Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

Open Linguistics

Editor-in-Chief: Ehrhart, Sabine

Covered by:
Elsevier - SCOPUS
Clarivate Analytics - Emerging Sources Citation Index

CiteScore 2018: 0.70

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.288
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.544

Open Access
See all formats and pricing
More options …

Verbal Symbols and Demonstrations Across Modalities

Gillian Ramchand
Published Online: 2019-05-22 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0006


In this paper, I develop a new theory of the ingredients of semantic composition for the verb phrase, building on work in Ramchand (2018). I argue that the essential properties of this new approach make possible a new rapprochement between the theoretical analyses of symbolic verbal meaning across the visual and auditory modalities. The innovation of the new theory is that it partitions the verb phrase into a lower purely symbolic zone and a higher instantiational situation zone, mediated by the demonstrative act (cf. Davidson 2015, Henderson 2016). In the first part of the paper, I lay out the system, and then I show how it can be used to give a formal analysis of gestural and iconic elements in language. Along the way, I discuss the different ways in which iconicity in the two modalities plays out.

Keywords: iconicity; demonstration; co-speech gesture; quotation; event kinds


  • Jon Barwise and John Perry. Situations and attitudes. MIT press, Cambridge, Ma., 1983.Google Scholar

  • Elena Benedicto and Diane K. Brentari. Where did all the arguments go? argument-changing properties of classifiers in asl. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory, 22:743–810, 2004.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Gregory Norman Carlson. Reference to Kinds in English. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1977.Google Scholar

  • Lucas Champollion. The interaction of compositional semantics and event semantics. Linguistics and Philosophy, 38:31–66, 2015.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Gennaro Chierchia. Reference to kinds across languages. Natural Language Semantics, 6:339–405, 1998.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Noam Chomsky. Language and nature. Mind, 104(413):1–61, 1995.Google Scholar

  • Guglielmo Cinque. Adverbs and Functional Heads: A Cross-Linguistic Perspective. Oxford University Press, New York, 1999.Google Scholar

  • Kathryn Davidson. Quotation, demonstration and iconicity. Linguistics and Philosophy, 38:477–520, 2015.Web of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Mark Dingemanse, Damian E. Blasi, Gary Lupyan, Morten H. Christiansen, and Padraig Monaghan. Arbitrariness, iconicity and systematicity in language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(1):603–615, 2015.Web of ScienceCrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kit Fine. Modality and Tense: Philosophical Papers. Oxford University Press, 2005.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Kit Fine. Truthmaker semantics for intuitionist logic. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 43(2):549–577, 2014.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Berit Gehrke. Still puzzled by adjectival passives. In Cristina Sevdali Raffaella Folli and Robert Truswell, editors, Syntax and its Limits, pages 175–191. Oxford University Press, 2013.Google Scholar

  • Berit Gehrke. Adjectival participles, event kind modification: the case of frequency adjectives. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 33:897–938, 2015.Google Scholar

  • Berit Gehrke and Louise McNally. Distributional modification: the case of frequency adjectives. Language, 91(4):837–868, 2015.Google Scholar

  • Susan Goldin-Meadow and Diane K. Brentari. Gesture, sign and language: The coming of age of sign language and gesture studies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, (doi:10.1017/S0140525X15001247,):1–60, 2017.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Scott Grimm and Louise McNally. The ing dynasty: Rebuilding the semantics of nominalizations. In Mary Moroney Sarah D’Antonio and Carol Rose Little, editors, Proceeding of SALT XXV, pages 82–102, 2015.Google Scholar

  • Jane Grimshaw. Argument Structure. Linguistic Inquiry Monographs; 18. MIT Press, Cambridge, 1990.Google Scholar

  • Jane Grimshaw. Extended projections, 1991.Google Scholar

  • Robert Henderson. Pluractional demonstrations. paper presented at SALT 26, 2015.Google Scholar

  • Wolfram Hinzen. On the grammar of referential dependence. Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric, 46(1):11–33, 2016.Google Scholar

  • Wolfram Hinzen and Michelle Sheehan. The Philosophy of Universal Grammar. Oxford University Press, 2015.Google Scholar

  • Marit Julien. Syntactic Heads and Word Formation: A Study of Verbal Inflection. PhD thesis, University of Tromsø, 2000.Google Scholar

  • David Kaplan. Demonstratives. an essay on the semantics, logic, metaphysics, and epistemology of demonstratives and other indexicals (ms. 1977, reprinted). In J. Perry J. Almog and H. Wettstein, editors, Themes from Kaplan, pages 481–563. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1989.Google Scholar

  • Angelika Kratzer. Situations in natural language semantics. In Edward N. Zalta, editor, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, volume 2014 Edition. 2014.Google Scholar

  • David K. Lewis. On the plurality of worlds. Blackwell, Oxford, 1986.Google Scholar

  • David Marr. Vision. A Computational Investigation into the Human Representation and Processing of Visual Information. W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 1982.Google Scholar

  • Christopher Potts. The dimensions of quotation. In Chris Barker and Pauline Jacobson, editors, Direct Compositionality, pages 405–431. Oxford University Press, 2007.Google Scholar

  • Gillian Ramchand. Verb Meaning and the Lexicon. Cambridge University Press, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Gillian Ramchand. Situations and Syntactic Structures: Rethinking Auxiliaries and Order in English. Linguistic Inquiry Monograph 77. MIT Press, 2018.Google Scholar

  • Gillian Ramchand. Events and verbal decomposition. In Rob Truswell, editor, The Oxford Handbook of Events. Oxford University Press, 2019.Google Scholar

  • Gillian Ramchand and Peter Svenonius. Deriving the functional hierarchy. Journal of Language Sciences, 2014. Language Sciences, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.langsci.2014.06.013.Crossref

  • Philippe Schlenker. Visible meaning: Sign language and the foundations of semantics. Theoretical Linguistics, 44(3/4):123–208, 2018.CrossrefWeb of ScienceGoogle Scholar

  • Ronnie Wilbur. Complex predicates involving events, time and aspect: Is this whysign languages look so similar? In Josep Quer, editor, Signs of the Time., pages 217–250. Signum, Hamburg, 2008.Google Scholar

  • Roberto Zamparelli. Layers in the Determiner Phrase. Garland, New York, 2000.Google Scholar

About the article

Received: 2018-08-17

Accepted: 2019-03-01

Published Online: 2019-05-22

Published in Print: 2019-01-01

Citation Information: Open Linguistics, Volume 5, Issue 1, Pages 94–108, ISSN (Online) 2300-9969, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opli-2019-0006.

Export Citation

© 2019 Gillian Ramchand, published by Sciendo. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License. BY 4.0

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in