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Hans Kamp est invité par l’assemblée du Collège de France sur proposition du Pr François Recanati.

Conférences en anglais.

Bazari arari

© Scott Taylor

Much that we want to say to others, or express for the clarification of our own minds, is better said in several sentences than in a single one. There is too much we want to say that can be comfortably expressed in a single sentence; such a sentence would be far too long to be readily understood and often also too long even for us to produce without losing track of its grammar. Our languages are well-equipped for such multi-sentence communications of complex thoughts, with rules for how what is contributed by the next sentence must be integrated into the content obtained from the preceding sentences. Here is one illustration:

(1) Fred has bought his daughter a donkey. She doesn’t like it much.

The two sentences of (1) are related in more ways than one. Among these are the connections established by the pronouns she and it with their antecedents his daughter and a donkey. Because of these connections, the two sentences together express the single proposition that there is a donkey that Fred has bought for his daughter and that his daughter doesn’t much like. One important task for the linguist is to understand how sentence-connecting devices like pronouns work. The framework of DRT (“Discourse Representation Theory”, Kamp (1981,a,b)) was set up to study such devices.