Ten Men and Women Got Married Today: Noun Coordination and the Intersective Theory of Conjunction

Journal of Semantics 33 (3):561–622 (2016)
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The word 'and' can be used both intersectively, as in 'John lies and cheats', and collectively, as in 'John and Mary met'. Research has tried to determine which one of these two meanings is basic. Focusing on coordination of nouns ('liar and cheat'), this article argues that the basic meaning of 'and' is intersective. This theory has been successfully applied to coordination of other kinds of constituents (Partee & Rooth 1983; Winter 2001). Certain cases of noun coordination ('men and women') challenge this view, and have therefore been argued to favor the collective theory (Heycock & Zamparelli 2005). The main result of this article is that the intersective theory actually predicts the collective behavior of 'and' in 'men and women'. 'And' leads to collectivity by interacting with silent operators involving set minimization and choice functions, which have been postulated to account for phenomena involving indefinites, collective predicates and coordinations of noun phrases (Winter 2001). This article also shows that the collective theory does not generalize to coordinations of noun phrases in the way it has been previously suggested.
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