Plural superlatives and distributivity

In this paper we propose a unified semantics for singular and plural superlative expressions that makes use of the ‘**’ (“double star”) distributivity operator (an operator whose role is to pluralize 2-place predicates). The analysis aims to solve two problems: (a) the distributivity problem (the fact that a superlative expression doesn’t distribute over the atomic parts of the plural individual it is predicated of); and (b) the cut-off problem (the fact that a plural superlative expression cannot simultaneously be predicated of two distinct yet overlapping plural individuals). We argue that any solution to these problems that posits two distinct superlative morphemes, one corresponding to a superlative operator for singular individuals and one corresponding to a superlative operator for plural individuals, is challenged by the lack of cross-linguistic morphological evidence. We provide a unified analysis, and account for the differences between plural and singular superlative expressions by appealing to pragmatic principles.
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The Comparative and Degree Pluralities.Jakub Dotlačil & Rick Nouwen - 2016 - Natural Language Semantics 24 (1):45-78.
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