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Plural Predication$
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Thomas McKay

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199278145

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199278145.001.0001

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THE : Context Sensitivity

THE : Context Sensitivity

(p.185) 8 THE: Context Sensitivity
Plural Predication

Thomas J. McKay (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers the significance of the context sensitivity of definite descriptions (singular and plural) and suggests some ways of understanding it. It argues that many uses of definite descriptions are ‘incomplete’. That is, the explicit definite description does not uniquely specify an individual or, in the plural case, some maximally inclusive individuals; we rely on context to provide the additional resources that make the description uniquely applicable. Two processes of contextual supplementation are important here. One is predicate supplementation: a brief definite description stands proxy for a longer definite description that can be constructed by adding predicates that are explicit in the discourse context. The other is domain restriction: the context restricts the domain for the definite description, with uniqueness achieved within that smaller domain.

Keywords:   quantifiers, definite description, predicate supplementation, domain restriction

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