On the characterization of alternatives

Natural Language Semantics 19 (1):87-107 (2011)
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The computation of both Scalar Implicatures (SI) and Association with Focus (AF) is characterized with reference to sets of alternatives. However, it has generally been assumed that the relevant alternatives are determined in different ways for the two processes. Specifically, it has been assumed that the alternatives for SI – scalar alternatives – are computed by a special procedure specifically designed for implicatures, whereas the alternatives for AF – focus alternatives – are determined by the general theory of association with focus – focus semantics. As far as we know, the only attempt to connect the two is Krifka (1995), under which scalar alternatives and focus alternatives are identical and determined by focus semantics. However, Krifka’s result is based on a specific stipulation about scalar items, which he borrows from Horn and incorporates into focus semantics, namely that scalar items are inherently focused and have their Horn Scale as their lexically specified focus values.



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