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Gradability in Natural LanguageLogical and Grammatical Foundations$
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Heather Burnett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198724797

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724797.001.0001

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Context sensitivity and vagueness patterns

Context sensitivity and vagueness patterns

Chapter:
(p.34) 3 Context sensitivity and vagueness patterns
Source:
Gradability in Natural Language
Author(s):

Heather Burnett

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198724797.003.0003

This chapter presents the main empirical patterns associated with adjectival context sensitivity and vagueness. The book argue that the different scale structure classes of adjectives vary with respect to comparison class-based context sensitivity. It is argued that to properly understand this variation, it is useful to adopt two patterns of comparison class-based context sensitivity: universal context sensitivity and existential context sensitivity. The book argues that three of the four scale structure subclasses can be distinguished based on their context sensitivity: relative adjectives are universally context sensitive, both partial and total adjectives are existentially context sensitive, and non-scalars are not context sensitive. This chapter also motivates an empirical connection between vagueness and the scale structure classes. It is shown that the distribution of the puzzling properties of vague language is tied to these lexical class distinctions, and proposed that the observed dependencies argue in favor of a closer relationship between the phenomena of vagueness and scale structure than is often assumed.

Keywords:   Context sensitivity, vagueness, asymmetries, imprecision, Sorites paradox

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