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Pragmatic Variation Among Specificity Markers

  • Tania Ionin
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy book series (SLAP, volume 92)

Abstract

This chapter examines the semantics and pragmatics of two markers of epistemic specificity: reduced indefinite this in English (Prince E, On the inferencing of indefinite-this NPs. In: Joshi A, Webber B, Sag I (eds) Elements of discourse understanding, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 231–250, 1981) and reduced odin “one” in Russian. It is shown that while the two markers have many properties in common, they are subject to subtly different pragmatic requirements. It is proposed that while indefinite this carries a felicity condition of noteworthy property (Ionin T, Nat Lang Semant 14:175–234, 2006), reduced odin carries a felicity condition of identifiability (cf. Farkas D, Varieties of indefinites. In: Jackson B (ed) Proceedings of SALT 12, Ithaca, Cornell University/CLC Publications, Ithaca, 2002b). Empirical consequences of this distinction are discussed, and crosslinguistic evidence from German and Hebrew is brought in to show that both types of felicity conditions are attested on specificity markers crosslinguistically.

Keywords

Specificity Marker Relative Clause Indefinite Article Felicity Condition Noteworthy Property 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Big thanks to Ora Matushansky and Eddy Ruys for very helpful comments and suggestions. I am grateful to Danny Fox, Barry Schein, and Philippe Schlenker for interesting discussion. Thanks to Vita Markman and Asya Pereltsvaig, as well as several nonlinguist informants, for Russian judgments; to Hagit Borer and Nora Boneh for information and judgments about Hebrew; and to Michael Wagner for information and judgments about German. I am grateful to the audiences of the “Funny Indefinites” workshop in Berlin (July 2007) and of the Indefinites Panel at AATSEEL 2007 (December 2007), where earlier versions of this chapter were presented. Thank you to an anonymous reviewer of this chapter and to the editors of this volume for helpful comments and suggestions.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA

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