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Un tal Ernestico/a certain Ernestico: On the structure of proper names

Author:

José Camacho

Rutgers University, 15 Seminary Place, New Brunswick, NJ, GB
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Abstract

Proper names are usually assumed to be definite. In this paper we question this assumption by analyzing the Spanish construction un tal ‘X’ ‘a certain ‘X’’. We show that ‘un tal ‘X’’ has two meanings, one evidential and one evaluative, and with the evidential meaning the determiner must be indefinite. In those conditions, ‘X’ is always a proper name. We argue that proper names usually involve a presuppositional, familiar referent, expressed through the definite determiner. However, evidentiality conflicts with familiarity, hence the definite is no longer possible. Finally, we argue that proper names are licensed by features from a hierarchy that applies either to the referential base, yielding person licensing, or to an evidential base, producing sequences such as un tal ‘X’.

How to Cite: Camacho, J. (2019). Un tal Ernestico/a certain Ernestico: On the structure of proper names. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4(1), 44. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.774
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  Published on 11 Apr 2019
 Accepted on 12 Feb 2019            Submitted on 11 Aug 2018

1 Background

Proper names (PNs) raise important questions from syntactic and semantic/philosophical perspectives. Semantically, the meaning of PNs has been argued to refer directly to individuals (cf. Kripke 1980, among many others). For other researchers, PNs are associated with a naming predicate (cf. Burge 1973; Geurts 1997a; b; Matushansky 2008; Fara 2015 among others; see summaries in Gray 2012; Jeshion 2015). PNs also raise issues regarding their syntactic structure and distribution, plausibly related to their semantic interpretation. Is their structure comparable to that of common-noun DPs? Whenever they appear with a determiner, what is their status, and how are they interpreted (cf. Longobardi 1994; 2005; 2008, among others)? On the one hand, Longobardi suggests that DPs in general, including PNs, require a determiner position to be arguments, and this requirement forces the N to move to D, or an overt, expletive determiner to be inserted in D. On the other hand, Borer (2005), Matushansky (2008) and Ghomeshi & Massam (2009) mark the PN determiner as definite, and make this follow from the uniqueness meaning of PNs.

This paper aims to contribute to these debates by analyzing the sequence un tal ‘X’, ‘a so-called ‘X’’ in Spanish. In this sequence, X is typically a PN but the determiner tends to be indefinite, contrary to what the usual analyses of PN determiners would predict. Tal, in turn, contributes an evidential meaning. I will suggest that both properties are related: whenever tal has evidential content, it appears with a PN because PNs involve a naming function ‘the ‘X’ called ‘Y’’, along the lines of Burge (1973). Thus, un tal ‘X’ roughly means ‘the person allegedly called ‘X’’. The fact that the determiner cannot be definite also follows from evidentiality: familiarity, one of the defining properties of definiteness, clashes with evidential content, and this clash results in having an indefinite determiner. The paper is organized as follows: in the rest of the introduction, I review the two traditional semantic analyses of PNs (section 1.1) and syntactic views on PNs (section 1.2). Section 2 presents the general distribution of un tal ‘X’ (section 2.1), its evidential/evaluative content (section 2.2) and the interaction between evidentiality and definiteness (section 2.3). Section 3 introduces the analysis; in section 3.1, I present the assumptions regarding definiteness; in section 3.2, the proposal regarding evidentiality and the naming function for PNs; in section 3.3, I derive the incompatibility between tal and the definite article; in section 3.4, I address the issue of what feature licenses a PN, looking at the connection between person-licensing of PNs and evidentiality-licensing of PNs, based on Speas’ (2004) proposal. Section 4 presents the conclusions of the article.

1.1 Two semantic views of PNs

At first sight, PNs seem to refer to objects: the name Susan simply points to a referent and does not provide a description of that referent (cf. Mill 1843/1973; Kaplan 1989; Jeshion 2015; Saab & Lo Guercio 2018, among others). This reference remains constant across possible worlds, and for this reason, PNs are singular, rigid designators that do not interact with quantified items (cf. Kripke 1980: 1971). In this sense, they contrast with common nouns (CNs). However, PNs in examples like (1)a–b, from Burge (1973), and (2), quoted by Matushansky (2008: 598), do not seem to be rigid designators: they appear with overt quantifiers and look more like common nouns (CNs).

(1) a. There are relatively few Alfreds in Princeton.
  b. Some Alfreds are crazy; some are sane.

(2) E. Brontë, Wuthering Heights:
  …but no Catherine could I detect, far or near.

For this reason, other researchers have suggested that PNs are predicates involving naming: Ernestico means ‘the ‘X’ named ‘Ernestico’’ (cf. Kneale 1962; Burge 1973; Geurts 1997a; b; Matushansky 2008; Gray 2012, among others). In Burge’s (1973: 428) words: “a proper name is a predicate true of an object if and only if the object is given that name in an appropriate way.” Although these approaches share the notion of a naming predicate, they differ in important ways, such as whether PNs are rigid designators or not.1

Proponents of the referential analysis of PNs note that PNs can be used in contexts where the predicative analysis is not so straightforward (cf. Jeshion 2015). Andrés Saab (p.c.) notes examples such as (3), from Saab & Lo Guercio (2018).

    1. (3)
    1. a.
    1. Vi
    2. saw
    1. un
    2. a
    1. Rembrandt
    2. Rembrandt
    1. en
    2. in
    1. el
    2. the
    1. museo.
    2. museum
    1. ‘I saw a Rembrandt in the museum.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Los
    2. the
    1. Messi
    2. Messi
    1. son
    2. are
    1. muy
    2. very
    1. unidos.
    2. united
    1. ‘The Messi (family) are very united.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Me
    2. CL
    1. compré
    2. bought
    1. una
    2. a
    1. Fender.
    2. Fender
    1. ‘I bought a Fender.’

These examples involve deferred interpretations (Jeshion 2015), in the sense that the literal referent of the PN (the painter Rembrandt in (3)a) is connected to the object by some meaning extension (‘the painting by Rembrandt’). Crucially, however, these examples do not involve a direct naming function, so that (3)a in the deferred interpretation does not mean ‘I saw the object named Rembrandt in the museum’. We will return to these examples below.

1.2 Syntactic views on PNs

PNs also raise important syntactic questions. First, they tend to be bare singulars in languages that do not generally allow bare singulars, as illustrated in (4)a vs. (4)b–c. Whereas Ana can be bare in the first example, hermana ‘sister’ cannot appear without a determiner in the second one.

    1. (4)
    1. a.
    1.   Ana
    2.   Ana
    1. llegó.
    2. arrived
    1.    ‘Ana arrived.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Hermana
    2.   sister
    1. llegó.
    2. arrived
    1.  
    1. c.
    1.   La/nuestra
    2.   the/our
    1. hermana
    2. sister
    1. llegó.
    2. arrived
    1.    ‘Our sister arrived.’

Longobardi (1994) has suggested that this is an illusory contrast: both (4)a and (4)c involve a DP, but (4)a has obligatory N-to-D raising, whereas (4)c has an overt determiner. N-to-D raising results from an independent requirement that arguments be DPs headed by an overtly realized D head. This head may be overt or it may be realized as the raised PN. Longobardi mentions languages with overt PN determiners as evidence for his analysis. For example, in Greek and in Chilean Spanish, the definite determiner appears with PNs, as seen in (5). In this case, the determiner is expletive, in the sense that it is only required to fill the D position, but it does not contribute additional meaning.

    1. (5)
    1. Greek (Ghomeshi & Massam 2009)
    1. Aftos
    2. this
    1. ine
    2. is
    1. o
    2. the
    1. Vasilis.
    2. Basil
    1. ‘This is Basil.’

The notion that D is an expletive would explain languages where it is optionally present, or restricted to a certain gender. For example, in Castilian Spanish, el ‘the.MAS’ tends to be optional, but la ‘the.FEM’ tends to be more frequently overt, as seen in (6). In addition to Castilian Spanish, oral registers of Latin American Spanish, as well as the regional Italian spoken in Trentino (Jan Casalicchio, p.c.) and several other Gallo-Romance varieties have this pattern, as noted by an anonymous reviewer.

