Descriptions and their domains [Elektronische Ressource] : the patterns of definiteness marking in French-related creoles / vorgelegt von Johannes Wespel

Descriptions and their domains [Elektronische Ressource] : the patterns of definiteness marking in French-related creoles / vorgelegt von Johannes Wespel

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1 Johannes Wespel Descriptions and their domains The patterns of definiteness marking in French-related creole SinSpeCWorking Papers of the SFB 732“Incremental Specification in Context”SinSpeC 02 (2008) ISSN 1867-3082 Descriptions and their Domains The Patterns of Definiteness Marking in French-related Creoles Von der philosophisch-historischen Fakultät der Universität Stuttgart zur Erlangung der Würde eines Doktors der Philosophie (Dr. phil.) genehmigte Abhandlung vorgelegt von Johannes Wespel aus Mutlangen Hauptberichter: Prof. Dr. Klaus von Heusinger Mitberichterin: Prof. Dr. Brenda Laca Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 26.06.2008 Institut für Linguistik / Germanistik der Universität Stuttgart 2008 SinSpeC issues do not appear on a strict schedule. © Copyrights of articles remain with the authors. Volume 02 (2008) Author: Johannes Wespel Universität Stuttgart Institut für Linguistik/Germanistik Heilbronner Strasse 7 D-70174 Stuttgart Johannes.Wespel@ling.uni-stuttgart.

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Johannes Wespel

Descriptions and their domains
The patterns of definiteness marking in French-related creole
SinSpeC
Working Papers of the SFB 732
“Incremental Specification in Context”
SinSpeC 02 (2008) ISSN 1867-3082

Descriptions and their Domains
The Patterns of Definiteness Marking in French-related
Creoles
Von der philosophisch-historischen Fakultät der Universität Stuttgart
zur Erlangung der Würde eines Doktors
der Philosophie (Dr. phil.) genehmigte Abhandlung
vorgelegt von
Johannes Wespel
aus Mutlangen
Hauptberichter: Prof. Dr. Klaus von Heusinger
Mitberichterin: Prof. Dr. Brenda Laca
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 26.06.2008
Institut für Linguistik / Germanistik der Universität Stuttgart
2008
SinSpeC issues do not appear on a strict schedule.
© Copyrights of articles remain with the authors.
Volume 02 (2008)
Author: Johannes Wespel
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Linguistik/Germanistik
Heilbronner Strasse 7
D-70174 Stuttgart
Johannes.Wespel@ling.uni-stuttgart.de
in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Dr.
phil.), University of Stuttgart
Series Editors: Artemis Alexiadou
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für Linguistik/Anglistik
Heilbronner Strasse 7
D-70174 Stuttgart
Hinrich Schütze
Universität Stuttgart
Institut für maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung
Azenbergstrasse 12
D-70174 Stuttgart
Published by Online Publikationsverbund der Universität Stuttgart (OPUS)
Published 2008
ISSN 1867-3082 About SinSpeC
SinSpeC are the Working Papers of the Sonderforschungsbereich (SFB) 732
“Incremental Specification in Context”. The SFB 732 is a collaboratory research center
at the University of Stuttgart and has been funded by the German Research Foundation
(DFG) since July 1, 2006.
The SFB 732 brings together scientists from the areas of linguistics, computational
linguistics and signal processing at the University of Stuttgart. Their common scientific
goals are to achieve a better understanding of the mechanisms that lead to ambiguity
control/disambiguation as well as the enrichment of missing/incomplete information
and to develop methods that are able to fully describe these mechanisms.
For further information about the SFB please visit:

http://www.uni-stuttgart.de/linguistik/sfb732/
SinSpeC aims at publishing ongoing work within the SFB in a fast and uncomplicated
way in order to make the results of our work here known to the scientific community
and strengthen our international relationships. It publishes papers by the staff of the
SFB as well as papers by visiting scholars or invited scholars.
SinSpeC is available online on the above website.
A ‘Print on Demand’ version can be ordered at the same address.
Contact Information:
Director of the SFB 732: Coordinator of the SFB 732:
Prof. Dr. Artemis Alexiadou Dr. Sabine Mohr
artemis@ifla.uni-stuttgart.de sabine@ifla.uni-stuttgart.de

