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Regular version of the site
Of all publications in the section: 3
by name
by year
Ivlieva N. Journal of Semantics. 2020. Vol. 37. No. 3. P. 425-454.

Following a recent discussion in Fox and Spector 2018, this paper provides an argument for a

particular view of the theory of scalar implicatures and exhaustification where exhaustification

is only allowed if it alters the overall sentence meaning without weakening it.

I show that this idea is helpful to make sense of the so-called dependent plural imterpreta-

tions, addressed within the theory of scalar implicatures in Zweig 2009 (see also Zweig 2008).

Even though Zweig’s account is based on insightful and plausible assumptions (most crucially,

the idea that the multiplcity component of the meaning of plurals is a scalar implicature), it

ultimately fails to derive dependent plural readings. The main reason for this is the use of the

Strongest Candidate Principle of Chierchia 2006 that happens to filter out the needed interpreta-

tion. Replacing the Strongest Candidate Principle with a weaker constraint on exhaustification

along the lines of Fox and Spector 2018 resolves the issue, while keeping most of Zweig’s insights


Added: Oct 28, 2019
Bylinina L., Podobryaev A. Journal of Semantics. 2020. Vol. 37. No. 1. P. 117-128.

In a variety of languages, plural DPs like books systematically show non-singularity inferences

in some contexts, but not in others. 

Competition-based theories of plurality derive non-singularity inferences from reasoning about

the meaning of the plural form against its singular alternative (Sauerland, 2003; Spector, 2007;

Zweig, 2009). A parallel claim has been made about the meaning of singular DPs { in particular,

that the non-plurality inferences that singular forms come with (= strictly atomic

interpretations) are the result of competition with a plural alternative. This has been suggested

for languages with a landscape of nominal number quite dierent from English (Western

Armenian, Bale and Khanjian 2014) { and for English as well (Farkas and de Swart, 2010).

Competition theories of number face a number of criticisms. First, it's been noticed that

plurality inferences can arise even in the absence of a relevant singular alternative in the language

(Magri, 2011; Ivlieva and Sudo, 2015; Sudo, 2017). Second, the mechanism constraining

the alternatives that play a role in competition-based meaning enrichments in general (including

number) is also currently under debate. In particular, the implementation of a general theory

of competition-based enrichments which refers to the structural complexity of alternatives as

a constraining mechanism (Katzir, 2007; Fox and Katzir, 2011) has recently been challenged

(Swanson, 2010; Romoli, 2013; Trinh and Haida, 2015).

We will not try to provide an overview of this debate (see Breheny et al. 2018) or argue for

any particular theory. Our goal is more modest. We describe nominal number in a language

with two kinds of semantically number-neutral DPs, only one of which can ever be strengthened.

As it turns out, the size of the projection of those DPs which cannot be strengthened is smaller

than the size of those that can. We take the very existence of such a language { here, Buriat { to

be an argument in favor of a competition-based analysis of number inferences, where structural

complexity is a factor in how alternatives are constrained.

Added: Oct 28, 2019
van Tiel B., van Miltenburg E., Zevakhina N. et al. Journal of Semantics. 2016. No. 33 (1). P. 137-175.

We present experimental evidence showing that there is considerable variation between the rates at which scalar expressions from different lexical scales give rise to upper-bounded construals. We investigated two factors that might explain the variation between scalar expressions: first, the availability of the lexical scales, which we measured on the basis of association strength, grammatical class, word frequencies and semantic relatedness, and, secondly, the distinctness of the scalemates, which we operationalized on the basis of semantic distance and boundedness. It was found that only the second factor had a significant effect on the rates of scalar inferences.

Added: Dec 27, 2014