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Explorations in Language and Linguistics

For Professor Piotr Stalmaszczyk on the Occasion of His 60th Birthday

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Edited By Łukasz Bogucki and Piotr Cap

This volume is dedicated to Professor Piotr Stalmaszczyk, Head of the Department of English and General Linguistics at the University of Łódź, on the occasion of his 60th birthday. It includes texts written by his students, colleagues and friends, dealing with a variety of urgent, widely discussed topics in the contemporary language studies. Spanning contributions from language history, philosophy, rhetoric and argumentation, methodology, and discourse studies, it provides an authoritative outline of the field and a timely response to the existing challenges, thus making for a concise handbook of modern linguistics. It is recommended to graduate students of philology, as well as researchers working in linguistics and other disciplines within the broad spectrum of humanities and social sciences.

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Donkey Philosophy. Evidence and Explanation in Theorizing about Semantics (Mieszko Tałasiewicz)

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Mieszko Tałasiewicz

Donkey Philosophy. Evidence and Explanation in Theorizing about Semantics

Abstract: The chapter deals with the problem of truth-conditions of the so called ‘donkey sentences’ (existential versus universal reading). It argues that donkey sentences do not have strictly established truth-conditions for ‘multiple donkeys’ situations and that correct truth-conditions for these sentences might be – and should be – stipulated by some semantic theory based upon certain general principles.

Keywords: donkey sentences – truth-conditions – existential reading – universal reading – donkey merging

Omnis homo habens asinum videt illum

1 Introduction

Let us consider donkey sentences with relative clause, i.e. sentences of the form:

(1) Q FARMER who OWNS a DONKEY BEATS it

where FARMER, DONKEY, OWNS and BEATS are lexical items replaceable with other items of the appropriate semantic category and Q is a quantifier (‘every’, ‘most’, ‘some’ etc.).

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