Degrees as kinds

Abstract

This paper argues that a variety of constructions in a variety of languages suggest a deep connection between kinds, manners, and degrees. We articulate a way of thinking about degrees on which this connection is less surprising, rooted in the idea that degrees are kinds of Davidsonian states. This enables us to provide a cross-categorial compositional semantics for a class of expressions that can serve as anaphors to kinds, manners, and degrees, or introduce clauses that further characterize them. A consequence of this is that equatives emerge as a special case of a more general cross-categorial phenomenon. The analysis is undergirded by independently motivated assumptions about free relatives and type shifting. It provides evidence for a view of degrees on which they are significantly more ontologically complex than is typically thought.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Jak also has other uses. Citko (2000) points out that in embedded contexts it has a use as a temporal adverbial and as the antecedent of a conditional, though she argues that these involve a different form of the word that is a wh-complementizer rather than the phrasal wh-expression that gives rise to the readings in (2).

  2. 2.

    Indeed, German solch ‘such’ is in fact historically derived from so and a morpheme similar to like, which suggests construing the like morpheme as a means of deriving adjectival solch from adverbial so (Berit Gehrke, p.c.).

  3. 3.

    Thanks to an anonymous reviewer for pointing out this important connection, which we embarrassingly overlooked in earlier versions of this paper.

  4. 4.

    Thanks to an anonymous reviewer for this suggestion.

  5. 5.

    For some such cases, one might attempt a propositional paraphrase (e.g., for (27a), ‘it’s visible that Clyde is happy’), but even this strategy is unavailable for (28). For a few, one might imagine an intersective property-of-individuals interpretation (e.g., for (28b), ‘Gaudí furniture is bulbous and dynamic’), but this is not possible for most of (27) or openly contemptuous.

  6. 6.

    This yields an exactly-reading for the measure phrase. The at-least reading could be obtained by a denotation closer to what’s suggested for the eval morpheme in (35).

  7. 7.

    We have adapted the denotation to accord with the Chierchia-style conception of kinds and with our other notational conventions.

  8. 8.

    This is precisely what Landman (2006) proposes for like, and she considers such a denotation for such for the same reason.

  9. 9.

    On the other hand, tak is, in its adnominal use, obligatorily inflected, which suggests an adjectival syntax.

  10. 10.

    Again, however, both options are in principle available. On the newer view, one could place the tak phrase in the specifier of DegP, the position occupied by measure phrases.

  11. 11.

    A closely related strategy might be to appeal to the distinction between ordinary and well-established kinds, which Gehrke shows is relevant to the modification possibilities of German adjectival passives. Running any given distance is not a well-established kind of event, but perhaps being any given height is in fact a well-established kind of state—all heights are well-established kinds of tallness, but not all distances are well-established kinds of running.

  12. 12.

    Again, the precise implementation of this is not crucial. Other possibilities include a default binding mechanism or operator movement as in English that relatives in the style of Heim and Kratzer (1998). The most appealing alternative, though, is to suppose that jak actually spells out this relativizing operator. This would entail assuming it occurs as the complement of tak, denotes a function, and therefore must wh-move and leave behind a kind-denoting trace. Because of the identity-function denotation, it would have no effect in its displaced position apart from triggering lambda abstraction.

  13. 13.

    A reviewer points out that this isn’t actually so obvious. We happily refer to discontinuous spatial locations (the territory of the US), so why can’t there be a unique but discontinuous location where no one has gone before? It’s not obvious. But on such an analysis, one might expect where no man has gone before to introduce a discourse referent for this discontinuous region. Yet it would be odd to follow (51) with It is a vast place or What is its area?

  14. 14.

    This interpretation actually predicts potential scope interactions. The judgments rapidly get precarious, but in a sentence such as Every linguist thought she saw a dog such as Floyd, every linguist should scope over the existential contributed by the as-phrase, meaning that the sentence should be true if some linguists think they saw a terrier, others think they saw a male dog, others still a 3-year-old dog, and so on, so long as Floyd actually has all these properties. This seems plausible. Thanks to an audience at Ohio State for discussion on this point.

  15. 15.

    A reviewer points out that it’s not actually obvious that an existential interpretation is appropriate here. Perhaps Floyd and Clyde count as having sung the same way only if their singing was identical in all relevant manners? Indeed, we use a definite description in characterizing the way he sang (not # a way he sang). It’s a delicate question because the individuation criteria for manners are so unclear and the notion of relevance so elastic. But it seems reasonable to say e.g. Floyd died as Clyde did: poor and alone, even if one was stabbed to death and the other died of dysentery. The definiteness requirement in the way he sang may stem from the same slightly mysterious source as in the wrong answer (not # a wrong answer, even though there are almost invariably many; Schwarz 2006).

  16. 16.

    One avenue left unexplored here is the idea that different levels of structure above AP might be properties of different varieties of states.

  17. 17.

    It’s worth noting that (73a) doesn’t naturally get the speaker-oriented reading paraphrasable as Strangely, Floyd is tall.

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Acknowledgements

This paper grows out of work conducted by one of the authors in collaboration with Meredith Landman (Landman and Morzycki 2003). Thanks also to Adam Gobeski, Ai Matsui, Alex Clarke, Ania Łubowicz, Anne-Michelle Tessier, Berit Gehrke, Carlos de Cuba, Chris O’Brien, Elena Castroviejo Miró, Erik Wedin, Gabriel Roisenberg Rodrigues, Geraldine Legendre, Greg Johnson, Jan Anderssen, Judith Tonhauser, Kay Ann Schlang, Kyle Rawlins, Leila Rotschy, Louise McNally, Olga Eremina, Paul Portner, Paul Smolensky, Peter Culicover, Phil Pellino, Tom Ernst, Vesela Simeonova, and audiences at The Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Calgary, and the 2011 Workshop on Modification With and Without Modifiers in Madrid; and to Andrea Beltrama, Ryan Bochnak, and an anonymous NLLT reviewer for very helpful written comments.

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Anderson, C., Morzycki, M. Degrees as kinds. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 33, 791–828 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-015-9290-z

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Keywords

  • Degrees
  • Kinds
  • Manners
  • Equatives
  • Anaphora
  • Relative clauses
  • Cross-categorial phenomena