Bare coordination: the semantic shift

Article English OPEN
de Swart, Henriette ; Le Bruyn, Bert (2014)
  • Publisher: Springer Nature
  • Journal: Natural Language & Linguistic Theory
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1007/s11049-014-9237-9
  • Subject: Linguistics and Language

This paper develops an analysis of the syntax-semantics interface of two types of split coordination structures. In the first type, two bare singular count nouns appear as arguments in a coordinated structure, as in bride and groom were happy. We call this the N&N construction. In the second type, the determiner shows agreement with the first conjunct, while the second conjunct is bare, as in the Spanish example el hornero y hornera cobraban en panes (‘thesg.m bakersg.m and bakersg.f werepl paid in bread loaves’). We call this the DN&N construction. Both N&N and DN&N constructions are common in languages that otherwise require an article or determiner on singular count nouns in regular argument position, and give rise to ‘split’ readings that cannot be accounted for by the standard semantics of conjunction in terms of set intersection. Furthermore, they are restricted to instances of ‘natural’ coordination. We formalize the semantics of split conjunction in terms of intersection between sets of matching pairs, which correlates with the lexical semantics and pragmatics of natural coordination. We maintain that an N&N construction gets either a definite or an indefinite interpretation by covert type-shifting, because projection of an article ranging over the coordination as a whole is blocked in languages like English and Spanish. For DN&N structures, we propose a syntactic structure in which D is in construction with the first conjunct. Coordination with a second, bare conjunct requires a covert type-shift that is licensed only under the special matchmaking semantics of conjunction. The analysis addresses a range of issues these coordinate structures raise about syntactic and semantic agreement, in particular with respect to number. Next to English and Spanish we will look into Dutch and French in detail.
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