    1. (6)
    1. Restricted/optional overt PN determiner. Castilian Spanish
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. (El)
    2. the.MAS
    1. Julio
    2. Julio
    1. vino
    2. came
    1. ayer.
    2. yesterday
    1. ‘Julio came yesterday.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. La
    2. the.FEM
    1. Julia
    2. Julia
    1. comió
    2. ate
    1. aquí.
    2. here
    1. ‘Julia ate here.’

A third set of languages have specialized determiners for PNs as seen in (7)–(8). In (7), the genitive marker is different for buhay ‘life’ (genitive: ng) than for Maria (specialized genitive ni) in Tagalog.

    1. (7)
    1. Specialized overt PN determiner. Tagalog (Himmelmann 2008)
    1. Tingn-an
    2. look-LOC.VOICE
    1. mo
    2. 2.SG.POSS
    1. ang
    2. SPEC
    1. gandá
    2. beauty
    1. na
    2. now
    1. ng
    2. GEN
    1. buhay
    2. life
    1. ni
    2. GEN.PN
    1. Maria.
    2. Mary
    1. ‘Look how beautiful Maria’s life is now (lit. look at the beauty of Maria’s life now).’

In Balearic Catalan, the PN determiner is en/na ‘D.MAS/D.FEM’ as illustrated in (8)a–b, from Bernstein, Ordóñez & Roca (2016). The CN definite determiner in this variety is es/sa.

    1. (8)
    1. Balearic Catalan
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. en
    2. D.MAS
    1. Joan,
    2. Joan,
    1. n’Andreu
    2. D.MAS Andreu
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. na
    2. D.FEM
    1. Maria,
    2. Maria
    1. n’Anna
    2. D.FEM Anna

Languages that have a determiner with PNs tend to use the definite one if they do not use a specialized one (cf. Chierchia 1998: 397; Matushansky 2008: 593). Chierchia specifically states: “if a language assigns a proper name to the semantic category pred, its only option for turning the proper name into an argument will be to project the category D. Furthermore, the only choice of determiner is the.” This generalization is stated in (9) and illustrated with the Spanish examples in (10) and the Greek examples in (11). The alternative to drafting the definite determiner for PNs is to have a specialized PN determiner, as we above saw for Catalan and Tagalog.

(9) If a PN determiner is one of the regular determiners in the language, it tends to be the definite one.

    1. (10)
    1. Chilean and other Spanish varieties
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. l-a
    2. the-FEM
    1. Marta
    2. Marta
    1. ‘Marta’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. l-a
    2. the-FEM
    1. cas-a
    2. house-FEM
    1. ‘the house’
    1. (11)
    1. Greek
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. i
    2. the.FEM
    1. Eleni
    2. Eleni
    1. ‘Eleni’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. i
    2. the.FEM
    1. gynaika
    2. woman
    1. ‘the woman’

To the extent that (9) holds, it is generally related to the meaning of PNs or the meaning of DPs containing PNs. Thus, for Ghomeshi & Massam (2009), DPs with a PN are headed by DDEF, PROPER. Consequently, in Chilean Spanish, the morphological exponents of this determiner would be el or la depending on gender.

Similar explanations for (9) follow from the properties of PNs in Borer’s (2005) and Matushansky’s (2006) analyses, although they rely on very different overall assumptions. For Borer, insertion of a PN determiner follows from a <def-u> feature in D, which is definite (in addition to having a specific kind of content associated with PN interpretation). In Matushansky’s proposal, the type of determiner depends on language-specific morphological spellout rules, but the determiner is specified as DDEF.

The generalization in (9), and the principles that derive it suggest a connection between the nature of PNs and definiteness. On the other hand, Longobardi (1994; 2005; 2008) analyzes PN determiners as expletive, in the sense that they do not seem to contribute any semantic content that is not already present in the PN.2 Thus, the optionally of determiners in varieties such as the one illustrated in (6) above does not seem to correlate with obvious semantic differences. As a result, we seem to have the paradox illustrated in (12).

(12) a. DPN are definite
  b. DPN are expetive

The analyses proposed by Borer, by Ghomeshi & Massam and by Matushansky build definiteness into the PN determiner, explaining why it often overlaps with the regular definite determiner, and account for its apparent optionality through morphological rules, whereas Longobardi removes any content from DPN, and justifies its presence for independent reasons, namely for the requirement that arguments must be DPs.

A third related issue addresses the licensing of PNs and DPs in general. In Longobardi’s (2008) and Bernstein’s (2008) analyses, N raises to D attracted by a [person] feature. Chierchia (1998) and more recently Longobardi (2008) point out that nouns must appear with an overt determiner in Italian, but pronouns void this requirement, as seen in (13). (13)a presents a sentence with a regular D (i, ‘the’), and (13)b shows one with the pronoun noi ‘we’. As (13)c shows, it is not possible to have both at the same time. This leads him to conclude that “the category D minimally consists of the person feature” (Longobardi 2008: 200).

    1. (13)
    1. a.
    1.   I
    2.   the
    1. ricchi
    2. rich
    1. stanno
    2. are.3PL
    1. trascurando
    2. neglecting
    1. certi
    2. certain
    1. problema.
    2. problems
    1.    ‘The rich are neglecting certain problems.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Noi
    2.   we
    1. ricchi
    2. rich
    1. stiamo
    2. are.1PL
    1. trascurando
    2. neglecting
    1. certi
    2. certain
    1. problema.
    2. problems
    1.    ‘We the rich are neglecting certain problems.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *I
    2.   the
    1. ricchi
    2. rich
    1. noi
    2. we
    1. stiamo
    2. are.1PL
    1. trascurando
    2. neglecting
    1. certi
    2. certain
    1. problema
    2. problems

In sum, the three questions in the literature that frame this paper are the following: first, is there a naming function as part of the meaning of PNs? Second, is the definite determiner the result of the PN’s meaning? Third, what feature licenses PNs?

2 A certain determiner

Spanish has a determiner-like phrase un tal that can be translated as ‘a certain/one X’, ‘a so-called X’.3 In this section, I will review its general distribution, as well as its evaluative meaning and definiteness constraints.

2.1 General properties

The determiner-like phrase un tal is specialized for PNs, as illustrated in the following examples (from the Spanish corpus CREA, cf. Real Academia Española):

    1. (14)
    1. a.
    1. Granma Internacional, 26/09/2000, Cuba. CREA, accessed on 11/17/17
    1. Según
    2. according
    1. Yunior,
    2. Yunior,
    1. fue
    2. was
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico,
    2. Ernestico,
    1. de
    2. from
    1. Placetas,
    2. Placetas,
    1. quien
    2. who
    1. le
    2. CL
    1. entregó
    2. gave
    1. el
    2. the
    1. dinero
    2. money
    1. para
    2. to
    1. comprar
    2. buy
    1. el
    2. the
    1. barco.
    2. boat
    1. ‘According to Yunior, it was a certain Ernestico, from Placetas, who gave him the money to buy the boat.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. El Mundo – Su Ordenador (Suplemento), 18/05/1997. CREA, accessed on 11/17/17
    1.  
    1. con
    2. with
    1. mensajes
    2. messages
    1. como
    2. with
    1. ‘Clemente
    2. ‘Clemente
    1. es
    2. is
    1. un
    2. a
    1. eunuco’,
    2. eunuch’,
    1. (de
    2. (of
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. ‘Venganza
    2. ‘Revenge
    1. Polish’)
    2. Polish’).
    1. ‘…with messages such as ‘Clemente is a eunuch’ (from a certain ‘Polish Revenge’).’

