20 November: Juergen Bohnemeyer and bipartite indexicals

This week join us for a discussion session led by Juergen Bohnemeyer. We’ll be talking about bipartate inexicals in Tseltal and Yucatec, as per the following abstract:
A curious and under-researched property of some Mayan languages (I present data from Tseltal and Yucatec) is the bipartite morphology of space- and time-indexical expressions. These expressions combine an element that appears in the syntactic position in which the referent of the indexical is interpreted (i.e., enters the semantic composition) with a clause-final particle. Strikingly, it is this second element, the particle, that determines whether the bipartite indexical is interpreted anaphorically or exophorically. Clauses do not accept more than one such particle. In case of multiple triggers in a single clause, the particle that is realized is determined according to a hierarchy whereby exophoric triggers trump anaphoric ones. My goal is to develop a possible situation-semantic analysis in the framework of Kratzer (2014), inspired by  Kaplan’s (1989) dichotomy between ‘character’ and ‘content’. ‘Content’ refers to the classic Fregean sense meaning, for which Kaplan assumes the standard model-theoretic treatment in terms of a mapping from worlds to extensions. More specifically, contents map pairs of (extra-linguistic) contexts and possible worlds into extensions. ‘Character’, on the other hand, is a mapping from possible contexts into contents. In Kaplan’s terms, the first element of the bipartite deictics expresses their content, whereas the second, the clause-final particle, expresses their character.

Prep readings (the first two are on UBlearns):

Bohnemeyer, J. 2015. Deixis. In J. D. Wright (editor-in-chief), International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences, 2nd edition, Vol 6. Oxford: Elsevier. 52–57.

Bohnemeyer, J. 2012. Yucatec demonstratives in interaction: spontaneous vs. elicited data. In Andrea C. Schalley (Ed.), Practical theories and empirical practice. Amsterdam/New York: John Benjamins. 99-128.

Kratzer, A. 2014. Situations in natural language semantics. In E. N. Zalta (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition). URL = <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2014/entries/situations-semantics/>.


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