Indefinite Objects

From Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

Indefinite Objects

Scrambling, Choice Functions, and Differential Marking

By Luis López

A novel view of the syntax-semantics interface that analyzes the behavior of indefinite objects.





A novel view of the syntax-semantics interface that analyzes the behavior of indefinite objects.

In Indefinite Objects, Luis López presents a novel approach to the syntax-semantics interface using indefinite noun phrases as a database. Traditional approaches map structural configurations to semantic interpretations directly; López links configuration to a mode of semantic composition, with the latter yielding the interpretation.

The polyvalent behavior of indefinites has long been explored by linguists who have been interested in their syntax, semantics, and case morphology, and López's contribution can be seen as a synthesis of findings from several traditions. He argues, first, that scrambled indefinite objects are composed by means of Function Application preceded by Choice Function while objects in situ are composed by means of Restrict. This difference yields the different interpretive possibilities of indefinite objects. López's more nuanced approach to the syntax-semantics interface turns out to be rich in empirical consequences.

Second, he proposes that short scrambling also yields Differential Marking, provided that context conditions are fulfilled, while in situ objects remain unmarked. Thus, López contributes to the extensive literature on Differential Object Marking by showing that syntactic configuration is a crucial factor.

López substantiates this approach with data from Spanish, Hindi-Urdu, Persian (Farsi), Kiswahili, Romanian, and German.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262018036 188 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262517850 188 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


  • Luis López draws upon recent developments in both syntax and semantics to provide an interesting and novel account of differential object marking and scope phenomena. This work includes insightful discussion of innovations in the analysis of indefinites and the semantics of specificity, as well as an in depth study of a broad range of data. The book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the intricacies of Spanish syntax and the syntax/semantics interface more generally.

    Molly Diesing

    Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Linguistics, Cornell University

  • This is a very welcome contribution to an ever fascinating topic. It solves old but also new syntactic and semantic puzzles on Spanish indefinite object marking. It proposes an innovative theory on the mapping from syntactic position to interpretation via type-shifting, which is able to explain issues of morphological marking, scrambling, and interpretations of indefinites cross-linguistically.

    Helen de Hoop

    Professor of Theoretical Linguistics, Centre for Language Studies, Radboud University Nijmegen

  • Luis López's book is masterful. Lucidly written, creative, and empirically careful, this work will set the standard for research on differential object marking and semantic incorporation for some time to come.

    Sandra Chung

    Professor of Linguistics, University of California, Santa Cruz