are less likely
word promise, as delineating (at least partially) which actions are
to be used to promise than (34b). promises. We will say more in chapter 8 about ways to expand our
semantic theory to incorporate analyses of the contribution made
(35) a. I'm going to write you next week. by lexical meaning to truth conditions for sentences.
b. I'm writing you next week. In the heady days following the publication of Chomsky's
c. I write you next week. Aspects, a number of linguists tried to combine Searle's view that
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 237

illocutionary force was a matter of linguistic meaning with As we noted, Ross's proposal went even further, associating with
standard logical conception of semantics as concerned with every sentence, including declaratives, a higher performative verb.
conditions for sentences. We turn now to examine this For example, he would derive (40b) from the structure underlying
approach to making the illocutionary force of a sentence a "''""r., ... (40a).
linguistic semantics.
(40) a. I say to you that grass is purple.
b. Grass is purple.

4.4 The performative hypothesis But this kind of move is semantically untenable if (40a) is to pro-
The idea behind the pmformative hypothesis is that every s vide the basis for assigning truth conditions to (40b). To utter (40a)
determines a literal illocutionary force and that explicit p is ipso facto to say something true; the same can certainly not be
ative utterances overtly indicate this literal illocutionary said for (40b). Saying that these two sentences are semantically
Ross (1970) was the first to suggest that a sentence like (34b), identical just does not work. Many, probably most, sentences do
write you next week," when uttered as a promise, might be not report the illocutionary force with which they are uttered, even
tially identical to the overt performative (34a), "I promise to at some abstract level.
you next week," at some more abstract linguistic level than
syntactic structure. Similar ideas were further developed in
by Sadock (1974) and others. 4.5 Grammar and illocutionary force
More generally, what was proposed was that in relatively The performative hypothesis and Searle's speech act theory both
structure every sentence has some performative verb as its attempt to treat the illocutionary force of an utterance as a com-
verb with a first-person subject and a second-person object. ponent of its (literal) linguistic meaning. As Levinson points out
underlying performative verb determines how someone else (1983, chap. 5), a single sentence can be used to perform a whole
accurately characterize what the utterance was meant as. host of illocutionary acts, and the same illocutionary act can be
(34b), "I'll write you next week," might look like (34a), "I performed by any number of different sentences (some of which
to write you next week," on one interpretation and like one of may perform other acts as well). And this, he correctly observes,
sentences in (38) on others. creates enormous difficulties for any theory that attempts to make
the illocutionary force of an utterance a component of its linguistic
(38) a. I claim that I will write you next week. meaning.
b. I predict that I will write you next week.
Take sentence (34b), "I'll write you next week," which can be
From saying that overt performative utterances uttered as a promise, a threat, or a report of a decision. If illocu-
truth values, it can seem only a short step to saying that tionary force were a matter of linguistic meaning, then we would
of interrogatives and imperatives are also assigned truth have to say that (34b) is ambiguous. The most likely source of such
This move assumes that we derive sentences like (15b), an ambiguity would be the auxiliary will. Yet whether the utterance
Bond give every fish to Loren?" and (15c), "Give every fish counts as a promise, a threat, or just a report of a decision seems to
Loren, Bond," from explicit performatives like those in (39). be a matter not of which sense of will a speaker has selected but of
assumptions about the addressee's attitudes toward the projected
(39) a. I ask you whether Bond gives every fish to Loren.
letter writing. The speaker may in fact make the sort of commit-
b. I tell you, Bond, to give every fish to Loren.
ment that promises and threats share without having even consid-
Lewis (1972) takes this tack. Although such an approach might be ered whether the addressee is positively, negatively, or neutrally
viable, it is important to note that it does not remove the necessity oriented toward the projected act. Even more problematic for an
of providing semantic values for the embedded interrogatives ambiguity account of illocutionary forces is the fact that a single
(introduced by the complementizer whether) and for the tenseless utterance of (34b) might both report a decision and make a prom-
infinitival complements that occur in such contexts. ise. Generally in a single utterance of an ambiguous expression,
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 239

speakers convey only one of the linguistically assigned ~~..Ju•uu (1) Reminding someone to pick up the cleaning
(exceptions are puns, which are perceived as special). Rather
(2) Offering to help someone wash the dishes
surface sentences are restricted to a single illocutionary force
uttered, and it is common for a single utterance to carry m (3) Asking someone to hurry in the shower
illocutionary forces with there being no suggestion of punning.
For each of the following sentehces, name at least two illocu-
There also seem to be many different ways to accomplish a
tionary acts their utterance could simultaneously perform. Where
illocutionary aim. The two sentences in (34) can be used to
special contextual factors must be present, specify them.
the illocutionary act reported in (37), "Joan promised to write
next week," and so also can those in (41), given suitable (4) Assignments will be collected next week.
stances surrounding their utterance. (5) I'm cold.
(41) a. Count on a letter from me next week. (6) Is Linda there?
b. I promise to comply with your request next week.
c. I'll resume my daughterly duties again next week. (7) Our dinner reservations are at seven o'clock.
d. You'll get a letter from me next week. (8) You may want to review chapter 3 before Friday's test.
We hardly want to say that these sentences are synonymous.
do we want to say that in uttering (41a), Joan would mean just
she would mean in uttering (41b), even if in both cases she
5 Conversationallmplicature
her utterance as a promise to Lee to send a letter next week.
Speakers mean more than the sentences they utter mean, as we
Linguistic meaning does constrain the illocutionary acts
have already observed at a number of points in this chapter. What
utterance of a sentence can perform. Some illocutionary acts s
is amazing is how good language users are at going beyond what is
less directly accomplished than others. The sentences in (42)
overtly said to whatever is contextually or pragmatically implied.
far less direct than the sentences in (34) and (41) if uttered as
We suggested in section 2 that we sometimes even take what is
promise reported in (37); they contrast with those more
pragmatically implied to be part of what the speaker straight-
promises in that their nonexplicit promissory value cannot
forwardly means. How is this possible? As we noted in chapter one,
overtly signalled by continuing with (36), "That's a promise."
Grice was the first to attempt an explanation of how we can so
(42) a. How would you like a letter from me next week? successfully convey more than what our words overtly say, the first
b. The orthopedist says I'll definitely be able to use the to attempt a systematic account of the principles underlying prag-
typewriter next week. matic implication. 7
The explanation of how the sentences in (42) can serve as in Subsequent research has led to major revisions in Grice's original
promises to write the addressee next week will presumably proposals, and there are currently several competing pragmatic
on some of the more general theories of pragmatic inferencing theories, for example, "relevance" theory as presented in Sperber
inspired by Grice's work on conversational implicature, which and Wilson (1986) and the neo-Gricean approaches of Horn (1989)
we discuss in the next section. Although the sentences in (41) can and Levinson (1983, forthcoming). We will not try to lay out and
directly promise, we are not entitled to conclude that their being compare these alternatives. Instead, we will just sketch Grice's
potential promises depends on some linguistic properties other original program, which has been the major reference point for
than their truth conditions and abstract locutionary force. virtually all current work in linguistic pragmatics, and then use it
to help explain some of the divergences between interpretations
assigned by F 2 and those that English speakers assign to occur-
Exercise 3 For each of the following illocutionary acts, give five
rences of expressions in actual utterances. We will then briefly
synonymous sentences that could be used to perform them. consider pragmatic approaches to such rhetorical devices as irony.
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 241

