Natural Language Semantics 19 (1):39-86 (2011)

This paper offers an analysis of metalinguistic comparatives such as more dumb than crazy in which they differ from ordinary comparatives in the scale on which they compare: ordinary comparatives use scales lexically determined by particular adjectives, but metalinguistic ones use a generally-available scale of imprecision or ‘pragmatic slack’. To implement this idea, I propose a novel compositional implementation of the Lasersohnian pragmatic-halos account of imprecision—one that represents clusters of similar meanings as Hamblin alternatives. In the theory that results, existential closure over alternatives mediates between alternative-sets and meanings in which imprecision has been resolved. I then articulate a version of this theory in which the alternatives are not related meanings but rather related utterances, departing significantly from Lasersohn’s original conception. Although such a theory of imprecision is more clearly ‘metalinguistic’, the evidence for it from metalinguistic comparatives in English is surprisingly limited. The overall picture that emerges is one in which the grammatical distinction between ordinary and metalinguistic comparatives tracks the independently motivated distinction between vagueness and imprecision
Keywords Comparatives  Imprecision  Metalinguistic phenomena  Degrees  Alternatives
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DOI 10.1007/s11050-010-9063-5
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References found in this work BETA

Aspects of the Theory of Syntax.Noam Chomsky - 1965 - Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.
Vagueness.Timothy Williamson - 1994 - London and New York: Routledge.
Vagueness, Truth and Logic.Kit Fine - 1975 - Synthese 30 (3-4):265-300.

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Citations of this work BETA

On Unidirectionality in Precisification.Peter Klecha - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (1):87-124.
Comparing Conventions.Rachel Etta Rudolph & Alexander W. Kocurek - 2020 - Semantics and Linguistic Theory 30:294-313.
On Mates's Puzzle.Andrés Soria-Ruiz - forthcoming - Mind and Language.
Not Half True.Poppy Mankowitz - forthcoming - Mind.

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