On a tué le président! The nature of Passives and Ultra-indefinites
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Non-quantificational NP's are often divided into indefinites and definites. The former introduce new referents; the latter refer back to entities already introduced in discourse (see Kamp 1981, Heirri 1982, Fauconnier 1984, among others). In this paper, I amend this classification and show that some non-definite NP's, unlike ordinary indefinites, do not introduce discourse terms for future anaphoric reference. I call such NP's 'ultra-indefinites'. My primary example of ultra-indefinites comes from indefinite uses of the subject clitic (or affix) on 'people/someone' in French. Building on work in Discourse Representation Theory I propose to model ultra-indefinites by distinguishing two basic roles of argument NP's- as trackers of discourse referents and satisfiers of a predicate's argument positions- such that some, those I call ultra-indefinites, only fulfill the second function. Finally, I point out the functional similarities between indefinite uses of on and morphosyntactic passives and suggest that sign-based grammars or any grammar obeying Bach 1976's ruleto- nile hypothesis can easily model these functional similarities across morphosyntactic differences.