In chapter 1 we said that (an utterance of) sentence S

and that at the same time this implication has some kind of special
proposition p (or has p as an implication) just in case in uttering
status. The question of what status (43a) has if (43c) is false is not
the· speaker invites or licenses the addressee to infer that
settled, however. We will postpone further discussion of conven-
speaker is making a commitment to p. To Grice we owe not
tional implicatures until chapter 6, where we consider in some
the distinction between entailments and implications licensed
detail the phenomenon of presuppdsition. Conventional implica-
some other way but also the technical terminology now
tures, Karttunen, Peters, and others have suggested, are conven-
used in drawing the distinction. As Grice puts it, S (or its ~LL'"'G'"
tionally presupposed. Certainly, every case that Grice presented as
or utterer) may implicate a proposition, which is its
a matter of conventional implicature is also a case where what is
(plural, implicata). In such a case the relation between an
implicated is presupposed.
of S and what it implies is one of implicature; the implicata of
In the remainder of this chapter we will focus on nonconven-
utterance are also called implicatures.
tional or conversational implicature, sometimes speaking simply of
As we noted in note 5 to chapter 1, Grice divides
implicature. Part of what we mean by the conversational implicata
into two classes: conversational implicatures, which are derived
of S is that the propositions in question are not entailed by S, or
the basis of conversational principles and assumptions, and
more generally, that the implication relies on more than the lin-
ventional implicatures, which are assigned on the basis of the
guistic meaning of S. What more is involved?
ventional meanings of the words occurring in a sentence.
What Grice proposed was that conversation is regulated by an
briefly introduced conversational implicatures in chapter 1,
overarching principle of cooperation between speaker and hearer
they will be our focus in the rest of this chapter. Before
to achieve the purposes at stake in their talk:
discussing them and the theory of conversation Grice offers to
plain them, however, we will say just a few words about con (44) Make your conversational Contribution such as is required,
tional implicatures. at the stage at which it occurs, by the accepted purpose or
What Grice calls conventional implicatures are implications direction of the talk in which you are engaged.
are triggered by linguistic meaning but seem different from ( The purposes of central importance in elaborating a general the-
nary) entailments in two ways: (a) the exact content of what ory of meaning and comprehension are those at stake in success-
implied is not readily made explicit, and (b) the content of the fully and efficiently conveying information. Given these purposes,
plication does not seem at issue in the way that truth-condi rational speakers, Grice proposes, choose what to say in light of
content standardly is. Let us illustrate with an example adapted something like the following maxims:
from Grice.
(45) a. Relation. Be relevant.
(43) a. [John]i is an Englishman, but [he]i is cowardly. b. Quantity. Be only as informative as required for current
b. [John]i is an Englishman, and [he]i is cowardly. conversational purposes.
c. [John's]; being cowardly is somehow unexpected or c. Quality. Say only what you believe true and adequately
surprising in light of [his]; being English. supported.
Sentence (43a), but not (43b), implies (43c). We might say that d. Manner. Be perspicuous: be brief and orderly and avoid
uttering (43a) adds the same propositional content to the common obscurity and ambiguity.
ground as uttering (43b), but that (43a) differs from (43b) in pre- In other words, Grice is suggesting that something like these max-
supposing something along the lines of (43c). ims articulate a conversational strategy for cooperatively conveying
Grice denies that (43c) is entailed by, or part of, the truth- information. We can see that some of them might be connected
conditional content of (43a), claiming that ( 43c) might be false yet to the earlier discussed convention of truthfulness and to the need
(43a) nonetheless true. There is general agreement that something to make what one means readily accessible to one's audience. In
like (43c) is part of what (43a) implies by virtue of its meaning figuring out implicatures, hearers rely on the assumption that these
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 243

