In search of expressive power: Evgeny Borisov on the semantics of comparative predicates

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Transliteration of original Title: 
V poiskakh vyrazitel'nykh sredstv: E. V. Borisov o semantike predikatov sravneniya
Daniel Tiskin
Saint Petersburg State University
Issue number: 
No.4 (Vol.50)

The comment is focused on two aspects of the commented paper, viz. the choice of the appropriate auxiliary formalism for the analysis of Russell’s joke about the yacht, and the more general issue of what sort of arguments are acceptable in the logical investigation of natural language semantics. As for technical issues, we suggest that an extensional language should be used which contains variables over possible worlds and over degrees and show how Russell’s joke could be accounted for in such a formalism; in addition, some remarks concerning Borisov’s technical work are provided. At the methodological side, we argue against purely intuitive considerations regarding the presence or absence of this or that component in the semantics of a given lexical item. Real evidence as to which sentences containing that word are acceptable and what they mean should be used instead.

extensional languages, objectual attitudes, de re, semantics of comparison, evidence in formal semantics

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