Filipe Hisao Kobayashi
Department of Linguistics
Interpreting NPs as predicates of individual concepts
The starting point of this talk is an observation due to Nathan (2006) concerning the meaning of sentences of the form ‘every NP changed.’ For example, for sentence (1) to be true, it must be that I replaced every book on my shelf with a book that wasn’t on my shelf before. Sentence (2), on the other hand, can be true even if the members of the set of governors remain the same — e.g., it can be true in a scenario in which the governors just swapped positions. It turns out that, for the most part, sentences of this form will either be interpreted as (1) or as (2). Nathan suggested that the distribution of these two interpretations is determined by formal properties of the NPs involved — namely, by whether they’re headed by a relational noun or not.
(1) Every book on my shelf changed.
(2) Every governor changed.
In this talk, I propose a novel solution to this puzzle. Following Montague (1957), I take NPs in these sentences to be interpreted not as predicates of ordinary individuals but as predicates of intensional individuals (so-called individual concepts). I advance a theory of how NPs can be shifted into such predicates which highlights the role of the NP’s internal structure. Nathan’s observation will then follow from how this shifting procedure interacts with other quantifiers within the NP.