Friday, June 1: Yenan Sun

Please join us this Friday as Yenan Sun from the Linguistics Department presents work on expressions of similarity and identity.

Date and time: Friday, June 1, 11:00 a.m. – 12:50 p.m.

Location: Stuart 209 (Philosophy seminar room)

Title: Two strategies of sameness: Chinese tong and xiangtong

This talk examines two ‘same’s in Chinese : the determiner-like tong (preceding Num-Cl) and the adjective xiangtong (taking the modification marker de). I propose they represent two ways of expressing sameness: identity vs. maximal similarity, which correlate with a structural difference — comparatives (DegP) vs. relational adjectives. I show why the identity/maximal similarity distinction cannot be reduced to the token/type-identity distinction (contra Liao&Wang 2014); and further show that the analysis captures two novel generalizations: [1] tong can (only) co-occur with numeral ‘one’ to license an internal reading while xiangtong cannot; [2] xiangtong can co-occur with plural numerals (e.g. two, three) to have a reciprocal reading while tong cannot.

This analysis brings together several lines of research on ‘same’: (i) how ‘same’ is modelled in semantics (the default option is coreference relation ‘λx.λy. x=y’ while Alrenga 2007 proposes the notion of ‘similarity scale’); (ii) whether different uses of ‘same’ (deictic use, internal use) can be unified under a compositional account (Barker 2007, Charnavel 2015, a.o.); and (iii) the connection between ‘same’ and comparatives (Heim 1985, Beck 2000, Alrenga 2007, Matushansky 2010, Oxford 2010, Hanink 2017, a.o.).

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