CRISSP welcomes Stephanie Solt for a seminar on November 4, 2013. The title and the abstract are now available.
Title: The ruler model of granularity
It is well known that round numbers allow or even favor approximate interpretations: (1) might be used felicitously if a couple more or fewer than 100 attended, and (1b) to describe a rope slightly longer or shorter than exactly 50m.
(1) There were one hundred people at the rally.
(2) The rope is fifty meters long.
Imprecision can also be signaled overtly via modifiers such as roughly and approximately.
One approach to the semantic analysis of imprecision is based on the notion that measurement results can be reported with respect to scales differ in their level of granularity, conceptualized as density of scale points (Krifka 2007): approximate interpretations are based on coarser-grained scales, while precise interpretations involve finer-grained scales. Yet there is to date no fully comprehensive theory of scale granularity, nor has granularity been incorporated into a more general model of scale structure.
In this talk, I examine some new data relating to the (im)precise use of measure expressions, focusing in particular on phenomena relating to scalar endpoints and to comparatives. On this basis, I propose a novel model of granularity, based on the metaphor of the ruler, where distinct precision levels are captured via markings of varying degrees of prominence. I discuss some advantages of this theory over previous granularity-based accounts, as well as other treatments of imprecision, such as Lasersohn’s (1999) pragmatic halos.