, Volume 33, Issue 1, pp 11-30

Context dependence and implicit arguments in existentials

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Abstract

This paper discusses the semantics of bare existentials, i.e. existentials in which nothing follows the post copular NP (e.g. There are four sections). While it has sometimes been recognized that the interpretation of such sentences depends in some way on context, the exact nature of the context dependence involved has not been properly understood. It is shown that the meaning of bare existentials involves a set-denoting implicit argument, and that the range of interpretations found with bare existentials is predictable from the general properties of implicit arguments. An explicit analysis within a dynamic setting is presented.