Un tal ‘a certain’ has the following properties: 1) it only appears with PNs, 2) the PN is animate/human, 3) un tal ‘X’ is singular, 4) a prenominal adjective is not possible, 5) un tal ‘X’ does not have the properties of an indefinite, 6) it is not interpreted as definite and 7) tal conveys an evidential (‘alleged’) or evaluative, distancing meaning.4

The first property is illustrated in (15), where CNs are ungrammatical:

    1. (15)
    1. *Un
    2.   a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. encuestador/policía/vendedor
    2. pollster/police officer/seller
    1. de
    2. of
    1. seguros
    2. insurance
    1. llamó
    2. called
    1. por
    2. by
    1. teléfono.
    2. phone
    1.    ‘A certain pollster/police officer/insurance salesman phoned.’

A corpus search of CREA for the sequence un tal yielded 934 cases. Of the first 300 consulted, all of the ones with the relevant meaning had a PN except for the one in (16). This example includes a nominalized relative clause in place of the PN, but it is interpreted as if it were a PN, as in the English phrase what’s-his/her-name.

    1. (16)
    1. Speech by Fidel Castro at the closing of the VIII Congress of Cuba. CREA, accessed on 11/17/17
    1. Este
    2. this
    1. anunciaba
    2. announced
    1. una
    2. a
    1. nueva
    2. new
    1. biografía
    2. biography
    1. del
    2. of-the
    1. Papa
    2. Pope
    1. Juan
    2. John
    1. Pablo
    2. Paul
    1. Segundo,
    2. Second
    1. por
    2. by
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. no
    2. not
    1. know.1SG
    1. quién,
    2. who
    1. autor
    2. author
    1. yanqui.
    2. Yankee
    1. ‘This one announced a new biography of Pope Juan Pablo the Second, by a certain what’s-his-name, a Yankee author.’

Un tal cannot appear in the deferred interpretation contexts presented in (3), as seen in (17). The first example can only have the literal PN interpretation ‘an ‘X’ allegedly called ‘Y’’. The other two are ungrammatical because they do not fulfil some of the other properties: (17)b applies to a plural and (17)c applies to an inanimate object.

    1. (17)
    1. a.
    1. #Vi
    2.   saw
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. tal
    1. Rembrandt
    2. Rembrandt
    1. en
    2. in
    1. el
    2. the
    1. museo.
    2. museum
    1.    ‘I saw a certain Rembrandt in the museum.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Unos
    2.   some
    1. tales
    2. certain
    1. Messi
    2. Messi
    1. son
    2. are
    1. muy
    2. very
    1. unidos.
    2. united
    1.    ‘The Messi (family) are very united.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *Me
    2.   CL
    1. compré
    2. bought
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Fender.
    2. Fender
    1.    ‘I bought a cerain Fender.’

We can draw the conclusion from this paradigm that deferred interpretation cases do not involve literal uses of PNs (cf. Fara 2015).

The second property states that only human/animate PNs can appear with un tal, as illustrated in (18): river names, cities and towns do not appear with un tal ‘a certain’, regardless of the syntactic structure of the name of the locality. In (18)b, for example, Tunja is a bare NP, whereas La Unión is a DP with a definite determiner in (18)c, and Aguascalientes is a plural NP in (18)d. By contrast, a PN like Chu-Lín that refers to a famous zoo panda, is acceptable, as seen in (19).

    1. (18)
    1. a.
    1.   *Nos
    2.     CL
    1. encontramos
    2. found
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. río
    2. river
    1. Ulcumayo.
    2. Ulcumayo
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. ??Visitamos
    2.     visited
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Tunja.
    2. Tunja
    1.      ‘We visited a certain Tunja.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. ??Visitamos
    2.     visited
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. La
    2. La
    1. Unión.
    2. Unión
    1.  
    1. d.
    1.   *Visitamos
    2.     visited
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Aguascalientes.
    2. Aguascalientes
    1. (19)
    1. Se
    2. CL
    1. murió
    2. died
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Chu-Lín.
    2. Chu-Lin
    1. ‘A certain Chu-Lin [a panda bear] died.’

All of the grammatical examples presented so far illustrate that un tal appears with a singular PN, the third property. The example in (20)a shows that a plural PN is ungrammatical with unos tales, unlike the counterpart without tal shown in (20)b.

    1. (20)
    1. a.
    1. *Llega-ron
    2.   arrive-3.PAST.PL
    1. un-o-s
    2. a-MAS-PL
    1. tal-es
    2. certain-PL
    1. Luca-s.
    2. Luca-PL
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Llega-ron
    2.   arrive-3.PAST.PL
    1. un-o-s
    2. a-MAS-PL
    1. Luca-s.
    2. Luca-PL
    1.    ‘Some (people named) Lucas arrived.’

The fourth property states that prenominal adjectives are disallowed with un tal ‘X’. For example, simpático ‘charming’ or supuesto ‘alleged’ cannot appear prenominally, as seen in (21). This property is shared with bare PNs, which cannot be preceded by an adjective either, as seen in (22) (cf. Longobardi 1994).

    1. (21)
    1. *Fue
    2.   was
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. simpático/supuesto
    2. charming/alleged
    1. Ernestico.
    2. Ernestico
    1. (22)
    1. *Antigua
    2.   ancient
    1. Roma
    2. Rome
    1. era
    2. was
    1. una
    2. a
    1. ciudad
    2. city
    1. muy
    2. very
    1. hermosa.
    2. beautiful

The last three properties we have just seen strongly suggest that un tal ‘X’ behaves like a regular PN: PNs are singular when they have rigid scope, they are typically animate, with certain exceptions like geographical place names, and they do not allow prenominal adjectives.

Property five states that un tal ‘X’ does not have the typical properties of indefinites. In order to illustrate this, I note that PNs can sometimes be interpreted as CNs, and in such contexts, they interact with quantifiers. For example, Geurts (1997b: 323) points out that in (23), the modal takes scope over Leslie, so that this sentence can be paraphrased as ‘it may be the case that a person named ‘Leslie’ is a man or a woman’. In this particular context, Leslie loses the scope rigidity usually associated with PNs, although as an anonymous reviewer points out, this use may refer to the name Leslie itself, rather than to anyone named Leslie.

(23) In English, Leslie may be a man or a woman.

Un tal ‘X’ does not behave in the same way in similar contexts, even though it has an overtly indefinite determiner. For example, the modal cannot take scope over un tal Adrián in (24), which is not interpreted as a semantic indefinite.

    1. (24)
    1. *Un
    2.   a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Adrián
    2. Adrian
    1. puede
    2. can
    1. ser
    2. be
    1. un
    2. a
    1. nombre
    2. name
    1. inglés,
    2. English,
    1. español
    2. Spanish
    1. o
    2. or
    1. catalán.
    2. Catalan

This sentence is ungrammatical presumably because un tal ‘X’ refers to an actual person named Adrián, and not to any person who may bear that name.

Similarly, note that it is not possible to add u otro ‘or another’, or cualquiera ‘whatsoever’ to un tal ‘X’, as seen in (25)a–(26)a, whereas the counterparts of those examples without tal are possible (cf. (25)b–(26)b). These facts taken together strongly suggest that despite having an overt indefinite determiner, un tal ‘X’ is not interpreted as an indefinite DP.

    1. (25)
    1. a.
    1. *Llegó
    2.   arrived
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. u
    2. or
    1. otro.
    2. another
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Llegó
    2.   arrived
    1. un
    2. a
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. u
    2. or
    1. otro.
    2. another
    1.    ‘Some Ernestico or another arrived.’
    1. (26)
    1. a.
    1. *Un
    2.   a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. cualquiera
    2. whatsoever
    1. va
    2. goes
    1. a
    2. to
    1. arrastrar-te
    2. drag-CL
    1. a
    2. to
    1. la
    2. the
    1. miseria.
    2. misery
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Un
    2.   a
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. cualquiera
    2. whatsoever
    1. va
    2. goes
    1. a
    2. to
    1. arrastrar-te
    2. drag-CL
    1. a
    2. to
    1. la
    2. the
    1. miseria.
    2. misery
    1.    ‘Any Ernestico will cause your misery.’

