Advertisement

Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 353–407 | Cite as

Number-neutral bare plurals and the multiplicity implicature

  • Eytan Zweig
Research Article

Abstract

Bare plurals (dogs) behave in ways that quantified plurals (some dogs) do not. For instance, while the sentence John owns dogs implies that John owns more than one dog, its negation John does not own dogs does not mean “John does not own more than one dog”, but rather “John does not own a dog”. A second puzzling behavior is known as the dependent plural reading; when in the scope of another plural, the ‘more than one’ meaning of the plural is not distributed over, but the existential force of the plural is. For example, My friends attend good schools requires that each of my friends attend one good school, not more, while at the same time being inappropriate if all my friends attend the same school. This paper shows that both these phenomena, and others, arise from the same cause. Namely, the plural noun itself does not assert ‘more than one’, but rather the plural denotes a predicate that is number neutral (unspecified for cardinality). The ‘more than one’ meaning arises as an scalar implicature, relying on the scalar relationship between the bare plural and its singular alternative, and calculated in a sub-sentential domain; namely, before existential closure of the event variable. Finally, implications of this analysis will be discussed for the analysis of the quantified noun phrases that interact with bare plurals, such as indefinite numeral DPs (three boys), and singular universals (every boy).

Keywords

Bare plurals Dependent plurals Scalar implicature Events 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Bayer, S. L. (1996). Confessions of a lapsed neo-Davidsonian: Events and arguments in compositional semantics. New York and London: Garland Publishing, INC. (Published 1997).Google Scholar
  2. Beck, S. (2000). Star operators. Episode 1: Defense of the double star. In UMOP 23: Issues in semantics (pp. 1–23). Amherst: GLSA.Google Scholar
  3. Bosveld-de Smet, L. (1998). On mass and plural quantification: The case of French des/du NPs. Ph.D. thesis, University of Groningen.Google Scholar
  4. Brisson C.M. (2003) Plurals, all and the nonuniformity of collective predication. Linguistics and Philosophy 26: 129–184CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carlson, G. N. (1977). Reference to kinds in English. New York and London: Garland Publishing, INC. (Published 1980).Google Scholar
  6. Chierchia G. (1998) Reference to kinds across languages. Natural Language Semantics 6: 339–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chierchia, G. (2004). Scalar implicatures, polarity phenomena, and the syntax/pragmatics interface. In A. Belletti (Ed.), Structures and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford UP.Google Scholar
  8. Chierchia G. (2006) Broaden your views: Implications of domain widening and the “logicality” of language. Linguistic Inquiry 37: 535–590CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chierchia, G., Fox, D., & Spector, B. (to Appear). The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In P. Portner, C. Maienborn, & K. von Heusinger (Eds.), Handbook of semantics. berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  10. Chomsky N. (1975) Questions of form and interpretation. In: Austerlitz R. (eds) Scope of American Linguistics. The Peter De Ridder Press, Lisse, pp 159–196Google Scholar
  11. Condoravdi, C. (1992). Strong and weak novelty and familiarity. In Proceedings of the Second Conference on Semantics and linguistic theory (pp 17–37). Columbus: Ohio State UniversityGoogle Scholar
  12. de Mey, S. (1981). The dependant plural and the analysis of tense. In V. A. Burke & J. Pustejowsky (Eds.): Proceedings of NELS 11. Amherst, GLSA, University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  13. de Swart H. (2006) Aspectual implications of the semantics of plural indefinites. In: Vogeleer S., Tasmowski L. (eds) Non-definiteness and Plurality. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 161–189Google Scholar
  14. Dowty D. et al (1986) Collective predicates, distributive predicates and all. In: Marshall F. (eds) Proceedings of ESCOL 86. Ohio State University, Columbus, pp 97–113Google Scholar
  15. Farkas D.F. (2006) The Unmarked Determiner. In: Vogeleer S., Tasmowski L. (eds) Non-definiteness and Plurality. John Benjamins, Amsterdam, pp 81–105Google Scholar
  16. Ferreira, M. (2007). Scope Splitting and Cumulativity. In R. Nouwen & J. Dotlačil (Eds.), Proceedings of the workshop on quantifier modification, ESSLLI 2007. UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  17. Gazdar G. (1979) Pragmatics: Implicature, presupposition, and logical form. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  18. Gillon B.S. (1987) The readings of plural noun phrases in English. Linguistics and Philosophy 10: 199–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Grice, H.P. (1975). Logic and conversation. In P. Cole & J. L. Morgan (Eds.), Syntax and semantics: Speech acts, (Vol. 3, pp. 41–58). New York: Academic Press (from the William James lectures, Harvard University, 1967).Google Scholar