maxims are being observed or there is a good reason why some to draw the inferences that speakers take themselves to have meant
particular maxim has been "flouted." Sometimes conversational and genuine differences of opinion on what hearers should infer in
implicatures are part of what the speaker straightforwardly means; a given context.
sometimes they introduce additional levels of speaker meaning. Let Grice proposes that conversational implicatures are calculable
us now turn to concrete examples. from (1) the linguistic meaning of what is said (what the speaker
Many different kinds of implicatures have been discussed in the conventionally or normatively is taken to mean), (2) the assump-
literature; we will illustrated a few here. To say something like tion that the speaker is observing the conversational maxims, and
(46a) is in most contexts to implicate (but not entail) the proposi- (3) contextual assumptions of various kinds (for example, that one
tion expressed by (46b), whereas what (46c) expresses is entailed spouse per woman is generally the upper limit). It is not simply
by (46a). that we intuitively grasp what is implied, he says, but that "the in-
(46) a. Joan has a husband. tuition is replaceable by an argument" involving general principles
b. Joan has only one husband. of conversation (Grice 1975, 50).
c. Joan has one or more husbands. Although Grice is not completely explicit on this point, he seems
to think of these arguments as deductive. Speakers rely on hearers'
How do we know that (46a) does not entail (46b) and does being able to calculate implicatures. Why? Because the speaker
(46c)? Well, if we discover that Joan is a biandrist, (46b) is false, needs to intend the hearer to understand simply by recognizing
this discovery does not show that (46a) is false. One could sensibly that the speaker so intends, and just retrieving linguistic meaning
respond to (46a) with (47a) but not with (47b), which contradicts will not suffice. Of course, calculation may go awry because the
(46a). (The symbol # indicates that the following sentence is hearer and speaker don't assess contextual factors in the same way,
felicitous or pragmatically inappropriate in the discourse context because they give different weights to conflicting conversational
described.) principles, or because the hearer does not (perhaps cannot) make
(47) a. Yeah, in fact she has two. the effort to work things out. What is remarkable is how highly
b. #Yeah, in fact she has none. successful we seem to be in conveying to one another what we
A speaker who utters (46a) knowing that Joan is a biandrist (
That implicatures are calculable does not mean that speakers and
issues no qualifiers along with that utterance) has been dece
hearers actually calculate them; the cognitive processes at work
since the speaker must know that the hearer will infer that Joan is
need not involve deduction. Perrault (1987), Levinson (forth-
monandrist. In our culture there is a strong background
coming), and others have recently proposed nondeductive default
that people do not have more than one spouse. It would be
logics as models of language users' knowledge of (at least some)
ingenuous to claim not to have meant that Joan had only one h
implicatures; such a model is also suggested by the theory pre-
band since the hearer will commonly draw such an inference.
sented in Gazdar (1979). 8 Speakers need not supply the premises
the s~eaker is caught, the attempted defense is usually
that would allow an implicature to be worked out; hearers simply
like "I didn't say she had only one."
apply default inference rules, such as one permitting the inference
The American legal system has ruled on occasion that
from "x has a husband" to "x has exactly one husband." Such log-
(advertisers, for instance) can be held responsible not just for
ics are "nonmonotonic" in that additional premises-for example,
is explicitly said but also for implicatures that most rational he
that Joan comes from a culture in which biandry is the norm-can
would take them to have meant. Similarly, a hearer can delib
defeat the default inference. Such nondeductive systems, though
"misunderstand" what has been meant by refusing to draw an
consistent with, do not in themselves provide any account of, Gri-
vious implicature: "But you didn't say that you thought she
ce's observation that the inferences in question are motivated by
not come, only that you didn't think she would come." Of
conversational principles. Nonetheless, there probably are default
there can also be genuine misunderstandings due to hearers'
kinds of inferences that are made in the absence of counter-
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 245

evidence; certainly generalized conversational implicatures (50) a. Can you pass the salt?
both very robust and to some extent conventionalized. For b. Are you able to pass the salt?
present purposes, however, we will simply assume deduction c. Please pass the salt.
tacit premises, what are sometimes called enthymemes (
There are, however, uses of senten9es like (50b) to implicate re-
that require certain unexpressed premises). Such inferences
quests like (50c); (51) provides an example.
defeated if some of the implicit premises on which they
have to be abandoned. (51) a. Are you able to lend me $15 until Friday?
As we noted in chapter 1, a fundamental characteristic of b. Please lend me $15 until Friday.
versational implicatures is that they are cancelable or defeasible,
The fact that literal synonymy does not guarantee identical im-
well as calculable. This property follows immediately if the
plicatures in all contexts shows that factors other than literal or
lability is a matter of deducibility from contextually supplied
conventional linguistic content are relevant for calculating im-
tacit premises, some of which may have to be abandoned in
plicatures. Although the literal content of an utterance always
face of their inconsistency with other contextual premises. It
enters into calculating conversational implicatures, which may be
easy to provide illustrations of cancellation or suspension of
what Grice had in mind when formulating his nondetachability
plicatures, as in (48), for example.
principle, it is clear that the form in which that content is ex-
(48) a. Joan has a husband, perhaps even two. pressed is also often a significant factor (a fact of which Grice was
b. Nicky got a job at Harvard and moved to Cambridge but well aware, as we will see). Compare the sentences in (52), which
not in that order. generate rather different implicata though strictly expressing the
same truth-conditional content.
In contrast, we can't in the same way cancel or suspend
plications licensed simply by linguistic meaning (entailments (52) a. It is possible that Jesse Jackson will be president some day.
conventional implicatures ). b. It is not impossible that Jesse Jackson will be president
some day.
(49) a. #Joan has a husband, yet perhaps she's unmarried.
b. #Nicky got a job at Harvard and therefore moved to Belief that the speaker is indeed adhering to the general cooper-
Cambridge, but her move was quite unconnected to her ative principle will generate implicatures. So-called scalar im-
job. plicatures, first discussed in detail in Horn (1972), are said to
exploit the maxims of quantity and quality. Thus in many contexts
There is a close link between the extrasemantic calculability of
a speaker will implicate (53b) by uttering (53a).
implicature, its dependence on implicit pragmatic premises,
its defeasibility. We return to this issue in chapter 6, section 3.3. (53) a. Some students did very well on the exam.
Grice has also suggested that expressions with the same linguis" b. Some students did not do very well on the exam.
tic meaning should generate the same implicatures relative to a
The argument through which the implicature can be calculated
fixed context; he calls this the nondetachability of implicature. The
goes something like the following: The proposition that every stu-
nondetachability assumption may be problematic and is certainly
dent did well on the exam is informative in the context. If it is
difficult to examine without some independently supported ac-
thought to be true on the basis of adequate evidence, then it should
count of what linguistic meaning amounts to. It has been pointed
be stated. Since the speaker did not so state, one can infer either
out that (50a) will almost always implicate (50c), whereas (50b),
that the speaker does not believe it or has inadequate evidence.
which might seem to be synonymous (and is certainly assigned
Since the speaker is presumed to have good evidence about how all
the same literal linguistic content), does not seem to share this
the students did, the speaker does not believe that every student
did very well and, on the assumption about the speaker's access
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 247

