This paper discusses exceptional behavior of definite process nominals with full argument structure, as opposed to other nominals, in terms of their presuppositions. The author observes that in a sentence like John would protest the destruction of the city, the expected referent of a noun phrase like the destruction of the city need not be presupposed to exist, i.e., the city need not have been destroyed. This contrasts with a sentence like John would protest the war, where either there must be a war in the actual world, or a relevant hypothetical war must be under discussion. The author proposes an analysis of this and related phenomenon in terms of coercion into propositions; a process nominal can be coerced into a proposition which existentially closes the description within the noun phrase, while other noun phrases cannot be coerced in this way.
Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon
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