The sixth property is somewhat surprising as well: despite designating a single, unique individual, un tal ‘X’ can appear in existential constructions (cf. (27)a), unlike bare PNs, seen in (27)b. PNs with just an indefinite article pattern in the same way as un tal ‘X’ (cf. (27)c).

    1. (27)
    1. a.
    1.   Había
    2.   was
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. en
    2. in
    1. la
    2. the
    1. sala.
    2. room
    1.    ‘There was a certain Ernestico in the room.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Había
    2.   was
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. en
    2. in
    1. la
    2. the
    1. sala.
    2. room
    1.  
    1. c.
    1.   Había
    2.   was
    1. un
    2. a
    1. Ernestico
    2. Ernestico
    1. en
    2. in
    1. la
    2. the
    1. sala.
    2. room
    1.    ‘There was an Ernestico in the room.’

Similarly, un tal patterns with bare un in the context of small clauses with a verb of naming, seen in (28) (cf. Matushansky 2008). In those environments, un tal ‘X’ becomes ungrammatical, as seen in (29)a, just like a regular indefinite article (cf. (29)b).5

    1. (28)
    1. Bautizaron
    2. baptized
    1. a
    2. to
    1. la
    2. the
    1. niña
    2. girl
    1. Paula.
    2. Paula
    1. ‘They baptized the girl ‘Paula.’
    1. (29)
    1. a.
    1. *Bautizaron
    2.   baptized
    1. a
    2. to
    1. la
    2. the
    1. niña
    2. girl
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Paula.
    2. Paula
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Bautizaron
    2.   baptized
    1. a
    2. to
    1. la
    2. the
    1. niña
    2. girl
    1. una
    2. a
    1. Paula.
    2. Paula

In sum, un tal ‘X’ shares a similar distribution to bare PNs, in particular it shows no scope interactions (unlike indefinite PNs), but it is not interpreted as a bare PN in existential contexts. In several other contexts, however, it patterns the same way as a bare indefinite un X. In the following section, we describe the semantic contributions of tal.

2.2 Evidentiality and evaluation

In this section, I review the two possible meanings that tal contributes to un tal ‘X’.

2.2.1 Evidentiality

The first meaning is purely evidential, illustrated by the examples in (14) above, repeated as (30) below. In (30)a, tal indicates that the speaker only has hearsay knowledge about the person’s name, as shown in the translation. By contrast, the sentence loses its evidential meaning in the absent of tal, as seen (30)b). In that case, the PN becomes a regular CN that also loses its unique reference (cf. also Härtl & Seeliger’s 2017 ‘name-forming’ use of so-called).

    1. (30)
    1. a.
    1. Llegó
    2. arrived
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico.
    2. Ernestico
    1. ‘A person allegedly named Ernestico arrived.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Llegó
    2. arrived
    1. un
    2. an
    1. Ernestico.
    2. Ernestico
    1. ‘An Ernestico arrived.’

It is worth noting that the source of evidence for un tal ‘X’ must be hearsay, not inferential. For example, in some families, offspring take their parents’ first name followed by hijo/a ‘son/daughter’ or junior in some varieties of Spanish, so that Eduardo hijo or Eduardo junior is Eduardo’s son. Thus, one could infer someone’s name by knowing the parent’s name. However, in that context, (31) cannot be used to mean that the person must be called ‘Eduardo Jr.’ because he is Eduardo Sr.’s son. In other words, the meaning of tal cannot reflect an inferential source of information.

    1. (31)
    1. #Ese
    2.   that
    1. debe
    2. must
    1. ser
    2. be
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Eduardo
    2. Eduardo
    1. hijo/junior.
    2. son/junior
    1.    ‘That must be a certain Eduardo Jr.’

Researchers have identified several properties of evidentials (cf. Faller 2002; Matthewson, Rullmann & Davis 2007; and in particular Murray 2010, for a summary). For example, Murray (2011) notes that the source of evidence cannot be contradicted. This observation can explain why un tal ‘X’ is not possible in the context illustrated in (32). The fact that the speaker knows Ana very well means that she has direct evidence of her name, but un tal suggests that the source of evidence is hearsay.

    1. (32)
    1.     Context: My best friend Ana walks into the room.
    1. #¡Llegó
    2.     arrived
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ana!
    2. Ana
    1.       ‘A certain Ana arrived!’

Similarly, un tal ‘X’ is incompatible with a quotation, as seen in (33)a. If we assume that a quotation in this context involves first-hand information, then the statement in (33)a would involve contradictory sources of evidence: ‘hearsay’ contributed by tal and ‘direct’ contributed by the quotation. Bare PNs, on the other hand, have no evidential conflict, as seen in (33)b.

    1. (33)
    1. a.
    1. *Un
    2.   a
    1. desconocido
    2. stranger
    1. se
    2. CL
    1. me
    2. CL
    1. acercó
    2. approached
    1. y
    2. and
    1. me
    2. CL
    1. dijo:
    2. told:
    1. ‘me
    2. CL
    1. llamo
    2. called
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Pedro’
    2. Pedro
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Un
    2.   a
    1. desconocido
    2. stranger
    1. se
    2. CL
    1. me
    2. CL
    1. acercó
    2. approached
    1. y
    2. and
    1. me
    2. CL
    1. dijo:
    2. told:
    1. ‘me
    2. CL
    1. llamo
    2. called
    1. Pedro’.
    2. Pedro
    1.    ‘A stranger approached me and said: ‘I’m called Pedro’’.

Evidentials can be either illocutionary operators or epistemic modals (cf. Murray 2010 for a summary and discussion of tests to distinguish them). Illocutionary evidentials do no commit the speaker to the truth of the content of the proposition, although he is committed to the source of evidence. In the case of un tal ‘X’, the content would be the PN itself and, as (34)a shows, the speaker is not committed to that content, so the actual name of the person can be contradicted. By contrast, the person’s name cannot be contradicted when the PN is bare, as seen (34)b.

    1. (34)
    1. a.
    1. Me
    2. CL
    1. presentaron
    2. introduced
    1. a
    2. to
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Luis,
    2. Luis,
    1. pero
    2. but
    1. yo
    2. I
    1. know
    1. que
    2. that
    1. no
    2. not
    1. se
    2. CL
    1. llamaba
    2. called
    1. Luis.
    2. Luis
    1. ‘They introduced me to one Luis, but I know that he wasn’t called Luis.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Me
    2. CL
    1. presentaron
    2. introduced
    1. a
    2. to
    1. Luis,
    2. Luis,
    1. #pero
    2.   but
    1. yo
    2. I
    1. know
    1. que
    2. that
    1. no
    2. not
    1. se
    2. CL
    1. llamaba
    2. called
    1. Luis.
    2. Luis
    1. ‘They introduced me to Luis # but I know that he wasn’t called Luis.’

A third property of evidentials is that they tend not to interact with negation, as shown for un tal ‘X’ in (35). This example cannot mean ‘someone not allegedly called Ernestico bought the business’, presumably because negation cannot take immediate scope over the evidential.

    1. (35)
    1. Según
    2. according
    1. María,
    2. Maria,
    1. no
    2. not
    1. compró
    2. bought
    1. el
    2. the
    1. negocio
    2. business
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico.
    2. Ernestico
    1. ‘According to Maria, a certain Ernestico didn’t buy the business.’

Evidential un tal shares some of these properties with prenominal epistemic adjectives like supuesto ‘alleged’, which do not modify the extension of the noun’s referent. Rather, these adjectives introduce a modal interpretation. In this sense, supuestos ‘alleged’ in (36)a does not commit the speaker to the content of the noun, in fact, this example can be directly denied, as in (36)b. The continuation in (36)b suggests that the speaker is not committed to the content of the proposition, or in this particular case, to whether the perpetrators were promoters or not.