to evidence, the speaker knows that not all students did well in which they are inconsistent with the stronger member of the
intends to convey this.
scale (this two-sided sense would make (53) an entailment), and a
In other words, the implicature in this case relies for its "one-sided" sense in which they are consistent with the stronger
lability on the maxims of quantity and quality. It would be uv_,.,..,,.., item (the one-sided sense appears in (55)). The problems with the
or weakened to something like (54) in contexts where the speaker ambiguity approach are manifold. One anomaly is that these
believed to have only partial information about performance on so-called ambiguities are paralleled in language after language; to
the best of our knowledge, no language has different morphemes
(54) It is possible, on the basis of what the speaker knows, that translating one-sided and two-sided some. Another is that distri-
some students did not do very well on the exam. bution of the putatively different senses of some is linked to exactly
the kinds of factors that play a role in the pragmatic implication
Horn has proposed a number of different linguistic scales
arguments (a fact that is unexplained on the ambiguity account).
seem much like that relating some and all or every (for "'A''"'"'
For example, we don't seem able to interpret (55a) as involving the
warm and hot, good and excellent, possible and necessary).
two-sided some, an interpretation that would make the sentence
are many questions raised by positing such scales. But there is
inconsistent. Still another is that which item in a scaled pair is
much work (especially by Horn) that supports the view
"ambiguous" is predictable on the basis of relative strengths on the
implications like that in (53) are implicatures and do not
scale: "ambiguity" is consistently imputed to the weaker member
that we abandon standard logical accounts of the truth-c
of the scale. There are others as well. Yet the ambiguity approach
contribution of words like some and all. (The further link in
continues to be attractive to many, presumably because the two-
reasoning from (53a) to (53b) is the entailment from the
sided understanding involved in interpreting (53a) as implying
that not all did well to the proposition that some did not do
(53b) is apparently assigned so directly and does not involve mul-
Fragment F 2 , which lacks plurals, has scaled determiners a
tiple levels of speaker meaning. We certainly do not consciously go
every, which for these purposes might be expected to work
through a calculation like that given for (53) even if the possibility of
some and all.
such an argument is what ultimately supports the inference in (53).
Scalar implications like that in (53) are ubiquitous, and
One kind of data sometimes offered in support of the ambiguity
often seem completely direct in the sense of being part of what
analysis involves what Horn ( 1985) calls "metalinguistic" or
speakers mean where there is only one level of speaker meaning. At
"pragmatic" negation. We do find people uttering sentences like
the same time such implications are in general defeasible:
those in (56), where italics indicate intonational prominence.
elements on a scale are consistent with weaker ones. In (55) the
scaled expressions are italicized, with the weaker occurring first. (56) a. That novel isn't good; it's absolutely superb.
b. She didn't get some of the questions right; she answered
(55) a. Some of the students did very well on the exam, perhaps
every single one correctly.
b. The novel will certainly be good, and it may well be What Horn argues is that the negative here does not serve to negate
excellent. propositional content; that is, we do not interpret these sentences
c. It is possible, perhaps even necessary, to treat these as denying the truth of the two-sided reading of the weak scalar
inferences as implicatures. item. Rather, he suggests, the emphasized weak-scalar item is being
mentioned here and not used.
Data such as these are prima facie evidence against the view that
To use an expression is to be responsible for an illocutionary act
the implications like that in (53) are entailments.
in which the locution figures directly. To mention an expression is
Nonetheless, as Horn (1989) explains in some detail, there is a
to disavow illocutionary agency in performing the locutionary act.
venerable tradition that tries to treat the weaker scaled items-
We did not put it quite this way in section 2, not then having
some, good, possible-as ambiguous between a "two-sided" sense,
available the distinction between locutionary acts and illocutionary
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 249

