On the meaning of only

Journal of Semantics 25 (1):45-91 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX


This paper investigates the semantics of the focus particle only and is primarily concerned with the relation between the exclusive proposition and the proposition expressed by the prejacent. We argue that, in a sentence of the form only A is B, only triggers the conditional presupposition that if something is B, A is B. We show that in a positive- only sentence, the prejacent is a conversational implicature and therefore it is cancellable. Instead, in a negative- only sentence the prejacent is shown to be entailed by any context that satisfies the conditional presupposition and to which the assertion is added. Hence, the prejacent of a negative- only sentence is not cancellable. The entailment analyses, the strong presupposition analyses and the weak presupposition analyses of only are discussed, together with the problems that each type of theories faces.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,322

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles


Added to PP

31 (#498,916)

6 months
11 (#220,905)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

Economy and embedded exhaustification.Danny Fox & Benjamin Spector - 2018 - Natural Language Semantics 26 (1):1-50.
Free choice, simplification, and Innocent Inclusion.Moshe E. Bar-Lev & Danny Fox - 2020 - Natural Language Semantics 28 (3):175-223.
Principles of the Exclusive Muddle.Elizabeth Coppock & David I. Beaver - 2014 - Journal of Semantics 31 (3):fft007.
Questions with NPIs.Andreea C. Nicolae - 2015 - Natural Language Semantics 23 (1):21-76.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references