    1. (36)
    1. a.
    1. Los
    2. the
    1. supuestos
    2. alleged
    1. promotores
    2. promoters
    1. estafaron
    2. conned
    1. a
    2. to
    1. mucha
    2. many
    1. gente.
    2. people
    1. ‘The alleged promoters conned many people.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.  
    1. y
    2. and
    1. de
    2. in
    1. hecho
    2. fact
    1. no
    2. not
    1. eran
    2. were
    1. promotores.
    2. promoters
    1. ‘and in fact, they were not promoters.’

Epistemic adjectives are also incompatible with negation, as seen in (37).

    1. (37)
    1. *Los
    2.   the
    1. no
    2. not
    1. supuestos
    2. alleged
    1. promotores
    2. promoters
    1. estafaron
    2. conned
    1. a
    2. to
    1. mucha
    2. many
    1. gente.
    2. people

However, whereas un tal targets the name of the PN, supuesto targets the properties associated with a PN, as seen in (38). In this example, supuesto questions whether the person was the manager of Seguros Monterrey, not whether his name was Carlos González Hernández. We will return to this difference below.6

(38) From CREA, Real Academia Espanola, acessed on 11/15/2018
  Las cuatro ventas antes mencionadas fueron realizadas por un supuesto Lic. Carlos González Hernández, gerente de Supervisión Técnica de Seguros Monterrey en la metrópoli, pero la aseguradora indicó a la PGR que esa persona no trabaja para ella.
  ‘The four previously mentioned sales were done by an impostor bachelor Carlos González Hernández, manager of Technical Supervision of Seguros Monterrey in the capital, but the insurance company indicated to PGR that this person does not work for them.’

These diagnostics confirm that evidential tal has illocutionary force and that it conveys a ‘hearsay’ source of information.7

2.2.2 Evaluation

Aside from evidential meaning, tal can have evaluative content, as illustrated by the statement in (39), a 1995 quote from a Basque politician, Javier Arzallus. In this statement, Arzallus was dismissively referring to the new bishop of the city of Bilbao, whose non-Basque-sounding last name suggested that he was not originally from the Basque Country nor a speaker of Basque. Tal in this context does not convey source of information about the name, but rather the speaker’s negative evaluation of the person as indexed by his name.8

    1. (39)
    1. Nos
    2. CL
    1. han
    2. have
    1. nombrado
    2. named
    1. a
    2. DOM
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. so-called
    1. Blázquez.
    2. Blázquez
    1. ‘They have imposed on us a “so-called” Blázquez.’

Evaluative un tal seems very similar to English so-called, analyzed by Härtl & Seeliger (2017) and illustrated in (40).

(40) The so-called ‘beach’ was a thin strip of black volcanic grit.

They describe one of so-called’s readings as modalizing or distancing, specifically as involving a negative evaluation. They test whether this use can be denied using a propositional negation, or using a contradiction that targets not-at-issue content (Wait a minute…!), and they find that participants rated not-at-issue denials higher than propositional negation denials, suggesting that negative evaluation readings convey not-at-issue content.

Although it is not easy to replicate these data with el tal ‘X’, the patterns illustrated in (41) suggest that it also involves not-at-issue content. El tal in (41)a introduces a pejorative evaluation of ‘Blázquez’, perhaps because he is not welcome as a bishop, as suggested in the earlier example. In that context, attempting to reject the at-issue content through propositional negation is infelicitous, as shown in (41)b, whereas a not-at-issue denial is slightly better, as seen in (41)c.

    1. (41)
    1. a.
    1.   Nos
    2.   CL
    1. nombraron
    2. introduced
    1. a-l
    2. DOM-the
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Blázquez.
    2. Blazquez
    1.    ‘They named the “so-called” Blázquez.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. #No
    2.   not
    1. es
    2. is
    1. verdad.
    2. true
    1. ¡Blázquez
    2.   Blazquez
    1. es
    2. is
    1. una
    2. a
    1. maravilla!
    2. wonder
    1.    ‘That’s not true, Blázquez is charming!
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. ¡Un momento!
    2.   one moment
    1. ¡(Si)
    2.   (EMPH)
    1. Blázquez
    2. Blazquez
    1. es
    2. a
    1. una
    2. is
    1. maravilla!
    2. wonder
    1.    ‘Wait a minute, Blázquez is wonderful!’

The fact that a not-at-issue content is better than propositional negation suggests that the negative evaluation meaning is not-at-issue, although clearly distinguishable from evidential meaning.

2.3 Definiteness

Although it is possible to have definite el tal ‘X’, in that case, two things happen: the meaning tends to be much more clearly evaluative rather than evidential, and several of the distributional/interpretive restrictions above disappear. To begin with, el tal ‘the so-called’ can appear with CNs (cf. (42)), with inanimate nouns (cf. (43)), and with plural nouns (cf. (44)):

    1. (42)
    1. Había
    2. was
    1. un
    2. a
    1. árbitro
    2. referee
    1. malísimo.
    2. terrible.
    1. El
    2. the
    1. tal
    2. so-called
    1. Pedro/árbitro…
    2. Pedro/referee…
    1. ‘There was a terrible referee. The “so-called” Pedro/referee…’
    1. (43)
    1. Dice
    2. says
    1. que
    2. that
    1. se
    2. CL
    1. le
    2. CL
    1. apareció
    2. appeared
    1. un
    2. a
    1. árbol.
    2. tree.
    1. El
    2. The
    1. tal
    2. so-called
    1. árbol
    2. tree
    1. no
    2. not
    1. lo
    2. CL
    1. encontramos.
    2. found
    1. ‘S/he said that a tree showed up. The “so-called” tree, we couldn’t find.’
    1. (44)
    1. Vimos
    2. saw
    1. a
    2. DOM
    1. unos
    2. INDEF.PL
    1. Capuletos/adolescentes.
    2. Capuletos/teenagers
    1. Los
    2. the
    1. tales
    2. so-called
    1. Capuletos/adolescentes
    2. Capuletos/teenagers
    1. andaban
    2. ASP
    1. paseando.
    2. walking
    1. ‘We saw Capuletos/teenagers. Those “so-called” Capuletos/teenagers were walking.’

If the noun is a CN, then prenominal adjectives are more acceptable, as shown in (45).

    1. (45)
    1. Después
    2. after
    1. que
    2. that
    1. cancelaran
    2. cancelled
    1. el
    2. the
    1. vuelo,
    2. flight
    1. hablamos
    2. talked
    1. con
    2. with
    1. el
    2. the
    1. ‘representante
    2. representative
    1. de
    2. of
    1. los
    2. the
    1. usuarios’
    2. users
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. línea
    2. line
    1. aérea.
    2. aérea.
    1. ?El
    2.   the
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. supuesto
    2. alleged
    1. representante
    2. costumer.representative
    1. no
    2. not
    1. nos
    2. CL
    1. resolvió
    2. solved
    1. el
    2. the
    1. problema.
    2. problem
    1. ‘After they cancelled the flight, we talked to the airline’s ‘costumer representative’. The alleged representative did not solve our problem.’

As these examples show, el tal ‘X’ becomes a definite description that refers to an antecedent in discourse, and in this sense it is definite. Consequently, it cannot appear in existential contexts, as seen in (46).

    1. (46)
    1. Llegamos
    2. arrived
    1. a
    2. at
    1. la
    2. the
    1. reunion.
    2. meeting
    1. *Había
    2.   was
    1. el
    2. the
    1. tal
    2. so-called
    1. Ernestico.
    2. Ernestico
    1. ‘We arrived at the meeting. There was the “so-called” Ernestico.’

The fact that the changes in the distribution of el tal ‘X’ correlate with a change in the meaning of tal suggests that evidentiality is crucial for the PN-like properties of un tal ‘X’.

The properties of the alternation between un/el tal X are summarized in (47).9

    1. (47)
    1. Summary of properties of un/el tal ‘X’

To summarize the relevant issues, the properties of un tal challenge the generalization in (9), which states that PN determiners tend to be definite if they are not specialized, and also the paradox in (12), which describes two competing views of DPN as either definite or expletive. Evidential tal cannot appear with a definite determiner and must appear with the indefinite. Conversely, evaluative tal can appear with the definite determiner, and is not restricted to PNs.

