We are happy to announce a talk by Julien Foglietti (Frankfurt) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.

Title:The first name/last name asymmetry – Observations and Experimental investigation

Date: July 14

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct


In my research I adopt the assumption that proper names are no different than common nouns. This assumption bears the name predicativism in the literature on proper names. For predicativists, proper names enter the syntax as property denoting expressions (Geurts 1997, Fara 2015, Matushansky 2008) (e.g. ⟦NPJohn⟧ = λxe. x is called John) and they get their referential interpretation by combining with covert elements. I believe that predicativism can provide potential insight into the way in which proper names interact with determiners in some languages, and into the structure of complex proper names and of proper names below the word level.

The focus of this presentation will be to present some observations related to complex proper names (i.e., full names) and to propose an experiment to investigate the syntax and the semantics of full names. Although first names, last names and full names can all be used to refer to a given individual, these different types of names still display some differences in some contexts:

  •  Last names usually come with a “family membership” element for free,
  • Using a last name, a first name or a full name may indicate something of the social closeness between the name bearer and the speaker and/or hearer,
  • Last names and first names behave differently in the coordination of full names.

The facts about the “family membership” element and the coordination of full names will provide the basis for my experimental investigation. The goal of my research on full names is to propose a syntactic and semantic analysis of first names, last names and full names that accounts for the facts.