Donkey pluralities: Plural information states vs. Non-atomic individuals

  • Adrian Brasoveanu


The paper argues that two distinct and independent notions of plurality are involved in natural language anaphora and quantification: plural reference (the usual non-atomic individuals) and plural discourse reference, i.e. reference to a quantificational dependency between sets of objects (e.g. atomic / non-atomic individuals) that is established and subsequently elaborated upon in discourse. Following van den Berg (1996), plural discourse reference is modeled as plural information states (i.e. as sets of variable assignments) in a new dynamic system couched in classical type logic that extends Compositional DRT (Muskens 1996). Given the underlying type logic, compositionality at sub-clausal level follows automatically and standard techniques from Montague semantics (e.g. type shifting) become available. The idea that plural info states are semantically necessary (over and above non-atomic individuals) is motivated by relative-clause donkey sentences with multiple instances of singular donkey anaphora. At the same time, allowing for non-atomic individuals over and above plural info states enables us to capture the intuitive parallels between singular and plural (donkey) anaphora, while deriving the incompatibility between singular donkey anaphora and collective predicates.
How to Cite
Brasoveanu, A. (2019). Donkey pluralities: Plural information states vs. Non-atomic individuals. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 11, 106-120.