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GENNARO CHIERCHIA, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This work is intended as an inquiry into the nature of predication in natural languages. The theory of properties and predication built into Montague semantics is based on Russell's theory of types and a possible world approach to intensionality. It is argued that any theory so conceived turns out to be inadequate for the analysis of linguistic facts related to nominalization. An alternative theory inspired by work on second order logic by Cocchiarella is developed. Such a theory tries to make precise Frege's insight that properties have two modes of being: as predicable structures properties are intrinsically unsaturated (something like propositional functions); such structures are, however, systematically correlated to individuals (actions, kinds, etc.). Nominalized predicates purport to refer to individual correlates of propositional functions. This semantic model of predication (SMP) is built into a Montague-style categorial grammar and argued to provide several results. In the first place, it embodies constraints on possible typs of natural language meanings that rule out a number of a priori conceivable and yet unattested grammatical processes. It also sheds light on various distributional paradigms of English predicative expressions. In particular, the distribution of PRO (the null subject of infinitives postulated within the transformational tradition) is shown to be deducible from SMP. Our account is crucially based on the hypothesis that infinitives and gerunds are not clausal or propositional constructions and tries to provide support for such an hypothesis, also drawing from analyses of various anaphoric phenomena. If infinitives and gerunds do not have a propositional nature, a new account of control is called for. Control is argued to be an entailment licensed by a certain class of predicates. A general characterization of such entailments is offered in the form of a meaning postulate. It is furthermore argued, following an idea of Williams, that semantic predication is encoded in the syntax as some sort of coindexing between subjects and predicates. This device interacts with the notion of semantic function-argument structure to provide elements of a theory of binding not based on phrase structural configurations.

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

CHIERCHIA, GENNARO, "TOPICS IN THE SYNTAX AND SEMANTICS OF INFINITIVES AND GERUNDS" (1984). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI8410273.