3 Proposal

As suggested, the main issue that un tal ‘X’ raises is the paradox of a PN with an indefinite determiner that designates a unique individual, and can appear in existential contexts. As suggested earlier, evidentiality plays a key role in creating the special set of circumstances that allow this DP to exist. In this section, I will first spell out the assumptions regarding definiteness, then I will present the account of evidentiality that I will be adopting, and finally, I will put those pieces together to account for why the definite determiner is incompatible with tal ‘X’ when the meaning is evidential. This account will include a proposal that connects evidentiality and person marking as two sides of the same coin, following Speas (2004).

3.1 On definiteness

PNs are generally interpreted as definite and, for this reason, they tend to appear with a definite determiner (cf. (12)a above). Two properties have been identified with definiteness in the literature: familiarity and uniqueness, among others. Heim (1982; 1983) argues that definiteness involves familiarity in the sense of presupposing an existing referent in discourse. Thus, if a speaker wants to refer to an individual named Ana, she automatically presupposes that the individual named Ana exits in discourse. The existence presupposition is not cancellable for PNs, unlike with ordinary definite descriptions: whereas the current king of France is false because it has no referent, Ana automatically presupposes an individual named ‘Ana’.

In addition to familiarity, definiteness induces uniqueness and maximality (cf. Chierchia 1998, among others). Specifically, Chierchia (1998: 346) derives uniqueness and maximality by generalizing the iota operator ‘ɩ’: when applied to a set of singularities, the operator “will yield a result only when the predicate has just one object in its extension.”

Next, we turn the contribution of evidentiality, and later to the interaction between (in)definiteness and evidentiality.

3.2 Evidentiality and naming content

As mentioned above, un tal ‘X’ has two possible meanings, evidential and evaluative. We argue that the evidential meaning, in particular, is possible with PNs because it operates on the naming content of the PN. This means that the NP predicate Ernestico has the meaning {ɩX such that X is named ‘/ernestiko/’} and the evidential provides information about the source of this naming, yielding {ɩX such that X allegedly named ‘/ernestiko/’}. This account explains why un tal is not compatible with CNs: since a regular CN does not involve being named anything, the evidential cannot target that semantic content.

I adopt a view of illocutionary evidentials as contributing pragmatic and presuppositional content (cf. Potts 2005, among others). Specifically, if we assume that discourse participants share a common ground that contains the set of shared presuppositions, the role of evidentials is to restrict that common ground through not-at-issue content (cf. Murray 2010; 2011). Murray (2010: 94–5) illustrates this point with the Cheyenne direct evidential shown in (48)a. This sentence has the at-issue, propositional content ‘Floyd won’, similar to the translation in English, and not-at-issue content indicating that the speaker has direct experience about the at-issue content. Whereas at-issue content can be denied and is negotiable by saying ‘no, he didn’t win’, not-at-issue content is non-negotiable and cannot be denied, so that the continuation ‘you didn’t witness it’ is not felicitous. A similar account would apply to the hearsay evidential illustrated in (48)b.

    1. (48)
    1. Cheyenne
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. É-hó’tȧhéva-∅
    2. 3-win-DIR
    1. Floyd.
    2. Floyd
    1. ‘Floyd won, I’m sure.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. É-hó’tȧhéva-sėstse
    2. 3-win-RPT
    1. Floyd.
    2. Floyd
    1. ‘Floyd won, I hear.’

Not-at-issue content is asserted and directly added to the common ground. For example, when a speaker uses the reportative evidential in (48)b, the initial common ground is the one represented in the left figure in (49). This common ground includes whatever presuppositions and implicatures the discourse participants initially share. Once the statement in (48)b is produced, reportative evidential –sėstse ‘I hear’, represented as RPT, automatically updates the common ground to those situations in which the speaker heard the content ‘Floyd won’. This update is represented as the intersection portion of the center figure in (49). If the listener accepts the propositional content ‘Floyd won’, then the common ground is further updated, as indicated by the darkest intersection in the right-most diagram in (49). This new common ground is restricted to the situations in which Floyd won, and the speaker heard that information.

    1. (49)
    1. Contribution of evidentials to the common ground

However, if the speaker does not accept the propositional content, for example, if she replies: ‘No, she didn’t win’, then the common ground will not be updated with at-issue content. Thus, common ground updates can be automatic (as in the case of non-negotiable, not-at-issue evidential updates) or negotiable (as in the case of at-issue content updates).

The extension of this proposal to the case of un tal ‘X’ would be as follows: imagine the discourse in (50). The initial discourse context at the time of the embedded temporal clause in bold, is represented in the left-hand diagram in (51), and it includes the common ground updated by ‘we were sitting at a restaurant’.

    1. (50)
    1. Estábamos
    2. were
    1. sentados
    2. sitting
    1. en
    2. in
    1. la
    2. the
    1. mesa
    2. table
    1. de-l
    2. of.the
    1. restaurante
    2. restaurant
    1. cuando
    2. when
    1. llegó
    2. arrived
    1. una
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. María.
    2. Maria
    1. ‘We were sitting at the table in a restaurant when one María arrived.’
    1. (51)
    1. Contribution of evidential un tal to the common ground

Un tal automatically updates the common ground to the situations where the speaker heard that ‘someone is called ‘María’’, as shown in the middle diagram of (51) (recall that RPT indicates reported information). Finally, the proposed at-issue update would be that ‘someone (who is called María) arrived’, as in the right-hand diagram of (51). As before, the interlocutor can deny this last proposed update, for example by saying: no, era Marta ‘no, it was Marta’, or no, no llegó ‘no, she didn’t arrive’, but the reported source of María’s name cannot be questioned.

To sum up, first, tal represents an evidential operator, second, it takes structural scope over the naming predicate introduced by the PN; third, the evidential content is not-at-issue and it automatically updates and restricts the common ground. Because it is not-at-issue, the source of evidence cannot be contradicted.

3.3 Definiteness and evidentiality

We are now in a position to derive the incompatibility between the definite determiner and evidential tal. In the preceding sections, I assumed that PNs must be unique and familiar, which results in using the definite determiner in the default case (more on this below). I also proposed that evidential tal contributes not-at-issue content that automatically updates the common ground. In this section, I will suggest that evidential content is incompatible with the familiarity presupposition.

Recall the generalizations established in section 2.3: whenever the determiner is definite, the meaning of tal ‘X’ is evaluative, not evidential, as shown again in (52).

    1. (52)
    1. Llegó
    2. arrived
    1. el
    2. the
    1. tal
    2. so-called
    1. Ernestico.
    2. Ernestico
    1. ‘The “so-called” Ernestico arrived (only evaluative, not evidential).’

Let us see how the common ground would be updated in those cases. Since the definite determiner indicates that the NP is familiar, this means that the proposed common ground update will only include contexts in which the referent of the PN is familiar. However, in those contexts in which the speaker is familiar with the referent of the DP, she should also have evidence as to the person’s name. In other words, the initial common ground already includes Ernestico, and therefore, his established name. When the speaker uses tal as an evidential, the common ground is automatically updated only to those situations in which the speaker heard that X is called Ernestico, as represented in (53). However, this newly updated common ground does not share anything in common with the familiarity presupposition encoded in the PN, so the final common ground cannot be successfully updated.

    1. (53)

To put it slightly differently, because the evidential, not-at-issue content involves an automatic update, it prevails over the familiarity presupposition. The only available alternative in this case is to eliminate the familiarity presupposition, namely to use an indefinite determiner. Conversely, the definite determiner becomes possible when tal is interpreted as an evaluative, rather than as an evidential (cf. (52)). In this case, the evaluative is not evidential, although I have suggested that it is also not-at-issue. To account for the difference between evidentiality and evaluation, I offer two tentative possibilities: first, the evaluative not-at-issue content does not automatically update the common ground (and is therefore subject to negotiation, unlike evidential content), or, alternatively, if the evaluative common ground update is automatic, that evaluative content does not conflict with familiarity. I leave this issue open for further research.10

3.4 On PN licensing: Generalizing the person hierarchy

One immediate consequence of the analysis just presented is that definiteness/familiarity cannot be the only property licensing PNs. Rather, definiteness/familiarity is the default value, given the normal conditions in which a PN appears. These conditions can be systematically altered, as we saw with evidentiality. The familiarity presupposition is cancelled due to the presence of evidential content, therefore the definite determiner does not appear. However, this conclusion raises the question of why PNs should yield a familiar presupposition in the general case. As mentioned in section 1.2, Bernstein (2008) and Longobardi (2008) propose that DPs are licensed by a [person] feature in D, based on the complementary distribution of pronouns and determiners in certain contexts in Italian (cf. (13) above, repeated as (54)).

