(Partially) Free choice of alternatives

Abstract

This paper contributes to the semantic typology of dependent indefinites, by accounting for the distribution and interpretation of the Romanian indefinite vreun. It is shown that its occurrences are restricted to negative polarity and a subset of modal contexts. More specifically, the study of its behavior in intensional environments reveals that vreun is systematically incompatible with non-epistemic operators, a restriction we capture by proposing a novel empirical generalization (‘the epistemic constraint’). To account for the observed pattern, we adopt the unitary approach to polarity in Chierchia (Logic in Grammar: polarity, free choice and intervention, 2013a; in: Fălăuş (ed.) Alternatives in semantics, 2013b) and derive the properties of vreun from its obligatory association with alternatives. Its distributional restrictions are argued to follow from the interplay between the types of alternatives it activates (scalar and subdomain alternatives), the way these alternatives are factored into meaning (via an independently motivated mechanism of exhaustification) and the lexical semantics of the operators in the context of occurrence. We propose that the epistemic constraint arises from the lexicalization of an inference (anti-total variation) that non-epistemic operators can never satisfy.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  1. Aloni, M. (2007). Free choice, modals and imperatives. Natural Language Semantics, 15, 65–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Aloni, M., & Franke, M. (2013). On the free choice potential of epistemic and deontic modals. In I. Caponigro & C. Cecchetto (Eds.), From grammar to meaning: the spontaneous logicality of language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Aloni, M., & Port, A. (2010). Epistemic indefinites crosslinguistically. In Proceedings of NELS 41.

  4. Aloni, M., & van Rooij, R. (2007). Free choice items and alternatives. In G. Bouma, I. Kraemer, & J. Zwarts (Eds.), Proceedings of the KNAW academy colloquium: Cognitive foundations of interpretation (pp. 5–26). Amsterdam: Edita KNAW.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Alonso-Ovalle, L. (2005). Distributing the disjuncts over the modal space. In L. Baterman & C. Ussery (Eds.), Proceedings of the North East Linguistic Society (Vol. 35, pp. 1–12). Amherst, MA: GLSA.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Alonso-Ovalle, L., & Menéndez-Benito, P. (2008). Minimal domain widening. In N. Abner & J. Bishop (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics (pp. 36–44). Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Alonso-Ovalle, L., & Menéndez-Benito, P. (2010). Modal indefinites. Natural Language Semantics, 18(1), 1–31.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Alonso-Ovalle, L., & Menéndez-Benito, P. (2013). Two views on epistemic indefinites. Language and Linguistics Compass, 7(2), 105–122.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Anand, P., & Hacquard, V. (2013). Epistemics and attitudes. Semantics and Pragmatics, 6(8), 1–59.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Braşoveanu, A. (2006). Temporal and propositional De Se: Evidence from Romanian Subjunctive mood. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, 10, 55–70.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Braşoveanu, A., & Farkas, D. (2007). Say reports, assertion events and meaning dimensions. In G. Alboiu, A. Avram, L. Avram, & D. Isac (Eds.), Pitar Moş: A Building with a View. Papers in Honour of Alexandra Cornilescu. Bucharest: Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti.

  12. Chemla, E. (2009). Universal implicatures and free choice effects: Experimental data. Semantics and Pragmatics, 2, 1–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Chierchia, G. (2006). Broaden your views. Implicatures of domain widening and the spontaneous logicality of language. Linguistic Inquiry, 37(4), 535–590.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Chierchia, G. (2013a). Logic in Grammar: Polarity, free choice and intervention. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Chierchia, G. (2013b). FC nominals and FC disjunction: the identity thesis. In A. Fălăuş (Ed.), Alternatives in semantics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  16. Chierchia, G., Fox, D., & Spector, B. (2012). The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In C. Maienborn, K. von Heusinger, & P. Portner (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  17. Condoravdi, C. (2005). Not knowing or caring who. Manuscript, PARC and Stanford University.

