UCLA - Linguistics

Seminar on Presupposition 

Ling 252 - Fall 2007

P. Schlenker


Last Modification: November 22, 2007

Time and Place

Reminder:    Due to Veterans’ Day, Thanksgiving, and the fact that 3 classes that will missed (2 of which were replaced in advance), the next class will be on Monday, November 26th.

Slides-1 [Dynamic Semantics]

Slides-2 [Transparency Theory]

Ben George's Trivalent Theory

Excursus on Heim 1983

Excursus on Trivalence

Problem Set #1

Problem Set #2

Problem Set #3

Problem Set #4

[See below for a link to Chierchia's 2002 paper on implicatures]


In the 1980's, the analysis of presupposition contributed to a 'dynamic turn' in formal semantics: the concept of 'meaning as truth conditions' was replaced with a more powerful notion, whereby the meaning of a sentence was identified with its potential to modify the beliefs of the speech act
participants. This seminar has two goals:
(i) We will introduce the motivations, formal tools and empirical achievements of the dynamic analysis of presuppositions.
(ii) We will discuss critiques of the dynamic approach and ongoing attempts to offer a systematic alternative to it.
(Time permitting, neighboring topics such as anaphora and implicatures might be touched upon.)


(i) Do the readings and participate actively in class discussions.
(ii) Give one class presentation and/or do some exercises.
(iii) Write one term paper.

Main Readings
(with links whenever possible)

Beaver, D. and Krahmer, E.: 2001,  A Partial Account of Presupposition Projection. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 10, 2. Available here if you login from UCLA.

Chemla, E.: 2007,  
An experimental study of presupposition (and other types of inferences) triggered from the scope of quantifiers. Manuscript, École Normale Supérieure, Paris.  Current version available here.

Chierchia, G.: 2004,  Scalar Implicatures, Polarity Phenomeman, and the Syntax/Pragmatics Interface. In A. Belletti (Ed.), Structures and beyond, pp. 39–103. Oxford University. The 2002 manuscript is available here.
Geurts, B.: 1999, Presupposition and Pronouns
. Elsevier. Some chapters are available  here:
    Chapter one: Presupposition
    Chapter two: The binding theory
    Chapter four: Dynamic semantics
    Chapter six: Modals

Heim, I.: 1983, On the Projection Problem for Presuppositions.
In D. Flickinger et al. (eds), Proceedings of the Second West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, 114-125. Reprinted in Davis, S. (ed): 1991, Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press. [Hard copy of the article available from the organizers]

Heim, I.: 1990, Presupposition Projection.
In R. van der Sandt (ed.) "Presupposition, Lexical Meaning and Discourse Processes: Workshop Reader," University of Nijmegen, 1990. Available here through Semantics Archive.

Karttunen, L.: 1974, Presupposition and Linguistic Context. Theoretical Linguistics 1: 181-194. Reprinted in Davis  (ed): 1991, Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press. Available here from Karttunen's homepage.

Peters, S.: 1979
, A Truth-Conditional Formulation of Karttunen's Account of Presupposition.  Synthese 40,2:  301-316. Available here if you login from UCLA.

Schlenker, P.: to appear, Be Articulate! (A Pragmatic Theory of Presupposition Projection).
To appear as a target article in Theoretical Linguistics in 2008. Current version available here.

Stalnaker, R.: 1974, Pragmatic Presuppositions.
In Munitz, M. and Unger, P. (eds.) Semantics and Philosophy. New York: New York University Press. Reprinted in Davis, S. (ed): 1991, Pragmatics: A Reader, Oxford University Press. [Hard copy of the article available from the organizers]

David Beaver's Bibliography on Presupposition

Other Readings


Beaver, D.: 1997: Presupposition [ps]. In J. van Benthem and A. ter Meulen (eds.), The Handbook of Logic and Language, Elsevier, pp. 939-1008.


Beaver, D. and Zeevat, H.: to appear,  Accommodation.  In Ramchand, G. and C. Reiss (eds.), Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Interfaces, Oxford University Press.

The Transparency Theory

Schlenker, P.: 2007, Anti-Dynamics: Presupposition Projection Without Dynamic Semantics. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 16, 3: 325-256 (32 pages) 

Unified Analysis of Presuppositions and Implicatures

Chemla, E.: 2007, Projecting Presuppositions with Scalar Implicatures,
slides, Sinn und Bedeutung 2007 (Helsinki). [slides] [printable version]

[for later]

-On scalar implicatures (psycholinguistic data)

When children are more logical than adults: experimental investigations of scalar implicature, by Ira A. Noveck.
Cognition, Volume 78, Issue 2, February 2001, Pages 165-188
[Children appear not to compute scalar implicatures]

Scalar implicatures:  experiments at the semantics–pragmatics interface , by Anna Papafragou and Julien Musolino. Cognition
Volume 86, Issue 3 , January 2003, Pages 253-282
[5 year-olds have difficulty accessing scalar implicatures for or; but they readily obtain exactly readings of numerals]

The semantics and acquisition of number words: integrating linguistic and developmental perspectives, by Julien Musolino. Cognition, Volume 93, Issue 1, August 2004, Pages 1-41
[5 year-olds can be made to accept at least readings of numerals, but this takes some work]

-'Maximize Presupposition'

Percus, Orin, 'Antipresuppostions'. Ms., U. of Nantes [nice presentation of 'maximize presupposition' and some of the problems it raises]

Sauerland, Uli  'A Comprehensive Semantics for Agreement', ms., Berlin [pdf] (you may skip the technical parts on plurals) [application of 'maximize presupposition' to the analysis of pronominal features]

Sauerland, Uli 'The Present Tense is Vacuous', Snippets 6: 2002.

Noyer, Rolf.  Distributed Morphology Web Page [very reader-friendly presentation of a recent theory of a morphological underspecification; numerous references].