Advanced mereology for linguists

LoLa Advancedweek 1 each day

Lucas Champollion (New York University)


Abstract: This course develops a unified theory of cross-categorial similarities involving the count-mass, singular-plural, telic-atelic, and collective-distributive opposition, based on the notion of stratified reference. Day 1 recaps basic topics like mereology, the singular-plural distinction, the count-mass distinction, higher-order properties, extensive and intensive measure functions, the telic-atelic opposition, and aspectual composition. Day 2 introduces stratified reference and is devoted to issues in the domain of measurement, such as the difference between 'thirty liters of water' and '*thirty degrees Celsius of water'. Day 3 is about differences within the class of collective predicates, as exemplified by the contrast between 'all the students gathered' and '*all the students were numerous'. Day 4 reformulates distributivity operators, extends them to the temporal domain, and explains why indefinites in the syntactic scope of 'for'-adverbials tend not to covary. Day 5 is devoted to the crosslinguistic semantic differences between distance-distributive items such as English 'each' and German 'jeweils' and to the interaction of distributive determiners like 'every' with cumulative readings. The course contents are drawn from Champollion 2017 (Parts of a Whole, Oxford UP). Basic familiarity with formal semantics and mereology, as presented in my previous introductory ESSLLI and LSA course "Linguistic applications of mereology", or in the review article Champollion & Krifka 2016 (Mereology) (preprint here) will be helpful.