Interpreting Bare Nouns: Type-Shifting vs. Silent Heads

Yu Izumi


Bare noun phrases in article-less languages such as Japanese have a variety of interpretations. There are two competing approaches to the semantics of bare noun phrases: one is to appeal to type-shifting to derive various interpretations, and
the other is to introduce more structure, i.e., silent determiners. I present an argument against the latter silent-head approach based on the behaviors of phonologically null arguments in Japanese. The silent-head approach has difficulties in explaining the semantics of null arguments, whatever syntactic analysis of null arguments turns out
to be correct. The type-shifting approach to bare noun phrases, by contrast, easily accounts for the semantics of null arguments.


bare noun; type-shifting; silent determiner; null argument; Japanese

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