Papers & Publications


Common Nouns as Modally Non-Rigid Restricted Variables

Argues that common nouns should be analyzed as modally non-rigid restricted type e variables, rather than as constants of type 〈e, t〉. This predicts that all nominal quantification is conservative, derives the weak reading of donkey anaphora and solves the proportion problem without additional stipulation, improves the analysis of the temperature paradox, allows a more unified treatment of bare plurals, regularizes the correspondence between syntactic categories and semantic types, and explains the easy omissibility of articles. Linguistics and Philosophy (2020). Prefinal version [1049K] includes material omitted from the published version.

 Common Nouns as Variables: Evidence from Conservativity and the Temperature Paradox

A more limited version of the paper above. Argues that common nouns should be analyzed as modally non-rigid restricted type e variables, rather than as constants of type 〈e, t〉. This predicts that all nominal quantification is conservative, and makes possible some improvements in the analysis of the temperature paradox. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21 vol. 2 pp. 731–746 (2018) [305K].

Subjectivity and Perspective in Truth-Theoretic Semantics

Book-length development of relativist semantics for predicates of personal taste and other expressions. Includes analyses of indexicality, attitude reports (including de se attitudes), autocentric vs. exocentric assessment, the functional motivation for relativist semantics, and other topics. Oxford University Press (2017). Prefinal version [2.1M].

InquiryNon-World Indices and Assessment-Sensitivity

Argues that a semantic theory should employ indices other than possible worlds in the assignment of truth values to sentence contents only when the values of such indices are fixed by the context of assessment, not the context of use, eliminating MacFarlane’s category of “non-indexical contextualism.” Inquiry 56.2-3.122-148 (2013). (Earlier version presented at the conference “Contexts, Perspectives, and Relative Truth” held at the University of Bonn, June 9–11, 2011.)  Prefinal version [207K].

L&P coverContextualism and Compositionality

Advocates strictly separating the question of whether meaning assignment is compositional from issues of how people figure out the meanings of complex expressions; argues that compositional interpretation is consistent with radical contextual effects on truth conditions. Linguistics and Philosophy 35.2.171-189 (2012). Earlier version presented under the title ‘On the Possibility of Compositional Pragmatics’ at the conference “Contextualism and Compositionality,” École Normale Supérieure, Paris, May 17–20, 2010.  Prefinal version [156K].

Book page from DeGruyter

Mass Nouns and Plurals

Surveys the semantics of mass and plural expressions. Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, ed. by Klaus von Heusinger, Claudia Maienborn and Paul Portner, DeGruyter, vol. 2, pp. 1131–1153 (2011). Prefinal version [203K] contains material not included in published version.

Published version from SpringerLink

Context, Relevant Parts and (Lack of) Disagreement over Taste

Responds to an argument against relativist semantics advanced in Cappelen and Hawthorne’s Relativism and Monadic Truth.  Philosophical Studies 156.3.433–439 (2011). Prefinal version [87K].

Published version from SpringerLinkNELS version

Relative Truth, Speaker Commitment, and Control of Implicit Arguments

Motivates a relativist semantics independently of “faultless disagreement” by examing the behavior of predicates of personal taste in factive environments and under the verb consider.  Synthese 166.359–374 (2009).  Prefinal version [142 K]. Slightly revised from the version in the proceedings of NELS 37 [217K].

Hinrichs and Nerbonne

Compositional Interpretation in which the Meanings of Complex Expressions are not Computable from the Meanings of their Parts

Argues for separating the principle that meaning be computable from the principle of homomorphic interpretation, rather than conflating them both into a single “principle of compositionality.”  Homomorphic interpretation must then be justified on grounds other than language users’ ability to understand novel sentences.  Theory and Evidence in Semantics, ed. by Erhard Hinrichs and John Nerbonne, CSLI Publications, 133–158 (2009).  Prefinal version  [226K].

Published version from Wiley Online Library

Quantification and Perspective in Relativist Semantics

Attempts to clarify some issues about the use of hidden arguments to predicates of personal taste, and motivate an analysis which does not make use of such arguments. Philosophical Perspectives 22.305–337 (2008).  Prefinal version [222K].

Published version from DeGruyter Reference Global

Expressives, Perspective and Presupposition

Commentary on Chris Potts’ paper ‘The Expressive Dimension’.  Theoretical Linguistics 33.223–230 (2007)  Prefinal version [67K].

Abstract from Science Direct

Event-Based Semantics

Survey of  semantic analyses using quantification of hidden variables over events.  Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition, ed. by K. Brown, Elsevier, vol. 4, 316–320 (2006).  Prefinal version [114K].

Abstract from Science Direct


Survey of  semantic issues related to plurality.  Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics, 2nd edition, ed. by K. Brown, Elsevier, vol. 9, 642–645 (2006).  Prefinal version [110K].

Published version from SpringerLink

Context Dependence, Disagreement, and Predicates of Personal Taste

Argues that sentences containing “predicates of personal taste” such as fun or tasty vary in truth value from individual to individual without varying in semantic content, and formalizes this idea in a Kaplan-style semantics.  Linguistics and Philosophy 28.643–686 (2005).  Prefinal version [254K].

Published version from MIT Press

The Temperature Paradox as Evidence for a Presuppositional Analysis of Definite Descriptions

Argues that an improvement to Montague’s treatment of the temperature paradox requires abandoning the Russellian analysis of definite descriptions in favor of a presuppositional analysis.  Linguistic Inquiry 36.127–134 (2005).  Prefinal version [123K].

Published version from Cambridge University Press

Review of Flexibility Principles in Boolean Semantics by Yoad Winter

Applied Psycholinguistics 24.317–319 (2003).


