Crossover and accessibility in dynamic semantics

Patrick D. Elliott

Abstract. Chierchia (2020) develops a theory of Weak Crossover effects couched in terms of dynamic semantics, the central idea being that discourse referents are only introduced in thematic positions. Intrasentential anaphora proceeds via standard dynamic mechanisms, thus grounding WCO in an independently motivated notion of accessibility. While conceptually appealing, I show that Chierchia's account is hamstrung by a central design feature of first-generation dynamic theories - the external staticity of negation and related operators. This gives rise to the (I argue, erroneous) prediction that any expression that can outscope negation for the purposes of intersentential anaphora can obviate Weak Crossover. To address this issue, I suggest that we need a dynamic semantics in which operators such as negation selectively destroy indeterminate discourse referents, but leave determinate discourse referents unscathed. I develop a version of monadic dynamic semantics (Charlow 2014, 2019) which accomplishes just this, by tweaking the semantics of indefinites. Perhaps surprisingly, the resulting system is in some respects simpler than first-generation dynamic theories - negation will end up being classical. As an added bonus, the resulting system validates double-negation elimination - a recalcitrant problem for first-generation theories.

Keywords: weak crossover, dynamic semantics, negation, anaphora, binding, semantics

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