Two Types of Weak Determiners: Evidence from Spanish

Weak determiners have both a presuppositional and a non presuppositional reading. Two ways of accounting for this fact have been proposed. The Ambiguity Approach (Partee 1989, Diesing 1992, de Hoop 1992) posits that weak determiners are ambiguous. The Pragmatic Approach (Büring 1996) claims that we do not need to postulate an ambiguity in the semantics: the presuppositional reading arises as a result of presuppositions triggered by topic/focus marking. In this paper we explore the possibility that both theories are needed. We present as evidence the behavior of two Spanish weak determiners, unos and algunos. Algunos can get a presuppositional reading independently of topic/focus marking, as predicted by the Ambiguity Approach. Unos, on the other hand, exhibits the behavior predicted by the Pragmatic Approach: it is presuppositional only when marked either as contrastive topic or as focus.
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