acts. One reason to mention an expression can be to comment (59) If a sentence does not entail either the proposition expressed
the possible illocutionary act of someone who might utter it. This by the subordinate clause or its negation, then uttering the
what seems to be happening in (56); the speaker is ~~''"u'",.. sentence implicates the (epistemic) possibility of both those
herself from one who would (simply) say that the novel is good propositions.
that some of the questions were answered correctly, in order
But (59) does not always work. Sentences (60a) and (BOb) are alike
emphasize that what such a way of speaking implicates is
in entailing neither the subordinate clause (60c) nor its negation
What is negated seems to echo some other utterance and to cri
the speaker who chose the locution in question. What negatives
in the sentences in (56) seems very similar to what they do in (60) a. I guess Joan is smart.
sentences in (57); in (57) the negatives criticize prvuu.u'uldLHJ b. I am certain that Joan is smart.
choice of register, or other unwanted implications, and the c. Joan is smart.
cized locution is followed by the one endorsed. d. Joan is not smart.
(57) a. I don't like tojmahjtoes but tojmeyjtoes. Thus Gazdar's principle (59) predicts that both (60a) and (BOb)
b. You didn't go pee-pee: you urinated. should implicate (61).
c. No, I didn't have lunch with the girls: we women ate
(61) For all I know, Joan is smart, and for all I know, Joan is not
What seems to clinch the case for treating some uses of
Now (60b) certainly does not implicate (61); indeed, it tends to
as involving something very different from negation of ~~~~.~-'
implicate (62).
tional content is that the material with which the negative is
dated need not be linguistic at all. This point is beautifully (62) I know that Joan is smart.
in person by Larry Horn performing on his kazoo, the It might seem somewhat more plausible that (60a) implicates (61).
indicating the points at which he demonstrates two musical But even this somewhat more plausible prediction is dubious.
formances, the first to be avoided and the second to be imitated. Sentences like (60a) are typically used as hedged assertions of their
(58) It's not [ complement clauses, thus implicating those complements; in many
contexts, uttering (60a) would implicate (60c).
It seems clear in (57) that in uttering the initial apparently
Nonetheless, Gazdar is quite right in observing that certain com-
tive clause, the speaker means only that some other speaker has
plex sentential forms imply (though they do not entail) proposi-
failed to choose the most appropriate or effective locution to do the
tions about the speaker's epistemic position with respect to the
job; she then demonstrates what a better locution might be. A sim-
propositions expressed by constituent clauses. So for example,
ilar account of the import of the negatives in (56) seems q
(63a) and (63b) each implies all the remaining sentences in (63),
plausible, in which case such utterances provide no evidence at
though these implications are defeasible.
in favor of scalar ambiguities.
What are sometimes called clausal implicatures have also been (63) a. Either [Joan]i bought steak, or [she]i bought swordfish.
much discussed. Uttering a sentence that contains an embedded b. If [Joan]i did not buy steak, [she]i bought swordfish.
clausal complement may generate an implicature about the epis- c. For all the speaker knows, Joan did not buy steak.
temic status of that clause: for example, that the speaker is taking d. For all the speaker knows, Joan did buy steak.
the proposition expressed by the subordinate clause as still an open e. For all the speaker knows, Joan did not buy swordfish.
question. Gazdar (1979) is the first extensive discussion of clausal f For all the speaker knows, Joan did buy swordfish.
implicatures as a class, and he proposes that they are governed by We do not need principle (59), however, but can calculate these
implicatures by appeal to the assumption that the speaker is coop-
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 251

erative in the purposes of the exchange and has adhered to What is interesting is that neither ... nor is only interpretable as
of quality and quantity. Let's see how the argument works. negating an inclusive either ... or. Note that the conjunction of
In chapter 2 we semantically analyzed or as inclusive (as sentence (66a) with (66b) is blatantly contradictory.
ing only that at least one disjunct be true). Now we can say (66) a. Joan bought neither steak nor swordfish.
about how the exclusive interpretation arises. A sentence b. Joan bought both steak and swordfish.
(63a), which is entailed on our account by (64a), is often taken
implicate (64b). As we have observed in earlier chapters, ambiguities in a sen-
tence are matched by ambiguities in the negation of that sentence.
(64) a. Joan bought both steak and swordfish. In general, neither ... nor constructions express the negations of
b. Joan didn't buy both steak and swordfish. their either ... or counterparts. Thus if either ... or is ambiguous,
The implicature is easily calculated from the observation that (63 we should expect a parallel ambiguity in neither ... nor. If ( 66a)
is entailed by, but does not entail, (64a). Thus (63a) is weaker. As were interpreted as the negation of the exclusive sense posited for
generally the case with such relations of relative strength, u~.<UCoU>] either ... or, then on that interpretation (66a) would be true in the
who states only that (63a) is true suggests she is not in a position situation in which both (and not simply one) of its disjuncts is true.
claim ( 64a) and thus (in many circumstances) implies that ( The fact that there is no available interpretation for (66a) compati-
the negation of (64a), is true. In this way we can use the maxim ble with (66b) strongly argues against the existence of an exclusive
quantity to arrive at the pertinent implication; we do not need sense of or. Indeed, even (67) is incompatible with (66b), unless
posit a special exclusive sense of or. The exclusive in (67) is interpreted as metalinguistic negation (with tell-tale stress
can be explained pragmatically rather than semantically. and discourse restrictions).
Nonetheless, as with other scalar items, many have taken (67) It is not the case that Joan bought either steak or swordfish.
ambiguity path. As evidence it is alleged that Latin autem
expressed a disjunction true only in case exactly one of the There are further considerations that can be offered against the
juncts it joins is true, but the facts are not so simple. (Horn ambiguity analysis, but these will serve for now. As Grice observes,
includes some discussion of this question.) It seems that the principle of Occam's razor-do not multiply entities beyond
may simply have been used in contexts where exclusiveness of necessity-is generally relevant. Why multiply senses if one suf-
disjunction was presupposed. fices? In this case it seems clear that one sense not only can but
Some negative sentences seem at first glance to offer must suffice.
in support of the claim that the truth of exactly one disjunct Both scalar and clausal implications are instances of what Grice
entailed. calls generalized conversational implicatures (GCis). GCis hold in a
wide range of conversational contexts: a hearer could calculate
(65) Joan didn't buy either steak or swordfish: she came home them with access only to some very basic beliefs about communi-
with both. cation and perhaps some other widely available assumptions about
Both stress and discourse constraints on the use of such ""'"u'"'"'-'" social norms and the subject matter being discussed. They are also
however, strongly argue for their being cases of Juoc:oaJHJ typically direct in the sense we discussed in section 2; that is, the
rather than propositional negation. In other words, the negative speaker does not mean to draw attention to the contrast between
(65) attacks the use of the word either as an ill-advised what is literally said and what is conversationally implicated. A
rather than negating the proposition expressed by (63a). Wi GCI is like a second sense in being immediately available. It is not
focal stress as indicated or a preceding assertion of (63a), surprising then that GCis are so often thought to be entailments,
seems interpretable only as a contradiction. Thus sentence their defeasibility then being attributed to some putative ambiguity
does not show the existence of a sense of or relative to which ( rather than to the failure of a conversational premise.
entails (61b); once again, apparent evidence of ambiguity In contrast, particularized conversational implicatures (PC Is)
rates once we see that not can indicate metalinguistic negation. depend crucially on contextual features specific to a given utter-
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 253

