The Dennes Room

Event Detail

Tue Dec 2, 2014
234 Moses Hall, 2:30–4:30 PM
Meaning Sciences Club
Richard Lawrence (UC Berkeley)
Three Analyses of Specificational Sentences

Specificational sentences are a type of copular sentence, in which the pre-copular phrase expresses a constraint, and the post-copular phrase says what satisfies that constraint. Pseudo-clefts like “What Caesar wants is his ball’’ provide a prototypical example, though I am more interested in specificational sentences with NP subjects. I consider three types of semantic analysis for specificational sentences in the literature: the inversion analysis, the equative analysis, and the question-answer analysis. I will argue that the inversion analysis and the equative analysis have complementary virtues and vices. The question-answer analysis provides a perspicuous way of unifying their virtues into a single account.