Sasha Simonenko will be defending her PhD dissertation this week, details are below. All are invited to the defense.

Title:  Grammatical ingredients of definiteness

Time: Friday, April 4th at 3:00pm

Location: Education building, room 338


This dissertation presents arguments in favour of explicit Logical Form representation of components responsible for direct referentiality and domain restriction in definites, with focus on Autro-Bavarian German, Standard Swedish, and Standard Canadian English. It provides a semantico-pragmatic analysis of the ban on wh-subextraction out of DPs with the “strong” articles in Austro-Bavarian and demonstratives in English which assumes their direct referentiality. The ungrammaticality of question formation is proposed to result from the pathological uninformativeness of possible answers. The ban on wh-subextraction thus emerges as a new testing tool for direct referentiality.

I further propose an analysis of the cases where strong articles and demonstratives do not to behave directly referentially. Assuming structural decomposition of strong articles and demonstratives into a determiner head and a relational head, I propose that directly referential interpretation results from a silent individual pronoun occupying the specifier of the relational head, whereas covarying interpretations arise as a result of either a restrictive relative clause occupying this position, or else a relational noun functioning as the relational component itself. I proceed to extend this approach to account for the distribution of strong and weak definite articles in DPs with restrictive relative clauses.

In the second part I analyze the pattern of the free-standing article omission in Swedish. I identify the omission with the use of a covert restrictor-less definite article, which accounts for why it is easily available with context-sensitive modifiers whose semantics has to make reference to a domain restrictor, but is limited to the cases of “global uniqueness” with context-insensitive ones. Thus Swedish, I propose, illustrates the case of a “rudimentary” article which, if the only one available, would make the problem of incomplete descriptions unsurmountable. This conclusion relies on, and thus provides evidence for, the unavailability of either domain restriction at the NP-level or implicit global restriction of the domain of individuals as means of modelling the behaviour of Swedish definites.