Project FFI2012-34170: At the intersection of modification and scalarity: the semantic mapping of scale structure onto the interpretation of modifiers [MOSCA]

January 2013-December 2015

Principal Investigator: Elena Castroviejo
Researchers: Berit Gehrke (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Fabienne Martin (Universität Stuttgart) and Galit Sassoon (LLCC / The Hebrew University, Jerusalem).

The topic of this project falls under the greater enterprise of understanding how lexical semantics and syntactic structure engage in determining the meaning of complex structures. MOSCA's object of study is modification, and its overall goal is to provide the truth- and felicity conditions of a series of modification constructions that are affected by scalarity in several ways. We will concentrate on how scalarity plays a role in the interpretation of gradable adjectives, intensifiers, adverbs that are sensitive to the scale structure of verbs, nominals with cumulative reference, or gradable constructions without apparent modification, such as exclamatives. With the aid of the formal apparatus of static and dynamic semantics we will undergo research that will consider cross-linguistic data from Romance, Germanic, Slavic and Semitic retrieved via introspection, corpora and experimental methods. We hope that this project will shed light not only on the compositional semantics of various modifiers and modifiees, but also on the properties of different kinds of scales as well as on the current debate regarding the at-issue content vs. projective content distinction. Success in achieving the goals of this project will yield both a better understanding of natural language and a refinement of the tests and tools that constitute our current methodology for the study of semantics and pragmatics.