University of Stuttgart
Institute for Computational Linguistics
The ... Project


Semantic Significance of Syntactic Explanatory Mechanisms


Prof. Dr. Hans Kamp PhD


Anette Frank (MA)


This is a project about the syntax-semantics interface. Its principalfoci are:
  1. The provenance and management of variables;
  2. thelogically transparent representation of modal and intentionalinformation and the source of such representations in overt linguisticform; and
  3. the semantic analysis of sentence-embedding constructions.Point of departure are the assumptions about the introduction and bindingof variables (discourse referents) in discourse representations that formthe conceptual basis of DRT.


  1. The role of variables has been one of the central issues inunderstanding how content is determined by syntactic form since thebeginnings of generative syntax and formal semantics and yet manyquestions relating to variables remain unanswered. The present projectfocusses in particular on
    1. the part played by various types ofindefinites (singular and plural indefinites with indefinite determiners,bare plurals and mass nouns);
    2. the connections and differences betweensyntactic and semantic binding;
    3. the role of variables in theinterpretation of tense, aspect and modality, especially in connectionwith adverbial quantification; and
    4. the behaviour of variables withinmodal and attitudinal contexts.
  2. A central concern of the project is to explore the semanticcontributions made by anaphoric and other NPs occurring within modal orattitudinal contexts. The correct analysis of these contributions isclosely connected with, and in fact provides important clues to, findingthe right representations for modal and attitudinal contexts, including asatisfactory denotational semantics for these representations.
  3. The third main concern of the project, which is continuous with(ii), is to determine the semantic import of various embedded andunembedded German sentence constructions, such as various types of directand embedded questions, verb-initial sentences that are not questions and"verb zweit" embedded clauses.

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IMS Stuttgart / / Thu Feb 27 12:00:20 1997 (michl)