Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 26, Issue 3–4, pp 253–279 | Cite as

Factive islands and meaning-driven unacceptability

  • Bernhard SchwarzEmail author
  • Alexandra Simonenko


It is often proposed that the unacceptability of a semantically interpretable sentence can be rooted in its meaning. Elaborating on Oshima (in Washio T, et al (eds) New frontiers in artificial intelligence, Springer, Berlin, 2007), we argue that the meaning-driven unacceptability of factive islands must make reference to felicity conditions, and cannot be reduced to the triviality of propositional content. We also observe, again elaborating on Oshima, that the triviality of factive islands need not be logical, but can be relative to a listener’s background assumptions. These findings call for a revision of a prevalent view about meaning-driven unacceptability, according to which unacceptability results from triviality that is both propositional and logical.


Factive islands Questions Unacceptability Triviality Felicity conditions Presuppositions Uniqueness 


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Department of LinguisticsResearch Foundation Flanders (FWO)/Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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