SFB 732
Universität Stuttgart
Heilbronner Strasse 7
D-70174 Stuttgart

Phone: 0711/685-83115
Fax: 0711/685-83120 Preface
The present study was originally submitted as a dissertation to the linguistics faculty of
the University of Stuttgart. It develops a theory of definiteness based on the notion of
unambiguity of reference. This theory is tested against a contrastive data set mainly
consisting of English, Haitian Creole, and Mauritian Creole. It is shown that the cross-
linguistic variation we find in the concrete expression of definiteness is connected to
questions having to do with the ways in which unambiguity of reference is constructed.
Two major strategies of achieving unambiguous reference are distinguished: functional
assignment of individuals to other individuals (Skolem functions) on the one hand, and
extraction of a single member out of a set via maximization on the other hand. Both of
these strategies can again be sub-classified according to the specific manner in which
the context (in a broad sense) contributes to the production of unambiguity. From a
semantic point of view, definiteness is a unitary concept with clear-cut internal
partitions.
The languages in the sample under consideration all display a binary split between two
means of expressing unambiguous reference. With regard to the notion of
underspecification, the common thread of the SinSpec series, this means that no
language has a grammar that completely specifies the ways in which unambiguous
reference is achieved. Instead, there are always certain varieties of unambiguity that are
morphologically bundled together. The result of this bundling (i.e. which semantic
varieties fall on each side of the morphological split) looks different from language to
language. For instance, Mauritian Creole carves out deictic-anaphoric reference from
“the rest”, whereas English separates reference to kinds from “the rest”. The exact locus
of the split is motivated, though not predictable, along the lines of the unambiguity
hypothesis proposed here. Consequently, both theory and description have their share in
this study. vii
Contents
Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................................... ix
Abbreviations.............................................................................................................................................. x
Deutsche Zusammenfassung..................................................................................................................... xi
1. Introduction....................................................................................................................................... 1
2. Semantics of definite descriptions ................................................................................................... 9
2.1 Theories of definiteness............................................................................................................. 9
2.1.1 The familiarity theory of definiteness................................................................................. 10
2.1.2 The uniqueness theory of definites ..................................................................................... 16
2.1.3 The salience theory of definiteness..................................................................................... 21
2.2 A functional theory of definite descriptions ............................................................................ 23
2.2.1 Definite descriptions as terms gained from property-denoting expressions ...................... 23
2.2.2 Definite descriptions as terms gained from individual-denoting expressions.................... 25
3. Situation semantics and noun phrase interpretation ................................................................... 43
3.1 Worlds and situations .............................................................................................................. 43
3.2 Situation parameters in the noun phrase.................................................................................. 46
3.3 Topic situations and resource situations.................................................................................. 49
3.3.1 Topic situations as truth-makers......................................................................................... 49
3.3.2 Resource situations as referential aids................................................................................ 51
3.4 Situational referentialism and situation variable binding ........................................................ 54
3.5 Definite descriptions in situation semantics ............................................................................ 57
3.5.1 Sortal descriptions .............................................................................................................. 57
3.5.2 Functional descriptions....................................................................................................... 63
3.5.3 The origin of the unambiguity implication ......................................................................... 67
3.5.4 Functional descriptions with implicit arguments................................................................ 72
3.5.5 Unifying the notion of incompleteness............................................................................... 78
3.6 Summary and outlook: Towards a semantic typology of definite descriptions....................... 83
4. Definiteness marking in Haitian Creole........................................................................................ 87
4.1 Methodological remarks.......................................................................................................... 87
4.2 Haitian Creole, a French-related Creole.................................................................................. 89
4.3 The noun phrase of Haitian Creole.......................................................................................... 91
4.4 Data: Two sorts of definite descriptions.................................................................................. 96
4.5 Determiner choice and resource situations in Haitian Creole.................................................. 99
4.5.1 Mutual knowledge-based descriptions.............................................................................. 100
4.5.2 Complete functional and relational descriptions............................................................... 112
4.5.3 Functional descriptions with implicit arguments.............................................................. 114
4.5.4 Relational descriptions ..................................................................................................... 116
4.5.5 Unambiguity through adjectival modifiers ....................................................................... 118
4.5.6 Summary and discussion of the findings .......................................................................... 123
4.6 Beyond the noun phrase: Situations and verbal predicates.................................................... 125
4.7 Relative clause formation and the determiner ....................................................................... 131viii
5. The definite determiner in Mauritian Creole............................................................................. 137
5.1 The language ......................................................................................................................... 137
5.2 The structure of the noun phrase in Mauritian creole............................................................ 138
5.3 The distribution of the Mauritian Creole determiner............................................................. 142
5.3.1 Points in common with the Haitian Creole determiner..................................................... 143
5.3.2 Points of divergence from the Haitian Creole determiner ................................................ 146
5.4 Discussion ............................................................................................................................. 159
6. Kind-denoting definite descriptions ............................................................................................ 161
6.1 Carlson’s (1977) theory of kind reference............................................................................. 161
6.2 Chierchia (1998): kinds as concepts...................................................................................... 162
6.3 Kind-denoting descriptions in creole and English................................................................. 166
6.4 Taxonomic descriptions ........................................................................................................ 169
Appendix: Comparison with previous literature.................................................................................. 172
7. Definiteness marking across languages....................................................................................... 177
7.1 Summary of the results.......................................................................................................... 177
7.2 Other languages with split definiteness marking systems ..................................................... 182
7.2.1 Fering (North Frisian)....................................................................................................... 183
7.2.2 Norwegian ........................................................................................................................ 191
7.2.3 Lakhota............................................................................................................................. 195
7.2.4 Amern............................................................................................................................... 197
7.2.5 Summary........................................................................................................................... 199
8. Definite descriptions and the semantics-pragmatics boundary ................................................ 203
References ............................................................................................................................................... 213