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Liefke, Kristina (2012): A Single-Type Ontology for Natural Language. In: UNSPECIFIED

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In (Montague, 1970a), Richard Montague defines a formal theory of linguistic meaning that interprets natural languages through the use of two basic types of objects: individuals and propositions. In this paper, I present a comparable semantic theory that only uses a single basic type of object (hence, single-type semantics). The possibility of the latter has been conjectured by Partee (2006) to account for the ambiguity between a noun phrase’s referential and assertoric interpretation (observed in (Carstairs-McCarthy, 1999; Cheney and Seyfarth, 1990; Snedeker et al., 2007)).

My paper provides ontological support for Partee’s hypothesis. To this aim, I first identify a number of semantic requirements (i.e. Booleanness, representability, intensionality, and partiality) on any single basic type and apply them to the set of the simplest Montagovian types. This process enables the elimination of all but one candidate: partial sets of propositions. The remainder of the paper surveys the objects in this domain. The paper closes with an assessment of the merits of single-type semantics and pointers to future work.

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