Institut Jean Nicod

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Ariel Cohen (Ben-Gurion University)

Vendredi 31 mars de 11h30 à 13h

Institut Nicod, ENS, Pavillon Jardin, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005 Paris. Salle de réunion, RDC.

Ariel Cohen
Senior Lecturer of Linguistics, Department of Foreign Literatures and Linguistics, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

"Unarticulated Constituents: the View from Linguistics"

Abstract :

One of the hotly debated questions in philosophy of language is that of unarticulated constituents. The normal interpretation of (1a) is that Mary is running now; the normal interpretation of (1b) is that David as at his home, and the normal interpretation of (1c) is that it’s raining here:

(1). a. Mary is running

       b. David is at home

       c. It’s raining

But are times, persons, and locations arguments in the logical forms of the sentence in (1), like, say, the agent?

  In a series of publications, François Recanati answers the question in the negative. He argues for his position partly on the basis of the notion of temporal and modal innocence: the possibility of agents who are not aware of times other than the present or worlds other than the actual, and cannot think or talk about them.

  In this talk I provide evidence from linguistics to bear on the issue.

 First, I show that all four types of unarticulated constituents exemplified here—time, world, person, and location—are represented in the same syntactic position across typologically unrelated languages, and behave syntactically and semantically the same. Specifically, they are encoded in a position that is above the VP, which makes them non-arguments.

  Second, I show that, cross-linguistically, when time or modality are not specified, they default to the present and to the actual world, as predicted, respectively, by temporal and modal innocence.

  Third, I investigate the interpretation of the linguistic correlates of the other two unarticulated constituents—person and location—and argue that it allows us to extend the notion of innocence beyond time and modality.