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Title: In Defense of Implicit Times
Author: Rey Sampedro, David Alejandro
Director/Tutor: Kölbel, Max
Macià, Josep
Keywords: Semàntica (Filosofia)
Semantics (Philosophy)
Issue Date: 20-Dec-2016
Publisher: Universitat de Barcelona
Abstract: [eng] The present dissertation explores the hypothesis that English is a language with time-shifting grammatical devices. According to this hypothesis, the linguistic objects of English grammar which serve as the inputs to semantic interpretation have time-sensitive extensions and some of these objects play their roles in the process of interpretation by shifting the times relative to which other objects are interpreted. In a nutshell, English has intensional devices that manipulate times. The view that English tenses and temporal adverbs like now and then have time-shifting meanings was endorsed by some of the founders of modern formal semantics during the seventies and early eighties. These theorists studied certain fragments of English and proposed formalizations for them using regimented languages equipped with temporal operators. Subsequent research shed doubt on the operator-based approach of the early formal semanticists. Their intensional accounts of English temporal discourse were abandoned in favor of referential, quantificational, and dynamic theories. As a result, the hypothesis that English is a time-shifting language (in the sense suggested above) is no longer viewed as a tenable option in mainstream formal semantics. This dissertation examines the main lines of argument that have motivated this theoretical move away from the project of intensional semantics. I argue that the prospects for developing a plausible intensional account of English temporal discourse are not as gloomy as it has been assumed in the literature. I examine four influential lines of argument for the view that English lacks temporal operators. The advocates of this view have argued that operator-based formalizations of English sentences are inadequate for the purposes of natural language semantics because they (i) have expressive limitations that can only be overcome by positing more and more temporal indices in the intensional system, (ii) are ad hoc and inelegant, (iii) fail to explain the pronominal uses of tenses, and (iv) fail to account for the behavior of embedded tenses. Although it is true that the lines of argument (i)-(iv) reveal the explanatory problems of traditional operator-based theories, I suggest that a sophisticated intensional account of English tenses can overcome those problems. If this suggestion is on the right track, the case against the hypothesis that English is a time-shifting language is far less compelling than it appears at first glance.
Appears in Collections:Tesis Doctorals - Departament - Lògica, Història i Filosofia de la Ciència

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