Centered Worlds and Subjective Experience in Natural Language Semantics

Tamina Stephenson

15 Oct 2010, 2:00pm-4.00pm, Manchester 227

This talk will discuss a number of phenomena in natural language semantics where it is useful to replace the traditional role of possible worlds with centered possible worlds (world-individual pairs). I will try to show that enough such areas exist that it is worth making this move uniformly throughout our semantic theory.

Specific linguistic phenomena to be touched on (time permitting) include “control” constructions such as x wants to V, shifting indexical pronouns such as Amharic ‘I,’ “logophoric” pronouns in certain languages, epistemic modals such as might and must, taste predicates such as tasty and fun, and certain uses of the attitude predicates imagine and remember.

In the process, my hope is to show people from neighboring fields why this technical choice between worlds and centered worlds is interesting within the context of natural language semantics, and also to gather input on what ways or to what extent the interest may go beyond this theory-internal question.