Why Some Foci Must Associate

Abstract

The association of only with focus is explained in terms of (a) a semantics for only which makes no mention of focus and (b) discourse appropriateness conditions on the use of focus and principles of quantifier domain selection. This account differs from previous ones in giving sufficient conditions for association with focus but without stipulating it in the meaning of lexical items. Detractors have contended that foci have different pragmatic import depending on whether or not they are associated with a higher operator. I give evidence against this claim. Others argue that there is no deterministic connection between intonational focus and association. One argument for this is the fact that association readings are possible even when nothing in the scope of the operator is focussed. The present account predicts the absence of intonational focus in these cases and explains how the readings come about. The wide variety of associating operators provide incentive for pursuing accounts like the present one based on independent principles of grammar.

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Citations of this work

Economy and Embedded Exhaustification.Danny Fox & Benjamin Spector - 2018 - Natural Language Semantics 26 (1):1-50.
Focus Below the Word Level.Ron Artstein - 2004 - Natural Language Semantics 12 (1):1-22.

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