ance and not just on a standard background. Sperber and (69) a. Lee has a nice smile and draws beautiful phrase-structure
(1986) discuss many examples of such contextually specific trees.
plications. For example, someone uttering (68b) in response b. Lee is no good as a linguist.
(68a) would implicate (68c) and (68d).
The letter writer has obviously failed to give a full enough picture
(68) a. Have you read E. 0. Wilson's Sociobiology? of Lee's qualifications for the post. How then do we actually infer
b. I don't read science fiction. (69b) rather than assuming that the letter writer has said no more
c. I have not read Sociobiology. because this is all she knows (or believes with adequate evidence)
d. I view Sociobiology as (like) science fiction (and thus as about Lee? Presumably, we have to appeal to principles beyond the
bad science). maxims themselves in order to generate this inference, because if
One might think initially that particularized implicatures the letter writer does indeed believe with evidence something
limited to face-to-face communication, since it is only there along the lines of (69b), quantity would seem to require that this be
producer and interpreter are in (essentially) the same context. said. But it was not said. So quantity is blatantly flouted. And in
there can be particularized implicatures that draw on the this extreme case what is communicated about smiling and drawing
ular background generated by preceding text. That is, trees is irrelevant to the communicative task at hand. But we need
text produces a partial but nonetheless particular context. A additional assumptions to conclude that the writer is implicating
tence in the middle of a book might be interpreted quite (69b) in writing (69a). We may assume that people typically refrain
ently from the same sentence placed near the beginning. from saying overtly negative things in job recommendations, even
sometimes an author assumes familiarity on the part of the where such negative evaluations are highly relevant, whereas they
ing audience with other texts she has produced. The contrast do not refrain from saying positive things that are relevant. Along
tween generalized and particularized implicatures may not with this assumption there must also be the overarching assump-
be sharply defined. Indeed, most implicatures (even quite tion that the letter writer is attempting to cooperate in spite of
ized ones) probably rely on premises that some community appearances to the contrary.
bers cannot supply (the relatively young, newcomers, and Such indirect communication can be risky. One hears arguments
unusually ill-informed people). Not surprisingly, however, about what a recommender intended to implicate.
attention has been paid to systematizing the account of clear (70) A: She said nothing about his teaching, so she must be
of GCis, although Sperber and Wilson's work does not implying that it is terrible.
real distinction (and offers analyses of many implicatures that B: Oh no, I think she assumes that his teaching is fine unless
and those who have followed him more closely would treat otherwise stated.
In the arguments supporting calculability that we gave As we noted earlier, there can be reasons for choosing such in-
there was tension between maxims but they were not aban direct ways of conveying what one means. One way of being polite
Sometimes, though, maxims are apparently flouted, and yet, is to "pretend" that one means one thing-what one directly
suggests, we still assume that the cooperative principle is in says-while actually conveying something rather different: con-
and we try to infer what the speaker intends to convey on sider (71a) as a way of conveying (71b), purporting to offer the
basis. In such cases we are reading between the lines: addressee a choice of seats while at the genuinely operative level
inferences on the basis of beliefs of the sort embodied in the issuing a directive as to where to sit.
ims about strategies and speaker's purposes. (71) a. Would you like to sit here?
For example, a letter of recommendation for someone b. Sit here, please.
for a faculty position in a linguistics department that consists
Alert children frequently refuse to play this game: their answer to
of (69a) would implicate (69b).
(72a) is (72b).
Speaking, Meaning, and Doing 255

(72) a. Would you like to set the table? or unsophisticated by mockingly imitating them. (There need not
b. No, but I will. actually have been a previous utterance of the type so caricatured.)
After all, to act as if setting the table is what one wants to Thus two lovers might be happily walking in pouring rain, and one
to lose moral credit for having agreed to do it (and to let might say the following in a tone of mock surprise to the other:
requester avoid the debt for having asked to have it done). (73) Why, it seems to be raining. ·
and Levinson (1978) discuss "linguistic universals of poli
What might be meant? Here are some possibilities: that these two
drawing on a general Gricean pragmatic theory.
are above ordinary mortals, who notice such mundane details as
whether it is raining, that they are so elevated because of the gran-
deur of their passion, that they cannot concern themselves with the
Exercise 4 In each of the pairs below sentence (a) conversationally
possible disapproval of more conventional and prosaic souls, and
sentence (b). For each pair, provide a reason for thinking that
so on. The particular inferences to be drawn about the speaker's
implication is not an entailment, and calculate the implic
attitudes cannot be identified simply on the basis of what one
best you can, indicating where contextually specific premises
knows about the language system and about the appropriateness of
to be supplied.
the utterance in the given context. These are cases where what is
(1) a. Joan swung at the ball. conveyed is relatively open-ended: the main aim seems to be sim-
b. Joan missed the ball. ply to evoke a general atmosphere or a family of attitudes.
(2) a. I don't think your solution works. A thorough exploration of indirect and nonliteral uses of lan-
b. I think your solution doesn't work. guage lies outside the scope of this book. We are inclined to be
optimistic, however, that explicit accounts of what expressions lit-
(3) a. Mary brought a man from New York as her guest. erally mean and of the systematic processes of directly implicating
b. The man was not Mary's husband. will help us understand these more complex uses of language. In-
(4) a. I wonder what time it is. directness and figurativeness are in some ways parasitic on canoni-
b. The speaker wants to be told what time it is by the cal situations, where language use is direct and conventional
addressee. (though perhaps less than fully explicit) and where the aims of
communication are the cooperative exchange of information.
(5) a. Jim's research is respected.
Although the details are still far from clear, there continues to be
b. Many people respect Jim's research. considerable interest in the general Gricean idea that to attribute to
(6) a. Jill and Greg went to the movies. others communicative intentions is to have certain expectations
b. Jill and Greg went to the movies together. that can be exploited to enhance communicative ability. This idea
has been especially important in trying to show how the logician's
analysis of the semantic value of certain words and constructions
Many rhetorical strategies and figures of speech depend on can be maintained in the face of evidence that speakers often mean
we called in section 2 multiple levels of speaker meaning. Sp more than the logical analysis itself would seem to warrant. It is
and Wilson (1986) discuss a number of cases. Their analysis also crucial in extending analyses beyond canonical communica-
verbal irony, for example, makes it echoic in much the same tive situations of cooperatively sharing information. Some such
as Larry Horn's pragmatic negation. The point of ironic uH"""T'""'., theory is an essential complement to the kind of truth-conditional
they suggest, is to caricature an echoed utterance by semantic analyses we propose as an analysis of the meaning of
essentially the same locutionary act in a manner designed to disambiguated and contextually specified English sentences.
gest that what such a locution explicitly expresses is inappro
and thus to present those who might utter it as stupid, insensiti