    1. (54)
    1. a.
    1.   I
    2.   the
    1. ricchi
    2. rich
    1. stanno
    2. are.3PL
    1. trascurando
    2. neglecting
    1. certi
    2. certain
    1. problema.
    2. problems
    1.    ‘The rich are neglecting certain problems.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Noi
    2.   we
    1. ricchi
    2. rich
    1. stiamo
    2. are.1PL
    1. trascurando
    2. neglecting
    1. certi
    2. certain
    1. problema.
    2. problems
    1.    ‘We the rich are neglecting certain problems.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *I
    2.   the
    1. ricchi
    2. rich
    1. noi
    2. we
    1. stiamo
    2. are.1PL
    1. trascurando
    2. neglecting
    1. certi
    2. certain
    1. problema.
    2. problems

However, this paradigm does not extend to Spanish, which lacks a pronominal determiner in similar cases, as discussed in Jelinek (1984); Ordóñez & Treviño (1999) and Camacho (2013), see (55).

    1. (55)
    1. a.
    1. *Nosotros
    2.   we
    1. ricos
    2. rich
    1. estamos
    2. are.3PL
    1. ignorando
    2. neglecting
    1. ciertos
    2. certain
    1. problemas.
    2. problems
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Nosotros
    2.   we
    1. los
    2. the
    1. ricos
    2. rich
    1. estamos
    2. are.3PL
    1. ignorando
    2. neglecting
    1. ciertos
    2. certain
    1. problemas.
    2. problems
    1.    ‘(We) the rich are neglecting certain problems.’

This contrast between Spanish and Italian suggests that the syntactic location of [person] may vary across languages (D in Italian, a higher head in Spanish). Be that as it may, it is also true that pronominal determiners are generally restricted to plural contexts (cf. (56)a), and for this reason, they are not productive with PNs (cf. (56)b–d). This suggests that [person] is not the only possible way of licensing D.

    1. (56)
    1. a.
    1. *Ella
    2.   she
    1. la
    2. the
    1. candidata
    2. candidate
    1. está
    2. is.3SG
    1. haciendo
    2. doing
    1. campaña.
    2. campaign
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Ella
    2.   she
    1. Rosa
    2. Rosa
    1. está
    2. is.3SG
    1. haciendo
    2. doing
    1. campaña.
    2. campaign
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *Yo
    2.   I
    1. José
    2. Jose
    1. no
    2. not
    1. know.1SG
    1. nada
    2. anything
    1. de
    2. of
    1. física.
    2. Physics
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. *Tú
    2.   you
    1. Marta
    2. Marta
    1. entiende-s
    2. understand-2SG
    1. el
    2. the
    1. problema.
    2. problema

In order to see other possibilities, we turn to Speas’ (2004) account of evidentiality in connection to Harley & Ritter’s (2002) feature hierarchy for referential expressions. Speas (2004) proposes that evidentials are governed by constraints similar to those that govern referential expressions. Specifically, she extends the feature hierarchy for referential expressions developed by Harley & Ritter (2002) to a modal base. This extension yields an evidential feature hierarchy, as illustrated in (57).

(57) Discourse-participant configurational representation (Harely & Ritter 2002; Speas 2004)
  a. b.

When the feature hierarchy applies to a referential base, the result is the hierarchy of referential expressions we see in (57)a, when it applies to a modal base, we obtain the evidential feature hierarchy in (57)b. As Speas (2004: 261) argues, “evidential morphemes spell out an agreement relation between the discourse and the world(s) in which the sentence is to be interpreted”. For example, a direct-evidence evidential will encode a modal base restricted to the [+SPEAKER] node in (57)b. Hearsay evidence, on the other hand, involves a modal base restricted to [INDIVIDUATED].

This proposal offers a principled connection between evidentiality and referentiality (cf. also Rooryck 2001) that will allow us to account for important parts of the distribution of un tal ‘X’. We can now reformulate Longobardi and Bernstein’s insights about the importance of person in licensing DPs, as in (58).

(58) A DP in Italian/Spanish involves a feature from either the referential or the modal feature hierarchy.

Let us assume that these features are hosted by a syntactic head ‘IND’, which will take a value from one of the nodes represented in the hierarchies in (57). For example, the DP el gato ‘the cat’ involves the value [INDIVID] for IND in the referential base in (57)a, whereas noi ricchi ‘we rich’ involves the value [PARTICIPANT] for that same node in that same base. In the case of un tal ‘X’, I propose that IND takes the value [INDIVID] from the modal base, as represented in the structure in (59). As in Longobardi’s (1994) analysis, the PN raises, but only to IND. This accounts for why no prenominal adjectives are possible. When IND is not spelled out as tal, as in Ana, the PN can raise further to D. The overt result is a bare PN. The partial spellout rules for D are presented in (60).11

    1. (59)
(60) a. D → ∅D/[D D + IND[REFBASE]] (corresponding to N-to-D raising)
  b. D → el, la, etc./ IND[REFBASE] (no raising)
  c. D → un, una, etc./ IND[MODBASE]  

Familiarity, in turn, is a feature that can optionally be associated with 3rd person, individuated DPs, as seen in (61). In the first example, un peatón is indefinite (specific or non-specific). In the second one, it is definite/familiar.12

    1. (61)
    1. a.
    1. Había
    2. was
    1. un
    2. a
    1. peatón
    2. pedestrian
    1. cruzando.
    2. crossing
    1. ‘There was a pedestrian crossing.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. El
    2. the
    1. peatón
    2. pedestrian
    1. llevaba
    2. wore
    1. una
    2. a
    1. camisa
    2. shirt
    1. azul.
    2. blue
    1. ‘The pedestrian wore a blue shirt.’

As I have argued earlier, PNs must be [INDIVID] and familiar, although the familiarity presupposition can be cancelled when [INDIVID] applies to a modal base.

An anonymous reviewer wonders whether the proposed analysis extends to other cases beyond un tal ‘X’. It is true that most DPs in Spanish, Italian or English are licensed via the referential base, not the modal one. However, some possibilities worth exploring involve epistemic adjectives, such as supuesto ‘alleged’, illustrated in (62), already discussed in section 2.2.1.

    1. (62)
    1. Un
    2. an
    1. supuesto
    2. alleged
    1. representante
    2. representative
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. compañía
    2. company
    1. llamó
    2. called
    1. por
    2. by
    1. teléfono.
    2. phone
    1. ‘An alleged representative of the company phoned.’

As suggested in that section, epistemic adjectives share some modal properties with un tal, but un tal has a source of evidence content that is not present in supuesto. This difference could be accounted for by proposing that supuesto applies to the root of the modal base in (57)b, whereas tal applies to the [IND] node. Following this idea, supuesto ‘alleged’ updates the common ground to those situations that are identical to the current one, but where the person who called is an impostor.

In other languages, evidentiality is more systematically expressed in nominals (cf. Imai 2003; Lecarme 2008). For example, according to Dixon (1972), nouns in Dyirbal appear with a noun marker with which they agree in case. This marker also indicates noun class and distance from the speaker, as illustrated in (63).