  18. Crnič, L. (2011). Getting even. Ph.D. dissertation. MIT.

  19. Dayal, V. (1997). Free relatives and ever: Identity and free choice readings. In A. Lawson (Ed.), Proceedings of SALT VII (pp. 99–116). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.

    Google Scholar 

  20. Dayal, V. (1998). Any as inherently modal. Linguistics and Philosophy, 21, 433–476.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Dayal, V. (2004). The universal force of free choice any. Linguistic Variation Yearbook, 4(1), 5–40.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Dayal, V. (2009). Variation in English free choice items. In R. Mohanty & M. Menon (Eds.), Universals and variation: Proceedings of GLOW in Asia VII (pp. 237–256). Hyderabad: EFL University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Dayal, V. (2013). A viability constraint on alternatives for free choice. In A. Fălăuş (Ed.), Alternatives in Semantics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  24. Farkas, D. (2002). Extreme non-specificity in Romanian. In C. Beyssade, et al. (Eds.), Romance languages and linguistic theory 2000 (pp. 127–153). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Farkas, D. (2006). Free choice in Romanian. In B. Birner & G. Ward (Eds.), Drawing the boundaries of meaning (pp. 71–94). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  25. Fauconnier, G. (1975). Pragmatic scales and logical structure. Linguistic Inquiry, 6, 353-375.

    Google Scholar 

  26. Fălăuş, A. (2009). Polarity items and dependent indefinites in Romanian. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Nantes.

  27. Fălăuş, A. (2010). Alternatives as sources of semantic dependency. In N. Li & D. Lutz (Eds.), Proceedings of SALT 20 (pp. 406–427). eLanguage.

  28. Fălăuş, A. (2012). On alternatives in imperatives: The case of Romanian vreun. In A. Aguilar, A. Chernilovskaya, & R. Nouwen (Eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 16 (pp. 239–252). Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.

  29. Fălăuş, A. (2013). Introduction: Alternatives in semantics and pragmatics. In A. Fălăuş (Ed.), Alternatives in semantics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  30. Fălăuş, A. (To appear). Romanian epistemic indefinites. In L. Alonso-Ovalle & P. Menéndez-Benito (Eds.), Epistemic indefinites. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  31. von Fintel, K. (1993). Exceptive constructions. Natural Language Semantics, 1, 123–148.

  32. von Fintel, K. (1999). NPI-licensing, Strawson-entailment, and context dependency. Journal of Semantics, 16, 97–148.

    Google Scholar 

  33. von Fintel, K. (2000). Whatever. In B. Jackson & T. Matthews (Eds.), Proceedings from Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT 10) (pp. 27–39). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University.

  34. von Fintel, K., & Gillies, A. (2010). Must...stay...strong! Natural Language Semantics, 18(4), 353–381.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Fox, D. (2007). Free choice disjunction and the theory of scalar implicatures. In U. Sauerland & P. Stateva (Eds.), Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics (pp. 71–120). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Gajewski, J. (2002). L-analyticity and natural language. Manuscript, MIT.

  37. Gajewski, J. (2011). Licensing strong NPIs. Natural Language Semantics, 19, 109–148.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  38. Giannakidou, A. (1997). The landscape of polarity items, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Groningen.

  39. Giannakidou, A. (2011). Negative and positive polarity items: Licensing, compositionality and variation. In C. Maienborn, K. von Heusinger, & P. Portner (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  40. Giannakidou, A., & Quer, J. (2011). Free choice and referential vagueness in Spanish, Catalan and Greek. Manuscript.

  41. Guerzoni, E., & Sharvit, Y. (2007). A question of strength: On NPIs in interrogative clauses. Linguistics and Philosophy, 30, 361–391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Hacquard, V. (2006). Aspects of modality. Ph.D. Dissertation, MIT.

  43. Haspelmath, M. (1997). Indefinite pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Heim, I. (1992). Presupposition projection and the semantics of attitude verbs. Journal of Semantics, 9, 183–221.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. Hoeksema, J. (1999). Blocking effects in the expression of negation. Leuvense Bijdragen/Leuven Contributions in Linguistics and Philology, 88–3(4), 403–423.