  20. Gualmini, A., Crain, S., Meroni, L., Chierchia, G., & Guasti, M. T. (2001). At the semantics/pragmatics interface in child language. In Proceedings of SALT 11. Ithaca, NY: CLC Publications, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  21. Guerts B. (2009) Scalar implicatures and local pragmatics. Mind and Language 24: 51–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heim, I. (1991). Artikel und Definitheit. In A. von Stechow & D. Wunderlich (Eds.), Semantik: Ein internationales Handbuch der zeitgenossischen Forschung (pp. 487–535). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  23. Hoeksema J. (1988) The semantics of non-Boolean ‘and’. Journal of Semantics 6: 19–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Horn, L. R. (1972). On the semantic properties of logical operators in English. Ph.D. thesis, UCLA.Google Scholar
  25. Horn L.R. (2004) Implicature. In: Horn L.R., Ward G. (eds) The handbook of pragmatics. Blackwell, Oxford, pp 3–28Google Scholar
  26. Horn L.R. (2005) The border wars—a neo-Gricean perspective. In: von Heusinger K., Turner K. (eds) Where semantics meets pragmatics. Elsevier, Amsterdam, pp 21–48Google Scholar
  27. Kamp H., Reyle U. (1993) From discourse to logic: Introduction to modeltheoretic semantics of natural language, formal logic and discource representation theory. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  28. Kouider S., Halberda J., Wood J., Carey S. (2006) Acquisition of English number marking: The Singular-plural Distinction. Language Learning and Development 2(1): 1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Kratzer A. (1980) Die Analyse des blossen Plurals bei Gregory Carlson. Linguistiche Berichte 70: 47–50Google Scholar
  30. Krifka, M. (2004). Bare NPs: Kind-referring, indefinites, both, or neither? In Proceedings of SALT 13. Ithica, NY: CLC Publications, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  31. Landman F. (2000) Events and plurality: The Jerusalem lectures. Kluwer, DordrechtGoogle Scholar
  32. le Bruyn, B. (2005). Bare plurals: A unifying analysis for English, French and Spanish. Ms., UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  33. Link G. (1987) Generalized quantifiers and plurals. In: Gärdenfors P. (eds) Generalized quantifiers. Reidel, Dordrecht, pp 151–180Google Scholar
  34. Link G. (1998) Algebraic semantics in language and philosophy. CSLI Publications, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  35. May R. (1985) Logical form: Its structure and derivation. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  36. McKay T.J. (2006) Plural predication. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Müller, A. (2001). Genericity and the denotation of common nouns in Brazilian Portugese. In A. Weeler & J.-Y. Kim (Eds.), UMOP 25: Proceedings of SULA (pp. 72–80). Amherst, MA: GLSA.Google Scholar
  38. Noveck I. (2001) When children are more logical than adults: experimental investigations of scalar implicature. Cognition 78: 165–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Papafragou A., Musolino J. (2003) Scalar implicatures: experiments at the semantics-pragmatics interface. Cognition 86: 253–282CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Partee, B. H. (1975). Comments on C.J. Fillmore’s and N. Chomsky’s papers. In Scope of American Linguistics (pp. 197–209). Lisse: The Peter De Ridder Press.Google Scholar
  41. Partee, B. H. (1985). “Dependent plurals” are distinct from bare plurals. Ms., University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  42. Roberts C. (1990) Modal subordination, anaphora, and distributivity. Garland Publishing, INC, New York and LondonGoogle Scholar
  43. Roodenburg, J. (2004). Pour une approche scalaire de la déficience nominale: La position du français dans une téorie des “noms nus”. Ph.D. thesis, Amsterdam/Paris.Google Scholar
  44. Russell B. (2006) Against grammatical computation of scalar implicatures. Journal of Semantics 23: 361–382CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Sadock J.M. (1978) On testing for conversational implicature. In: Cole P. (eds) Syntax and semantics Vol 9: Pragmatics. Academic Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  46. Sauerland, U., Anderssen, J., & Yatsushiro K. (2005). The plural is semantically unmarked. In S. Kesper & M. Reis (Eds.), Linguistic Evidence. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  47. Schein B. (1993) Plurals and events. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  48. Schwarzschild R. (1992) Types of plural individuals. Linguistics and Philosophy 15: 641–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sher G. (1990) Ways of branching quantifiers. Linguistics and Philosophy 13: 393–422CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Spector, B. (2003). Plural indefinite DPs as PLURAL-polarity items. In J. Quer, J. Schroten, M. Scorretti, P. Sleeman, & E. Verheugd (Eds.), Romance languages and linguistic theory 2001: Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: J. Benjamins.Google Scholar
  51. Spector B. (2007) Aspects of the pragmatics of plural morphology: on higher-order implicatures. In: Sauerland U., Stateva P. (eds) Presupposition and Implicature in Compositional Semantics. New York, NY, Palgrave-Macmillan, pp 243–281Google Scholar
  52. Winter Y. (2001) Flexibility principles in Boolean semantics. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  53. Zweig, E. (2008). Dependent plurals and plural meaning. Ph.D. thesis, New York University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Language and Linguistic ScienceUniversity of YorkHeslington, YorkUK

Personalised recommendations