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2005 LSA Institute Linguistic Society of America
Special Lectures








Special Lectures
Social Events


Forum Lecture


Ellen Prince, University of Pennsylvania
Thursday, July 21st
6:45-8:00 PM Reception, La Sala de Puerto Rico (W20-2nd floor)
8:00-9:30 PM Talk, Kresge Auditorium (W16-109)
Commentator: Irene Heim

Semantic Reference vs. Discourse Reference: Now You See It, Now You Don't
The relationship between semantics and pragmatics has long puzzled many researchers. The subfield of reference has been particularly irksome since it seems to be the most basic semantic phenomenon there is but also seems to crucially involve discourse-level factors, e.g. the choice of a referring expression, including definites vs. indefinites, and the possibilities of discourse anaphora, i.e when and how we may refer back to a previously introduced entity. In fact, two major theories, DRT and Filecard Semantics, attempt to account in a single framework for truth-conditional meaning, the definite/indefinite issue, and discourse anaphora possibilites. In this paper, I argue that reference must be handled in at least two (sub)components, one which gives the truth-conditional meaning of the sentence in question (pick your favorite semantic reference theory) and another which resolves discourse anaphora. The phenomenon examined here involves the impersonal subject pronoun (ISP) in Yiddish ( me(n) 'one') and French ( on 'one'), inter alia, in particular the inability to refer to the entity evoked by the ISP by a subsequent personal pronoun. Two previous attempts to account for this, Chierchia 1995 and Koenig 1999, are discussed, and a third proposal is presented involving the separation of the task of determining the truth-conditional contribution of the item from the task of accounting for its discourse anaphora possibilities.