The gifted mathematician that you claim to be: Equational intensional 'reconstruction' relatives

Alexander Grosu, Manfred Krifka*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper investigates relative constructions as in The gifted mathematician that you claim to be should be able to solve this equation, in which the head noun (gifted mathematician) is semantically dependent on an intensional operator in the relative clause (claim), even though it is not c-commanded by it. This is the kind of situation that has led, within models of linguistic description that assume a syntactic level of Logical Form, to analyses in which the head noun is interpreted within the CP-internal gap by reconstruction or interpretation of a lower element of a chain. We offer a solution that views surface representation as the input to semantics. The apparent inverted scope effects are traced back to the interpretation of the head nominal gifted mathematician as applying to individual concepts, and of the relative clause that you claim to be as including an equational statement. According to this view, the complex DP in question refers to the individual concept that exists just in the worlds that are compatible with what is generally supposed to be the case, is a gifted mathematician in those worlds, and is identical to you in those worlds. Our solution is related to the nonreconstructionist analysis of binding of pronouns that do not stand in a c-command relationship to their binder, as in The woman that every man hugged was his mother in Jacobson (in: Harvey, Santelmann (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory IV:161-178, 1994) and Sharvit (in: Galloway, Spence (eds.) Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory VI:227-244, 1996), and allows us to capture both similarities with and differences from the latter type of construction. We point out and offer explanations for a number of properties of such relative clauses-in particular their need for an internal intensional operator, their incompatibility with any determiner other than the definite article, and the fact that some of their properties are shared by demonstrably distinct kinds of relative clauses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-485
Number of pages41
JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2007


  • Definiteness
  • Head-raising analysis of relative clauses
  • Individual concepts
  • Relative clauses
  • Syntax/semantics interface


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