Journal of Logic, Language and Information

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 75–95 | Cite as

A, The, Another: A Game of Same and Different

  • Atle Grønn
  • Kjell Johan SæbøEmail author


Indefinites face competition at two levels: Presupposition and content. The antipresupposition hypothesis predicts that they signal the opposite of familiarity, or uniqueness, namely, novelty, or non-uniqueness. At the level of descriptive content, they are pressured from two sides: definites expressing identity and another phrases expressing difference, and Gricean reasoning predicts that indefinites signal both difference and identity and are infelicitous when definites and another phrases are felicitous. However, occasionally a space opens between the and another, for a to fill. This is in part due to conditions handicapping the or another semantically, in part to another’s phonological handicap. The division of labor between determiners in the field of difference and sameness is thus the result of an intricate competition. We model this competition in a version of game-theoretic pragmatics.


Novelty Definiteness Indefiniteness Sameness and difference Antipresupposition Informativity Competition Game theory 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Abbott B. (2004) Definiteness and indefiniteness. In: Horn L., Ward G. (eds) Handbook of pragmatics. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 122–149Google Scholar
  2. Amsili P., Beyssade C. et al (2010) Obligatory presupposition in discourse. In: Benz A. (ed) Constraints in discourse 2. Benjamins, Amsterdam and Philadelphia, pp 105–124Google Scholar
  3. Asher N. (1987) A typology for attitude verbs and their anaphoric properties. Linguistics and Philosophy 10: 125–197CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barwise J., Cooper R. (1981) Generalized quantifiers and natural language. Linguistics and Philosophy 4: 159–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beck S. (2000) The semantics of different: Comparison operator and relational adjective. Linguistics and Philosophy 23: 101–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Benz A., van Rooij R. (2007) Optimal assertions and what they implicate. Topoi—an International Review of Philosophy 27: 63–78Google Scholar
  7. Blutner R. (1998) Lexical pragmatics. Journal of Semantics 15: 115–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Blutner R. (2007) Optimality theoretic pragmatics and the explicature/implicature distinction. In: Burton-Roberts N. (ed) Advances in pragmatics. Palgrave/MacMillan, Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, pp 67–89Google Scholar
  9. Brasoveanu, A. (2009). Sentence-internal different as quantifier-internal Anaphora. Ms., UC Santa Cruz.Google Scholar
  10. de Jager, T., van Rooij, R. (2007). Explaining quantity implicatures. In: Proceedings of the eleventh conference on theoretical aspects of rationality and knowledge (TARK XI) (pp. 193–202). Bruxelles.Google Scholar
  11. Dekker P. (2002) Meaning and use of indefinite expressions. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 11: 141–194CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dekker P. (2004) The pragmatic dimension of indefinites. Research on Language and Computation 2: 365–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Farkas D. (2002) Varieties of indefinites. In: Jackson B. (ed) Proceedings of SALT 12. CLC Publications, Ithaca, New York, pp 59–83Google Scholar
  14. Farkas D. (2006) The unmarked determiner. In: Vogeleer-Aloushkova S., Tasmowski-de Rijk L. (eds) Non-definites and plurality. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 81–106Google Scholar
  15. Fodor J., Sag I. (1982) Referential and quantificational indefinites. Linguistics and Philosophy 5: 355–400CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Geurts B., Nouwen R. (2007) At least et al.: The semantics of scalar modifiers. Language 83: 533–559CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Hawkins J. (1991) On (in)definite articles: Implicatures and (un)-grammaticality prediction. Journal of Linguistics 27: 405–442CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heim I. (1982) The semantics of definite and indefinite noun phrases. Doctoral dissertation, University of Massachusetts, AmherstGoogle Scholar
  19. Heim I. (1991) Artikel und definitheit. In: von Stechow A., Wunderlich D. (eds) Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research. de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 487–535Google Scholar
  20. Heim, I. (to appear). Definiteness and indefiniteness. T.a. In: von Heusinger, K., Maienborn, C., & Portner, P. (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  21. Heim I., Kratzer A. (1998) Semantics in generative grammar. Blackwell, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  22. Jäger, G. (to appear). Game theory in semantics and pragmatics. T.a. In: von Heusinger, K., Maienborn, C., & Portner, P. (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  23. Kamp H. (2001) Computation and justification of presuppositions: One aspect of the interpretation of multi-sentence discourse. In: Bras M., Vieu L. (eds) Semantics and pragmatics of discourse and dialogue: Experimenting with current theories. Elsevier Science, Oxford, pp 57–84Google Scholar
  24. Krifka M. (2001) Non-novel indefinites in adverbial quantification. In: Condoravdi C., Renardel de Lavalette G. (eds) Logical perspectives on language and information. CSLI Publications, Stanford, pp 1–40Google Scholar
  25. Magri G. (2009) A theory of individual-level predicates based on blind mandatory scalar implicatures. National Language Semantics 17: 245–297CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Percus O. (2006) Antipresuppositions. In: Ueyama A. (ed) Theoretical and empirical studies of reference and anaphora: Toward the establishment of generative grammar as an empirical science. Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Fukuoka, pp 52–73Google Scholar
  27. Roberts C. (2003) Uniqueness in definite noun phrases. Linguistics and Philosophy 26: 287–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Sæbø K. J. (2004) Conversational contrast and conventional parallel: Topic implicatures and additive presuppositions. Journal of Semantics 21: 199–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sauerland Uli (2008) Implicated presuppositions. In: Steube A. (ed) The discourse potential of underspecified structures. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 581–600CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Schlenker P. (2008) Be articulate: A pragmatic theory of presupposition projection. Theoretical Linguistics 34: 157–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schlenker, P. (2011). Maximize presupposition and gricean reasoning manuscript. New York University: Institut Jean-Nicod, CNRS.Google Scholar
  32. Singh R. (2011) Maximize presupposition! and local contexts. Natural Language Semantics 19: 149–168CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Stalnaker R. (1998) On the representation of context. Journal of Logic, Language and Information 7: 3–19CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Stalnaker R. (2002) Common ground. Linguistics and Philosophy 25: 701–721CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. von Fintel K. (1999) NPI licensing, strawson entailment, and context dependency. Journal of Semantics 16: 97–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. von Fintel, K., & Heim, I. (2010). Intensional semantics. Lecturenotes (2010 Edition), MIT.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Oslo, ILOSOsloNorway

Personalised recommendations