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A-definites and the discourse status of implicit arguments

By Jean-pierre Koenig and Gail Mauner


This paper focuses on the semantics of implicit arguments and compares it with that of explicit indefinites with which they can be truth-conditionally paraphrased. It is shown that once the discourse-potential of expressions is taken into account, the semantics of implicit arguments differs from their indefinite explicit counterparts. They are shown to be semantically identical to a particular kind of non-quantificational NP (a-definites) which are characterized by their inability to serve as antecedents for future reference. A model of this behavior of implicit arguments, it is argued, follows naturally from the underlying assumption of Discourse Representation Theory that semantic representations must include two kinds of information, a set of available discourse markers and a set of predicative conditions. Because implicit arguments satisfy a predicate's argument positions without introducing discourse markers into the Discourse Representation Structure of a sentence, they cannot serve as the antecedent of definite pronouns. When they do enter into anaphoric relations it is not through discourse markers equality clauses, but instead is the result of either lexical identification of variables (via semantic detransitivization o

Year: 1999
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