Reference to subkinds

This is my PhD research, supervised by Fred Landman.

The subkind reading of nouns

I have a comprehensive review of the subkind reading of nouns, also known as the taxonomic reading. I address the scope of the instance-subkind ambiguity, the relation between the readings, grammatical features, denotation and place in analyses.

The availability of the subkind reading in English

I account for why the subkind reading is available to certain count nouns (e.g. weapon) but not their uncountable counterparts (e.g. weaponry).

  • Schoenfeld, Aviv. 15/1/2020. The subkind reading of nouns and hierarchical structure of kinds. Semantics group. Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf. Invited by Prof. Hana Filip and Dr. Peter R. Sutton. [presentation]

The availability of the subkind reading across languages (with Kurt Erbach)

I predict that in languages where singular count nouns have cumulative reference (e.g. Hungarian), minimal pairs of count and object mass nouns should not differ in the availability of the subkind reading. I am checking this in joint research with Kurt Erbach.

Inclusion in the subkind relation

I account for cases where the subkind relation holds even though the superordinate kind does not include the subkind, e.g. oaks are a kind of tree despite some oaks being bushes, and dogs are a kind of pet despite some dogs being strays.

The existential-kind ambiguity and subkind denoting nominals

I account for ambiguous sentences where a subkind-denoting nominal refers either to subkinds or instances thereof, e.g. this kind of metal below.

  • This kind of metal was discovered in Cornwall.
    • ‘Traces of this kind of metal were discovered in Cornwall.’
    • ‘A (scientific) discovery of this kind of metal occurred in Cornwall.’

Object mass nouns

Object mass nouns and subkind countability (with Kurt Erbach)

Object mass nouns in certain languages can count subkinds. The implications are being explored in joint research with Kurt Erbach.

Bare noun phrases

The existential-kind ambiguity

I account for ambiguous sentences where a bare noun phrase refers either to a kind or an instance thereof, e.g. orcs below.

  • Orcs were named by Tolkien.
    • ‘Tolkien named a number of orc specimens.’
    • ‘Tolkien gave the orc creature the name orc.’


Possessive relations and maximality

I am researching possessive nominals that must denote the maximal entity that fits their descriptive content. I argue that this is affected by the sort of possessive relation.