November 11: Rick Nouwen

The Semantics and Philosophy of Language Workshop is pleased to welcome Rick Nouwen (Utrech University) for our fourth talk of the quarter.

DATE: November 11, 2011
TIME: 11-1pm
PLACE: Wieboldt 130

‘On wh-exclamatives and “noteworthiness”‘

In this talk, I will present joint work with Anna Chernilovskaya on wh-exclamatives. There are two dominating approaches to the semantics of sentences. One approach claims that wh-exclamatives are degree constructions involving degree intensification of a possibly implicit degree property (see, especially, Rett (2011)). The opposing account, mainly due to Zanuttini and Portner (2003), has it that wh-exclamatives involve a mechanism of domain widening. In this paper we show that the mechanisms behind the two competing approaches are basically indistinguishable. Moreover, we point out that there is a kind of wh-exclamatives for which these approaches do not provide the expected semantics. Finally, we put forward a distinctive and crucially much simpler proposal: exclamatives directly express a noteworthiness evaluation, either of the referent associated to the wh-phrase or of the open proposition underlying the exclamative.