1 Introduction
In this chapter we will explore ways in which intensional
phenomena can be approached from the point of view of truth-
conditional semantics. We will begin by discussing contexts that
appear to resist an analysis in purely extensional terms.

1.1 Intensional contexts

To specify the truth conditions for the sentences in F 2 , we had to
consider only the referential value of their components in a given
situation. Thus, for example, the truth conditions of (la) are speci-
fied in (lb):
(1) a. Pavarotti is boring.
b. (la) is true in viffPavarotti is in the set ofthings that are
boring in v.
To determine the value of (la) in v, we just have to check whether
Pavarotti is in the set that constitutes the extension in v of the
predicate is boring. Individuals and sets, whatever mysteries may
surround theJp., are paradigmatic extensional notions.
We know, however, plenty of constructions that are more com-
plex. Consider, for example, the sentences in (2).
(2) a. Pavarotti is hungry.
b. Pavarotti was hungry.
To know whether (2b) is true in a situation v, it is not sufficient to
know the extension of is hungry in v. The latter knowledge suffices
only to assess the truth value of (2a). To evaluate (2b) in v, we must
know the extension of is hungry in circumstances that occurred
prior to v. Thus if we want to say something about the semantics of
tense, we need more than the extension of expressions in a given
Consider (3) next:
(3) It is possible for John to travel to Russia.
Intensionality 259

To evaluate (3) in a situation v, knowing the extension in v of those of proposition and property, which we discussed informally
travel to Russia will not suffice. Nor will it suffice to know what in chapter 2 in connection with Frege's notion of sense. Now some-
happened before v and what will happen after v. It might be thing that the sentences in (Zb) to (5) all seem to have in common is
John has never traveled to Russia and never will. Yet traveling that they call for a consideration of the extension that expressions
Russia is quite possible for him, while for others perhaps it have in circumstances other than ;the one in which we are evaluat-
Thus the notion of possibility also calls for more than extens ing them. In the case of (Zb) this claim hardly requires further
and it does so in a way that appears to be different from tense, comment. It should also be clear with respect to (3). To claim that
knowing what has been the case or what will be the case does for John to travel is possible we must consider what options John
suffice to assess the truth value of (3). might have. Such options must include some in which John's trav-
Another example is provided by counterfactual condiuv.ua1 ::;. eling takes place. Envisioning a possibility is simply considering an
such as the ones in (4). alternative way in which the world might have been, that is, a
(4) a. If Proust had taken a cruise on the Titanic, the Titanic nonactual circumstance. A similar point can be made in connection
not have sunk. with (4). Conditionals in general invite us to imagine that certain
b. If Proust had taken a cruise on the Titanic, Remembrance hypotheses hold (whether they in fact do or not) and to consider
Things Past would not have been completed, and literature their consequences.
would have suffered a great loss. And something in very much the same vein can also be said
about (5). Consider the ways in which the world could be, the
We are inclined to judge (4a) as false and (4b)
alternative states of affairs that might obtain. We can regard them as
know that in fact Proust never was on the Titanic. Yet the sentences forming a logical space: the space that delimits all the possible
in (4) invite us to consider a situation where he was and make alternatives to the state of affairs in which we in fact are. Belief
a claim as to what follows from that. Clearly, the truth values can be thought of as a way of locating oneself in this logical space.
(4a) and (4b) do not depend on the truth values of the antecedents Accordingly, (5) says that John believes himself to inhabit a region
(or of the consequents), for in both cases the antecedents ( of the logical space where Mary is hungry. He is disposed to act as
the consequents) are both actually false (Proust never cruised on if the actual world were in that region. For example, he may offer
the Titanic, Remembrance of Things Past was completed, and the her something to eat or start cooking a meal for her, etc. His
Titanic sank).
expectations, desires, and so on depend on what it would be like if
Another striking case is provided l;>y sentences like Mary were hungry.
(5) John believes that Mary is hungry. In fact, all predicates that can take that clauses as complements
are amenable to an analysis similar to that just sketched for believe.
Clearly whether (5) is true or not does not depend in any way on
To fear, to hope, and to wish that Mary is hungry can all be thought
the truth value of the embedded clause. John might believe that
of as attitudes in favor of or against those (possibly nonactual) cir-
Mary is hungry, whether she is in fact or not. But we as yet have no
cumstances where Mary is hungry. In chapter 3 we said that dif-
way to assign a more plausible semantic value to the embedded
ferent models might reflect different circumstances or states of
clause in (5). We have argued that the meaning of sentences is
affairs, but the semantic machinery presented there did not allow
related to their truth conditions. On this basis we would expect
us to consider more than one such state of affairs in interpreting a
that John's belief has something to do with the truth conditions of
sentence. Yet a semantic analysis of (2b) to (5) and related con-
the embedded clause, that it is somehow related to the conditions
structions seems to call for consideration in a given circumstance
under which "Mary is hungry" is true. But we are so far unable to
of alternative sets of circumstances, states of affairs, or more pic-
use this idea in providing a compositional semantics for sentences
turesquely, possible worlds.
like (5).
Roughly speaking, a possible but nonactual state of affairs is what
All these constructions are said to be intensional; their analysis
would be the case if some (many, most, or even all) events had dif-
will require sharpening our view of such intensional notions as
ferent outcomes from those that they in fact have. For example, one
Intensionality 261

