Lucas Champollion (New York University),
Donkey sentences have existential and universal readings, but they are not
often perceived as ambiguous. We extend the pragmatic theory of non-
maximality in plural definites by Križ (2016) to explain how hearers use
Questions under Discussion to fix the interpretation of donkey sentences
in context. We propose that the denotations of such sentences involve truth-
value gaps – in certain scenarios the sentences are neither true nor false –
and demonstrate that Križ’s pragmatic theory fills these gaps to generate
the standard judgments of the literature. Building on Muskens’s (1996)
Compositional Discourse Representation Theory and on ideas from
supervaluation semantics, we define a general schema for dynamic
quantification that delivers the required truth-value gaps.
(This talk presents joint work with Dylan Bumford and Robert Henderson.
Paper at http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/003333)