Homogeneity in donkey sentences

Lucas Champollion


Donkey sentences have existential and universal readings, but they are not often perceived as ambiguous. I extend the pragmatic theory of homogeneity in plural definites by Križ (2016) to explain how context disambiguates donkey sentences. I propose that a semantic theory produces truth value gaps in certain scenarios, and a pragmatic theory fills these gaps in context-dependent ways. By locating the parallel between donkey pronouns and definite plurals is located in the pragmatics rather than in the semantics, I avoid problems known to arise for some previous accounts according to which donkey pronouns and definite plurals both have plural referents (Krifka 1996; Yoon 1996). I sketch an extension of plural compositional DRT (Brasoveanu 2008) that delivers the required truth value gaps by building on concepts from error-state semantics and supervaluation quantifiers. 

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v26i0.3864

Copyright (c) 2016 Lucas Champollion