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Modals without scales

Language 87 (3):559-585 (2011)

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  1. Finding the force: How children discern possibility and necessity modals.Anouk Dieuleveut, Annemarie van Dooren, Ailís Cournane & Valentine Hacquard - forthcoming - Natural Language Semantics:1-42.
    This paper investigates when and how children figure out the force of modals: that possibility modals express possibility, and necessity modals express necessity. Modals raise a classic subset problem: given that necessity entails possibility, what prevents learners from hypothesizing possibility meanings for necessity modals? Three solutions to such subset problems can be found in the literature: the first is for learners to rely on downward-entailing environments :185–215, 2009); the second is a bias for strong meanings; the third is for learners (...)
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  • On Necessity and Comparison.Aynat Rubinstein - 2014 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 95 (4):512-554.
    The ability to compare possibilities and designate some as ‘better’ than others is a fundamental aspect of our use of modals and propositional attitude verbs. This article aims to support a proposal by Sloman that certain modal expressions, in particular, ought, in fact have a more pronounced comparative backbone than others . The connection between ‘ought’ and ‘better’ is supported by linguistic data and a proposal is advanced for modeling ideals in a way that makes room for non-comparative, strong, priority-type (...)
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  • The nature of the semantic stimulus: the acquisition of every as a case study.Ezer Rasin & Athulya Aravind - 2021 - Natural Language Semantics 29 (2):339-375.
    We evaluate the richness of the child’s input in semantics and its relation to the hypothesis space available to the child. Our case study is the acquisition of the universal quantifier every. We report two main findings regarding the acquisition of every on the basis of a corpus study of child-directed and child-ambient speech. Our first finding is that the input in semantics is rich enough to systematically eliminate instances of the subset problem of language acquisition: overly general hypotheses about (...)
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  • Bare Conditionals in the Red.Elena Herburger - 2019 - Linguistics and Philosophy 42 (2):131-175.
    Bare conditionals, I argue, exhibit Conditional Duality in that when they appear in downward entailing environments they differ from bare conditionals elsewhere in having existential rather than universal force. Two recalcitrant phenomena are shown to find a new explanation under this thesis: bare conditionals under only, and bare conditionals in the scope of negative nominal quantifiers, or what has come to be known as Higginbotham’s puzzle. I also consider how bare conditionals behave when embedded under negation, arguing that such conditionals (...)
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  • Swahili Conditional Constructions in Embodied Frames of Reference: Modeling Semantics, Pragmatics, and Context-Sensitivity in UML Mental Spaces.Roderick Fish - 2020 - Dissertation, Trinity Western University
    Studies of several languages, including Swahili [swa], suggest that realis (actual, realizable) and irrealis (unlikely, counterfactual) meanings vary along a scale (e.g., 0.0–1.0). T-values (True, False) and P-values (probability) account for this pattern. However, logic cannot describe or explain (a) epistemic stances toward beliefs, (b) deontic and dynamic stances toward states-of-being and actions, and (c) context-sensitivity in conditional interpretations. (a)–(b) are deictic properties (positions, distance) of ‘embodied’ Frames of Reference (FoRs)—space-time loci in which agents perceive and from which they contextually (...)
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  • Two Uummarmiutun Modals – Including a Brief Comparison with Utkuhikšalingmiutut Cognates.Signe Rix Berthelin - 2017 - Toronto Working Papers in Linguistics 39.
    The paper is concerned with the meaning of two modal postbases in Uummarmiutun, hungnaq ‘probably’ and ȓukȓau ‘should’. Uummarmiutun is an Inuktut dialect spoken in the Western Arctic. The analyses are founded on knowledge shared by native speakers of Uummarmiutun. Their statements and elaborations are quoted throughout the paper to show how they have explained the meaning nuances of modal expressions in their language. The paper also includes a comparison with cognates in Utkuhikšalingmiutut, which belongs to the eastern part of (...)
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