Same, Models and Representation

Argues against Nunberg’s (1984) analysis of same and different, and presents an alternative based on the technique of “pragmatic halos.” Includes discussion on basic methodological issues in model-theoretic semantics. Proceedings from Semantics and Linguistic Theory X, ed. by B. Jackson and T. Matthews, CLC Publications, 83–97 (2000) [161K].

Published version from JSTOR

Pragmatic Halos

Argues that certain expressions serve to indicate the intended degree of approximation to the truth, and presents a technique for formalizing their semantics in terms of such approximation.  Language 75.522–551 (1999). Republished in Pragmatics II, vol. 2, 522–551, ed. by Asa Kasher, Routledge (2011).

Published version from IDEALS

Parts, Wholes and Still

This is a short paper on the meaning of still, which takes as its starting point a medieval sophism discussed by William of Sherwood. Studies in the Linguistic Sciences 29.81–86 (1999).

Published version from SpringerLink

Generalized Distributivity Operators

Presents a series of generalizations of distributivity operators across a type hierarchy, in order to account for collective-distributive ambiguities for non-subject arguments.  Linguistics and Philosophy 21.83–93 (1998).

book page from Springer

Events in the Semantics of Collectivizing Adverbials

Revises and defends an event-mereological analysis of together in light of arguments advanced in Roger Schwarzschild’s ‘Plurals, Presuppositions and the Sources of Distributivity’.  Events and Grammar, ed. by Susan Rothstein, Springer, 273–292 (1998). Prefinal version [145K].

Published version from SpringerLink

Bare Plurals and Donkey Anaphora

Argues that a kinds-based analysis of bare plurals is incompatible with an analysis of donkey anaphors as variables, but compatible with an E-type analysis.  Natural Language Semantics 5.79–86 (1997).


Adnominal Conditionals

Argues that certain conditional clauses are irreducibly adnominal, so that if cannot be treated purely as a sentential connective. A unified analysis of adnominal if-clauses and ordinary if-clauses is possible, however, if we assume a semantic theory in which sentences denote sets of events rather than truth values. Proceedings from Semantics and Linguistic Theory VI, ed. by T. Galloway and J. Spence, CLC Publications, 154–166 (1996) [128K].

Book page from Springer

Plurality, Conjunction and Events

Surveys the history of theorizing about the collective-distributive alternation, presents a semantic analysis of this alternation, and unifies the semantics of plurality and conjunction, using event mereology.  Springer (1995).

Linguistic Analysis

Sounds Like Like

Argues that the verb sound is ambiguous between one reading where it denotes a two-place relation between individuals and properties, and a second reading where it serves as a one-place predicate of propositions, and for a corresponding ambiguity in the adjective like.  Linguistic Analysis 25.70–77 (1995). Prefinal version [77K].

Published version from Oxford University Press

Existential Presuppositions and Background Knowledge

Argues that the intuition of a truth value gap in cases of presupposition failure depends on the discourse information state, and in particular whether sufficient information is in the common ground to preclude the truth of the sentence on independent grounds; formalizes this analysis in a semantics using data lattices. Journal of Semantics 10.113–122 (1993).


Lexical Distributivity and Implicit Arguments

Argues for an analysis of implicit arguments using a neo-Davidsonian representation of thematic roles, based on interaction with lexically based distributive interpretations. Proceedings from Semantics and Linguistic Theory III ed. by U. Lahiri and A. Wyner, DMLL Publications, 145–161(1993).

Published version from SpringerLink

Generalized Conjunction and Temporal Modification

Argues for an assimilation of sentential and predicate conjunction to collective conjunction, based on modification of predicates by adverbs such as alternately. Linguistics and Philosophy 15.381–410 (1992).

Published version from SpringerLink

Group Action and Spatio-Temporal Proximity

Presents a unified semantics for various readings of together, using event mereology.  Linguistics and Philosophy 13.179–206 (1990).

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Inclusion-Checking, Exclusion-Checking and Cumulativity

Addresses problems in the interaction of negative quantifiers with cumulative readings for plural predicates.  Texas Linguistic Forum 31.55–70 (1989) [1026K].

Published version from JSTORBook page from Routledge

On the Readings of Plural Noun Phrases

Argues against a Gillon-style covers-based analysis of plural noun phrases.  Linguistic Inquiry 20.130–134 (1989).  Reprinted in Semantics: Critical Concepts in Linguistics, Vol. III: Noun Phrase Classes, ed. by Javier Guttiérrez-Rexach, Routledge,
370–374, (2003).

9781138690905A Semantics for Groups and Events

My dissertation, completed (1988) under the supervision of Prof. David Dowty at Ohio State University.  Addresses a variety of issues in the semantics of plurality, in an event-mereological framework.  The version reproduced here was published (1990) by Garland [8836K]. Reissued by Routledge (2016).

cover imageCollective Nouns and Distributive Determiners

Considers the interaction of collectively interpreted relative clause with determiners that impose a distributive reading, in partitive and non-partitive noun phrases. Papers from the 23rd Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society, Part One: The General Session, ed. by Barbara Need, Eric Schiller and Anna Bosch, Chicago Linguistic Society, 215–229 (1987) [1785K].

ESCOL 86 cover

The Semantics of Appositive and Pseudo-Appositive NP’s

Presents a semantic analysis of two kinds of juxtaposed noun phrase constructions, with attention to restrictions on determiner choice. Proceedings of the Third Eastern States Conference on Linguistics, ed. by Fred Marshall, Ann Miller and Zheng-Sheng Zhang, Ohio State University, 311–322 (1986) [1785K].