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Singular Thought and Mental Files$
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Rachel Goodman, James Genone, and Nick Kroll

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198746881

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198746881.001.0001

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Definite Reports of Indefinites

Definite Reports of Indefinites

Chapter:
(p.207) 10 Definite Reports of Indefinites
Source:
Singular Thought and Mental Files
Author(s):

Samuel Cumming

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198746881.003.0010

In certain circumstances, it is possible to report the utterance of an indefinite noun phrase using a definite referring expression, such as a name or pronoun. The referent of the definite must match the individual the original speaker had “in mind” when uttering the indefinite, and the speaker must not have been in a position to use a definite instead (the individual in question must not have been familiar, and so identifiable, to the hearer at the time of the original utterance). To account for this data, the chapter claims that indefinites refer (though truth-conditionally they function like restricted existential quantifiers), but also that coreference is not always sufficient for substitution in an indirect report. (Perhaps surprisingly, the second, less controversial, claim will explain the cases motivating the condition of hearer non-identifiability.) In sum, the data tells us about the semantics of indefinites and the tolerances of indirect reporting.

Keywords:   hyperintensionality, specificity, indefinites, indirect reports, reference

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