Semantic monsters

In Heimir Geirsson & Stephen Biggs (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Linguistic Reference. Routledge. pp. 515-532 (2021)
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This chapter provides a general overview of the issues surrounding so-called semantic monsters. In section 1, I outline the basics of Kaplan’s framework and spell out how and why the topic of “monsters” arises within that framework. In Section 2, I distinguish four notions of a monster that are discussed in the literature, and show why, although they can pull apart in different frameworks or with different assumptions, they all coincide within Kaplan’s framework. In Section 3, I discuss one notion that has spun off into the linguistics literature, namely “indexical shift”. In Section 4, I emphasize the connection between monsters and the compositionality of asserted content in Kaplan’s original discussion. Section 5 discusses monsters and the more general idea of re-interpretation or meaning-shift. Section 6 closes with a brief survey of where monsters may dwell, and pointers to avenues for future research.

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Brian Rabern
University of Edinburgh


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