Three and a Half Squibs
|(1)||a.||I want||you||to use your own pencil.|
|b.||*||I want||to use your own pencil.|
[From discussions with Svetlana Godjevac and Peter Lasersohn.]
|(1)||The exact number of days between Christmas and New Year's is 7.|
|(2)||The exact number of days between New Year's and Christmas is 348.|
Are (1) and (2) ambiguous? If so, then it is possible for a felicitous definite description to refer to two distinct objects in one and the same context. If not, what is the model-theoretic difference in denotation between Christmas and New Year's versus New Year's and Christmas? Consider also:
|(3)||[Depending on whether you start heading east or west,]|
The exact distance bewteen New York and Tokyo is 11K/13K miles.
|(1)||a.||The pole was very long and thin.||[= very long and very thin]|
|b.||The pole was very long and red.||[= very long and (*very) red]|
|(2)||a.||She was very rich and thin.||[= very rich and very thin]|
|b.||She was very rich and lost.||[= very rich and (*very) lost]|
In order for very to distribute over coordinated gradable adjectives, there seems to be a requirement that the two adjectival properties be causally related. That is, long poles tend to be comparatively thin, and richness is posivitively correlated with thinness [in the popular conception].
Never mind the strength or the details of this constraint, the problem is providing a general compositional denotation for the conjoined adjectives. Long and thin are commensurate (both are measured in degrees of length), but richness is measured in dollarsso what does the compound property rich and thin measure?
Presumably an adequate analysis would automatically extend to the construction in (3):
|(3)||She was rich and haughty enough to intimidate anyone.|
[Thanks for discussion with Chris Kennedy, Peter Lasersohn, and Louise McNally.]
This is more of a graduate exam question than a squib, but:
|(1)||[Back of a Blockbuster video:]|
Always view at room temperature (above 50 degrees or below 85 degrees) to prevent damage.
Develop a Grice-aware theory of the interaction of context with disjunction under which the parenthetical restriction is neither impossible to satisfy nor trivial.