Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 149-179

First online:

On the proper treatment of opacity in certain verbs

  • Thomas Ede ZimmermannAffiliated withInstitut für maschinelle Sprachverarbeitung, Univesität Stuttgart

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This paper is about the semantic analysis of referentially opaque verbs like seek and owe that give rise to nonspecific readings. It is argued that Montague's categorization (based on earlier work by Quine) of opaque verbs as properties of quantifiers runs into two serious difficulties: the first problem is that it does not work with opaque verbs like resemble that resist any lexical decomposition of the seek ≈ try to find kind; the second one is that it wrongly predicts de dicto (i.e. narrow scope) readings due to quantified noun phrases in the object positions of such verbs. It is shown that both difficulties can be overcome by an analysis of opaque verbs as operating on properties.