    1. (63)
    1. Dyirbal (Dixon 1972: 46)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. bayi
    2. there.VIS
    1. yaɾa
    2. man
    1. miyandaŋu.
    2. is.laughing
    1. ‘That man is laughing.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. giyi
    2. here.VIS
    1. yaɾa
    2. man
    1. miyandaŋu.
    2. is.laughing
    1. ‘This man is laughing.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. ŋayi
    2. there.NOT.VIS
    1. yaɾa
    2. man
    1. miyandaŋu.
    2. is.laughing
    1. ‘The man (not visible) is laughing.’

More importantly for our purposes, bayi ‘there.VIS’ and giyi ‘here.VIS’ indicate a visible referent, whereas ŋayi ‘there.NOT.VIS’ indicates a non-visible referent. Reference to visibility is also pervasive in other Austronesian languages like the Western Desert language (Wati) and in the Western Torres Strait language (Dixon 1972: 45). Thus, in terms of the hierarchy in (57), all three noun markers in Dyirbal would indicate distance with respect to the [+SPEAKER] node in the referential scale. Additionally, since they also indicate evidential content, they would also have values specified for the modal base: bayi ‘there.VIS’ and giyi ‘here.VIS’ indicate source of information, namely content related to the [+SPEAKER] node in the modal base, and ŋayi ‘there.NOT.VIS’ indicates source of information related to the [INDIVIDUATION] node in the modal base.

Danziger (1994) describes a similar pattern in the locative system of Mopan Mayan, which also involves divisions structured around participants and evidentiality (visible and non-visible): waye’ ‘deictic locative’ centered on the speaker, ta’kan ‘deictic locative’ centered on the interlocutor, tilo’ ‘deictic locative’ centered on a visible third person, and te’ ‘deictic locative’ measured around an non-visible third person’.

These paradigms from Dyirbal and Mopan Mayan provide further evidence of the interaction between the referential and the modal hierarchies in (57). They further illustrate the possibility that both bases simultaneously apply within the same nominal structure.

To summarize, I have proposed that PNs include a syntactic head IND whose semantic value [INDIVID] yields two possible results: when applied to the referential base, the PN is a person-licensed non-speaker, non-addressee, when it applies to the modal base, it is hearsay headed by tal. In the former case, the determiner is ∅ if N raises to D, or el/la if it does not. In the latter case, no raising is possible, and the determiner is un/una because hearsay is incompatible with the familiarity presupposition. I have also shown other cases in which the current analysis may be extended: epistemic adjectives like supuesto ‘alleged’, noun markers in Dyirbal and deictics in Mopan Mayan. Finally, these examples raise the possibility that both modal bases apply to the same nominal structure.

4 Conclusions

The main question raised in this paper is whether definiteness is a defining property of PNs. I have argued that un tal ‘X’ in Spanish suggests that definiteness is only the default case that results from the familiarity presupposition on PNs. However, when the conditions are right, not only is definiteness not necessary, it is not possible. Specifically, the evidential content contributed by tal is incompatible with the familiarity presupposition, which is cancelled. As a result, the definite determiner is not possible, and the indefinite determiner takes its place. Based on this correlation between evidentiality and indefiniteness, I have suggested that licensing a PN involves a feature from a hierarchy that can apply to the referential domain, yielding the traditional person licensing, or to the modal domain, yielding indirect evidence.

Notes

1The debate on whether PNs are referential or predicative is longstanding, particularly in the semantic literature. This paper does not directly address the philosophical arguments in that debate, but rather addresses the potential consequences of the distribution of un tal ‘X’ ‘a certain x’ for those views.

2As far as I can tell, Longobardi (2005) does not provide a principled account for (9), because overt PN determiners are expletive in his analysis, so in principle, one could get a non-definite determiner (as in Tagalog or Catalan).

3As I will describe below, tal can be evidential or evaluative. Throughout the paper, the evaluative meaning of tal will be glossed as ‘so-called’, and translated using scare quotes in the examples. This convention will only be used when speaking about the evaluative meaning specifically, otherwise, the gloss will be ‘certain’, which tends to reflect the evidential meaning.

4Balearic Catalan PN articles share several of the properties listed here. They differ with respect to evidentiality: in Balearic, the referent of the PN must be familiar to the speaker, as an anonymous reviewer notes, cf. Bernstein et al. (2016).

Brazilian Portuguese also has a similar construction, un tal de João ‘a certain Joao’, brought to my attention by Andrew Nevins (p.c.). However, the conditions and the distribution of the Brazilian Portuguese construction are different, for example, the preposition (impossible in Spanish) is optional in Brazilian Portuguese. Thanks also to Marcello Modesto for discussion on Brazilian Portuguese facts.

5An anonymous reviewer correctly notes that verbs like llamar ‘call’, bautizar ‘baptize’, etc. only take bare PNs. This confirms the idea that the indefinite is not an expletive in any obvious way.

6Similar observations apply to cierto ‘certain’, which shares some properties with un tal, for example the incompatibility with definite determiners: un cierto aburrimiento ‘a certain boredom’/*el cierto aburrimiento ‘the certain boredom’. However, cierto is not possible with PNs: *un/el cierto Pedro ‘the certain Pedro’.

Thanks to an anonymous reviewer for raising questions about cierto and to Andrés Saab, p.c. for questions about the parallel between un tal and epistemic adjectives.

7Un tal ‘X’ does not align with all of the properties of illocutionary evidentials. For example, it is not possible in true informative questions, as seen in (i).

    1. (i)
    1. *¿Cuándo
    2.     when
    1. llegó
    2. arrived
    1. un
    2. a
    1. tal
    2. certain
    1. Ernestico?
    2. Ernestico

8This evidential/evaluative ambiguity has also been observed for dizque, a CP-related particle analyzed by Travis (2006) and Demonte & Fernández-Soriano (2014).

9Prenominal adjectives are only possible with CNs.

10Andrés Saab (p.c.) suggests that the evaluative meaning is derived from the evidential one. This is an important topic, since these two meanings are closely related, and they also appear in the reportative/evaluative particle dizque ‘supposedly’. I have no clear ideas about the directionality of the relationship between the two, however.

11An anonymous reviewer notes that señor ‘mister’ would follow the pattern of prenominal adjectives: el tal señor Vázquez ‘the alleged Mr. Vazquez’. This is consistent with the fact that señor follows determiners in the regular case: el señor Vázquez. See Bernstein, Ordóñez & Roca (2016), who propose an intermediate category for ClassifierP for items such as honorific don/doña and the PN determiner en/na in Catalan. The distributions observed by them somewhat overlap the ones described in this paper, although they diverge in important ways as well.

12DPs with a referential [PARTICIPANT] feature, which includes [SPEAKER] and [ADDRESSEE] seem to be obligatorily familiar, as seen (i). In this example, although the adverb induces a generic reading, the 1st person can only refer to a familiar speaker.

    1. (i)
    1. Siempre
    2. always
    1. que
    2. that
    1. salgo,
    2. go.out.1SG
    1. llama
    2. calls.3SG
    1. alguien.
    2. someone
    1. ‘Whenever I go out, someone calls.’

Abbreviations

CL = clitic, DIR = direct evidential, DOM = differential object marking, EMPH = emphatic, FEM = feminine, GEN = genitive, LOC.VOICE = locative voice, MAS = masculine, NOT.VIS = not visible, PAST = past, PL = plural, PN = proper name, POSS = possessive, RPT = reported evidential, SG = singular, SPEC = specific article, VIS = visible

Acknowledgements

Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Bilingual Workshop in Theoretical Linguistics (BWTL, University of Toronto, 2017), Congreso de Gramática Generativa (Universtitat Rovira I Virgili, 2018). I wish to thank the audiences, and the following individuals for fruitful discussion and useful comments: Juan Camacho, Elena Castroviejo, David Heap, Olga Fernández-Soriano, María Luisa Hernanz, Giuseppe Longobardi, Diane Massam, Marcello Modesto, Andrew Nevis, and Liliana Sánchez. I am particularly grateful to and two anonymous reviewers and to Andrés Saab for detailed comments, suggestions and discussion on the content of the paper.

Competing Intererests

The author has no competing interests to declare.

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