This book takes concepts developed by researchers in theoretical computer science and adapts and applies them to the study of natural language meaning. Summarizing more than a decade of research, Chris Barker and Chung-chieh Shan put forward the Continuation Hypothesis: that the meaning of a natural language expression can depend on its own continuation. In Part I, the authors develop a continuation-based theory of scope and quantificational binding and provide an explanation for order sensitivity in scope-related phenomena such as scope ambiguity, crossover, superiority, reconstruction, negative polarity licensing, dynamic anaphora, and donkey anaphora. Part II outlines an innovative substructural logic for reasoning about continuations and proposes an analysis of the compositional semantics of adjectives such as 'same' in terms of parasitic and recursive scope. It also shows that certain cases of ellipsis should be treated as anaphora to a continuation, leading to a new explanation for a subtype of sluicing known as sprouting.
The book makes a significant contribution to work on scope, reference, quantification, and other central aspects of semantics and will appeal to semanticists in linguistics and philosophy at graduate level and above.
Chris Barker is Professor of Linguistics at New York University. He has held positions at a number of universities, including 10 years at University of California, San Diego. His 1991 PhD thesis, 'Possessive Descriptions', was published in 1995 by CSLI, Stanford. He is the co-editor with Pauline Jacobson of Direct Compositionality (OUP 2007), the co-founder of semanticsarchive.net, and co-editor with Chris Kennedy of the series 'Oxford Surveys in Semantics and Pragmatics' and 'Oxford Studies in Semantics and Pragmatics'.
Chung-chieh Shan is Professor of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University, and was previously Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Rutgers University. He received his PhD in computer science in 2005 from Harvard University and has published articles in Linguistics and Philosophy, Journal of Logic, Language and Information, and Science of Computer Programming.
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