David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Linguistics and Philosophy 32 (4):353-407 (2009)
Bare plurals (dogs) behave in ways that quantified plurals (some dogs) do not. For instance, while the sentence John owns dogs implies that John owns more than one dog, its negation John does not own dogs does not mean “John does not own more than one dog”, but rather “John does not own a dog”. A second puzzling behavior is known as the dependent plural reading; when in the scope of another plural, the ‘more than one’ meaning of the plural is not distributed over, but the existential force of the plural is. For example, My friends attend good schools requires that each of my friends attend one good school, not more, while at the same time being inappropriate if all my friends attend the same school. This paper shows that both these phenomena, and others, arise from the same cause. Namely, the plural noun itself does not assert ‘more than one’, but rather the plural denotes a predicate that is number neutral (unspecified for cardinality). The ‘more than one’ meaning arises as an scalar implicature, relying on the scalar relationship between the bare plural and its singular alternative, and calculated in a sub-sentential domain; namely, before existential closure of the event variable. Finally, implications of this analysis will be discussed for the analysis of the quantified noun phrases that interact with bare plurals, such as indefinite numeral DPs (three boys), and singular universals (every boy)
|Keywords||Bare plurals Dependent plurals Scalar implicature Events|
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas J. McKay (2006). Plural Predication. Oxford University Press.
Fred Landman (2000). Events and Plurality. Kluwer Academic Publisher.
Ira Noveck (2001). When Children Are More Logical Than Adults: Experimental Investigations of Scalar Implicature. Cognition 78 (2):165-188.
Citations of this work BETA
Judith Degen & Michael K. Tanenhaus (2015). Processing Scalar Implicature: A Constraint‐Based Approach. Cognitive Science 39 (4):667-710.
Elizabeth Ferch (2013). Scopeless Quantity Words in Shona. Natural Language Semantics 21 (4):373-400.
Sivan Sabato & Yoad Winter (2012). Relational Domains and the Interpretation of Reciprocals. Linguistics and Philosophy 35 (3):191-241.
Lucas Champollion (forthcoming). Ten Men and Women Got Married Today: Noun Coordination and the Intersective Theory of Conjunction. Journal of Semantics:ffv008.
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