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Experimenting with the king of France: Topics, verifiability and definite descriptions

Abrusan, Marta and Szendroi, Kriszta Experimenting with the king of France: Topics, verifiability and definite descriptions. (2013) Semantics and Pragmatics, 6. 1-43. ISSN 1937-8912

(Document in English)

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.6.10


Definite descriptions with reference failure have been argued to give rise to different truth-value intuitions depending on the local linguistic context in which they appear. We conducted an experiment to investigate these alleged differences, thereby contributing new data to the debate. We have found that pragmatic strategies dependent on verification and topicalisation, suggested in the context of trivalent/partial theories, indeed play a role in people's subjective judgments. We discuss the consequences of these findings for all major approaches to definite descriptions (i.e. Russellian, Strawsonian, pragmatic). Finally, we offer a discussion of the relative contribution of verificational and topicality effects on truth values, reaching the conclusion that verification is primarily relevant and topicality is dependent on that. We thus support von Fintel's (2004) position on the primacy of verification, but not his dismissal of topicality as a factor

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Thanks to Linguistic Society of America editor. The definitive version is available at http://semprag.org/article/view/sp.6.10
HAL Id:hal-01124406
Audience (journal):International peer-reviewed journal
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Institution:French research institutions > Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - CNRS (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Institut National Polytechnique de Toulouse - Toulouse INP (FRANCE)
Other partners > University College of London - UCL (UNITED KINGDOM)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse III - Paul Sabatier - UT3 (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse - Jean Jaurès - UT2J (FRANCE)
Université de Toulouse > Université Toulouse 1 Capitole - UT1 (FRANCE)
Other partners > Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (GERMANY)
Laboratory name:
Deposited On:06 Mar 2015 08:45

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