Remembering Paolo Casalegno: Contexts, Quantification and Generic Sentences.
A. Bonomi, Indices and contexts of discourse.
Semantical remarks on the progressive readings of the imperfective (presented at the CONFERENCE ON SYNTAX AND SEMANTICS OF TENSE AND MOOD SELECTION, Bergamo, 2-4 July, 1998)
Finding one’s way in the labyrinth of forking paths (The Semantics of the future tense: Part I.)
Evaluating future-tensed sentences in changing contexts (with F. Del Prete, 2008)
Imperfect Propositions (email me for the last version of the paper, December 2012)
Abstract. The aim of this paper is to provide a unified semantic analysis for three important readings of the Italian Imperfetto (and Presente): the PROGressive, the HABitual, and the FUTurate reading. To highlight the role of the utterance context in setting the relevant parameters of interpretation, explicit temporal adverbials are left out of the scene and prominence is given to the situations where the context provides the temporal information required to discriminate between alternative readings, by exploiting a single logical form.
The paper is organized as follows. After a short presentation of the data, I discuss some intuitive features of imperfectivity by focusing on the fact that the conclusion of an event or series of events is left open. This indeterminacy with respect to the future of a given moment is formalized by resorting to a branching time model. So, a unitary treatment is proposed for the three main readings of tenses such as Presente and Imperfetto and for an intriguing side effect that, in some particular circumstances, makes a "perfective" reading possible.
Since contexts have a key role in this reconstruction of imperfectivity, the final sections of the paper are devoted to the consideration of the temporal parameters to which the evaluation of an utterance is relativized. In order to account, in particular, for the FUT reading, an utterance context is represented an evolving structure, where different backgrounds of information can be associated to different moments in a non-monotonic way.
Non-persistent truths (email me for the last version of the paper, December 2012)
Abstract. I start from Evans' criticism of temporalism, based on the claim that it does not 'provide for the stable evaluation of utterances'. So, I try to show that, with suitable qualifications, assuming the possibility of evaluations yielding different truth values at different times is not an "eccentric" move (as suggested by Evans).
I briefly consider Prior's metaphysical arguments in favour of the asymmetry between past and future and I suggest that, independently of these arguments, there are linguistic reasons in support of such an assumption. In particular, there are some future oriented statements which (unlike past oriented statements) are conceived of by speakers as intrinsically revisable and which require a non-monotonic characterization of the changing backgrounds of information selected by the time flow. As shown by some peculiar uses of phase adverbs like 'still' and 'no longer', variability in terms of truth-value assignation is a distinctive feature of this kind of statement.But another kind of variability of truth value assignation is detectable in the case of present or past oriented statements: in general, by refining the notion of context, it is possible to individuate different types of propositional contents, depending on which contextual parameters are abstracted over in order to account for different needs in communicative exchanges. Thus, in the final section of the paper, a more articulated notion of context allows for a richer (preliminary) description of the propositional contents that can be associated to utterances by abstracting over the relevant parameters.