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Epistemic IndefinitesExploring Modality Beyond the Verbal Domain$
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Luis Alonso-Ovalle and Paula Menéndez-Benito

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199665297

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665297.001.0001

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Grading and hedging by gewiss

Grading and hedging by gewiss

Chapter:
(p.162) (p.163) 8 Grading and hedging by gewiss
Source:
Epistemic Indefinites
Author(s):

Stefan Hinterwimmer

Carla Umbach

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199665297.003.0008

The chapter argues for a unified account of three different kinds of DPs headed by the German specificity marker ein(e) gewiss(e): DPs with count nouns, DPs with proper names, and DPs with abstract mass nouns derived from gradable adjectives. In the latter two cases, the variant with ein gewiss gives rise to speaker commitments weaker than those associated with their salient alternatives (namely sentences employing bare proper names and bare abstract mass nouns, respectively) while in the first case it is the other way round. The authors show that this at first sight problematic fact can be accounted for by combining the analysis of Ebert, Ebert, and Hinterwimmer (2013) of ein(e) gewiss(e) in combination with count nouns with independently motivated assumptions about the semantics of proper names and abstract mass nouns, on the one hand, and plausible pragmatic principles, on the other.

Keywords:   specificity, abstract mass nouns, proper names, gradable adjectives, hedging

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