can imagine a possible state of affairs exactly like the one we are plausible to suppose that their existence is in some sense depen-
except that this text is printed in red rather than in black. dent on, and that their natures must be explained in terms of, those
Lewis (1973, 84) offers a vivid characterization of possible activities" (p. 50). Kripke makes a similar comment: "'Possible
in the following often quoted paragraph: worlds' are stipulated, not discovered by powerful telescopes"
It is uncontroversially true that things might have been ntt'"'""': .. ~ (1972, 267).
than they are. I believe, and so do you, that things could have The human activities on which the existence of possible worlds
different in countless ways. But what does this mean? depends (through which they are stipulated) include using lan-
language permits the paraphrase: there are many ways guage and interpreting expressions. Semantics, as we understand
could have been besides the way they actually are. On the face it, seeks to develop a model (or part of a model) of such activities.
this sentence is an existential quantification. It says that there In fact, using the formal apparatus of possible worlds in semantics
many entities of a certain description, to wit, "ways things has produced some very interesting and nontrivial accounts of
have been." I believe permissible paraphrases of what I various intensional phenomena, and many quite enlightening se-
taking the paraphrase at its face value, I therefore believe in mantic studies have been generated. It certainly seems to us a
existence of entities which might be called "ways things could fruitful hypothesis that our semantic competence can be elucidated
been." I prefer to call them "possible worlds." in this framework. We now turn to introducing the main ideas
underlying possible world semantics.
The formal apparatus of possible worlds, a
applications to semantic questions we discuss later in this <..uouL~:~rc
was introduced in Kripke (1959) as a tool for investigating the 1.2 Possible worlds
A sentence S is semantically associated with a way of dividing cir-
cumstances (or, as we can now say, possible worlds) into two
ture over what assumptions that apparatus requires. In groups: those adequately characterized by S (those in which S is
Lewis's point we do not deny that possible worlds might raise true) and those that are not. This much was implicit in our discus-
metaphysical issues, but we think that the formal apparatus can sion in chapter 2 of the meaning of a sentence as (at least partly)
adopted without resolving these issues, just as we can su'-''-''"'""'uu constituted by its truth conditions (not, you will remember, by its
use the notion of an individual in set theory and logic truth value as such). To understand the content of a sentence "is to
resolving all the thorny problems it raises, for example, the mys- have the capacity to divide the relevant alternatives in the right
teries of criteria for identifying individuals. Such skeptics about way" (Stalnaker 1984, 4). This way of putting it suggests that we
possible worlds as Quine or, more recently, Barwise and Perry have. might identify the content of a sentence, the proposition it
not abandoned set-theoretic methods just because they lack expresses, with the set of circumstances or possible worlds in
quate criteria for identifying individuals (and thus ultimately sets). which it is true, at least as a first approximation. Equivalently, we
Nor should they. can think of a proposition as a function that associates with each
Our position is the following. We find possible worlds an ex- relevant world or circumstance a truth value: true with the worlds
tremely useful tool in understanding meaning. Evaluating in which it is true, false with the others. This is illustrated in figure
notion is a matter of evaluating the role it plays in the various 5.1. The box in figure 5.1 includes all the worlds that we are capa-
enterprises of which it is part, and we should not be misled by the ble of discriminating from one another (with the conceptual
science fiction flavor of the terminology. This is, we think, in the resources available to us). The circle within the box includes all the
same spirit as Stalnaker (1984). Stalnaker argues very strongly that worlds associated with some proposition p. Figure 5.1 illustrates
possible worlds should be regarded as "not concrete objects or how one can also view p as a function from worlds to truth values
situations, but abstract objects whose existence is inferred or rather than as a set. It is easy to see that these two ways of char-
abstracted from the activities of rational agents. It is thus not im- acterizing p are equivalent: given the two sets of worlds, we can
Intensionality 263

On this view, propositions do not appear to be very sentencelike.

. w5 For example, they don't have a subject-predicate structure or con-
stituents of any kind. As Stalnaker puts it (1984, 23), internal
• w6
p structure is taken to be part not of the content of sentences but of
the way in which such content is represented. This seems to go
• w4
against the intuitive picture of propositions that many have.
According to Frege, for example, propositions (the senses of sen-
tences) are the thoughts that sentences express. And it is tempting
to take those thoughts as something like sentences in an internal-
ized language, what Lewis (1970) dubs "mentalese." Indeed, there
are certain sentencelike attributes that we definitely want proposi-
tions to have. For example, we want to be able to say that a propo-
sition entails another proposition, for the content of a sentence may
certainly commit us to the content of another sentence, indepen-
dently of how such contents may be described. We may also want to
conjoin propositions, for the content of two sentences can be con-