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Logic in GrammarPolarity, Free Choice, and Intervention$
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Gennaro Chierchia

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697977

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697977.001.0001

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Scalar Implicatures at the Interface between Pragmatics and Syntax

Scalar Implicatures at the Interface between Pragmatics and Syntax

(p.86) 2 Scalar Implicatures at the Interface between Pragmatics and Syntax
Logic in Grammar

Gennaro Chierchia

Oxford University Press

Chapter 2 characterizes Free Choice Disjunction (FCD), i.e. the behavior of disjunction (and plain indefinites) under modals. This is a well known phenomenon whereby a sentence of the form possible (p or q) winds up unexpectedly being interpreted as possible and possible q. It is argued that such a phenomenon bears the hallmark of Scalar Implicatures (SIs). Gricean theories of SIs and some of their limitations are reviewed. A novel approach is presented, based on the idea that SIs come about via a covert counterpart of only (‘exhaustification’) that operates on grammatically determined alternatives, and is subject to a principle of ‘Maximize Sternght/Informativity’. Then a version of the theory of FCD by D. Fox is articulated, that derives the FC effect through recursive exhaustification of subdomain alternatives. This approach to FCD provides independent motivation for the thesis that polarity phenomena are related to the activation of subdomain alternatives by indefinites, put forth in Chapter 1. It is proposed that covert only (O) targets alternative bearers in its domain, much like wh-words are targeted by interrogative complementizers, an idea that is implemented via a feature checking mechanism. O assign ‘+’ to alternative bearers in its domain, thereby making their alternatives active. In absence of O, alternative bearers get a default value ‘-‘, and their alternatives remain inactive. This sets the stage for an integrated theory of polarity sensitivity and free choice.

Keywords:   Scalar implicatures, Horn scales, Free Choice disjunction, maximize strength, Gricean maxims, covert exhaustification, feature checking, innocent exclusion, type theory and intensional logic, relevance and context

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