Henderson Colloquium

November 14
Harper 130
Wayne State University
Dependent indefinites and the semantics of scope

This paper presents an analysis of a new scope puzzle that arises through the interaction of two lesser-studied constructions, dependent indefinites and verbal pluractionality. The result is a novel account of dependent indefinites that correctly predicts their grammaticality with pluractionals by recognizing two ways of establishing the covariation they require: (i) true distributive quantifiers, and (ii) pluractional operators that structure thematic dependencies. The core insight is that both routes, while compositionally different, lead to similar output structures in Dynamic Plural Logic (DPlL) (van den Berg 1996; Brasoveanu 2008; Nouwen 2003: among others), which is what dependent indefinites constrain. The analysis not only permits a better understanding of dependent indefinites in Kaqchikel, an endangered and understudied Mayan language of highland Guatemala, but it clarifies their place in a crosslinguistic typology of similar expressions (e.g., Balusu 2006; Choe 1987; Farkas 1997a, 2002; Yanovich 2005). Along the way we produce the first description and analysis of these phenomena in Kaqchikel.