    Google Scholar 

  46. Horn, L. (2001). A natural history of negation (2nd ed.). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Iordăchioaia, G. (2009). Negative concord with negative quantifiers: A polyadic quantifier approach to Romanian negative concord. Ph.D Dissertation, University of Tübingen.

  48. Irimia, M. (2010). Some remarks on the evidential nature of the Romanian presumptive. In R. Bok-Bennema, B. Kampers-Manhe, & B. Hollebrandse (Eds.), Romance languages and linguistic theory 2008 (pp. 125–144). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Jayez, J., & Tovena, L. (2006). Epistemic determiners. Journal of Semantics, 23, 217–250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Jayez, J., & Tovena, L. (2007). Evidentiality and determination. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, 12, 271–286.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Kadmon, N., & Landman, F. (1993). Any. Linguistics and Philosophy, 16, 353–422.

  52. Kaufmann, M. (2012). Interpreting imperatives. New York: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  53. Kratzer, A. (1981). The notional category of modality. In H. Eikmeyer & H. Rieser (Eds.), Words, worlds, and context. Berlin: De Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Kratzer, A. (1991). Modality. In A. von Stechow & D. Wunderlich (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of contemporary research (pp. 639–650). Berlin: De Gruyter.

    Google Scholar 

  55. Kratzer, A. (2005). Indefinites and the operators they depend on: from Japanese to Salish. In G. Carlson & F. Jeffry Pelletier (Eds.), Reference and quantification. The Partee effect (pp. 113–142). Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.

  56. Kratzer, A., & Shimoyama, J. (2002). Indeterminate pronouns: The view from Japanese. In Y. Otso (Ed.), Proceedings of the third Tokyo conference on psycholinguistics. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.

    Google Scholar 

  57. Krifka, M. (1995). The semantics and pragmatics of polarity items. Linguistic Analysis, 25, 209–257.

    Google Scholar 

  58. Krifka, M. (2006). Association with focus phrases. In V. Molnar & S. Winkler (Eds.), The architecture of focus (pp. 105–136). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

  59. Ladusaw, W. (1979). Polarity sensitivity as inherent scope relations. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Texas at Austin. (Reproduced by the IULC, 1980.)

  60. Lahiri, U. (1998). Focus and negative polarity in Hindi. Natural Language Semantics, 6, 57–123.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Lauer, S. (2010). Some news on irgendein and algún. Paper presented at the Workshop on Epistemic Indefinites, Göttingen, June 2010.

  62. Linebarger, M. (1980). The grammar of negative polarity. Ph.D. Dissertation, MIT.

  63. Matthewson, L., Rullmann, H., & Davis, H. (2007). Evidentials as epistemic modals: Evidence from St’át’imcets. Linguistic Variation Yearbook, 7, 201–254.

    Google Scholar 

  64. Menéndez-Benito, P. (2005). The grammar of choice. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

  65. Nicolae, A. (2013). Any questions? Polarity as a window into the structure of questions. Ph.D. Dissertation, Harvard University.

  66. Pereltsvaig, A. (2004). Negative polarity items in Russian and the “Bagel Problem”. In A. Przepiorkowski & S. Brown (Eds.), Negation in Slavic. Bloomington: Slavica Publishers.

    Google Scholar 

  67. Rawlins, K. (2008). (Un)Conditionals: An investigation in the syntax and semantics of conditional structures. PhD dissertation, UCSC.

  68. van Rooij, R., & Schulz, K. (2006). Pragmatic meaning and non-monotonic reasoning: The case of exhaustive interpretation. Linguistics and Philosophy, 29(2), 205–250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  69. Rooth, M. (1985). Association with focus. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

  70. Rooth, M. (1992). A theory of focus interpretation. Natural Language Semantics, 1, 75–116.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Sauerland, U. (2004). Scalar implicatures in complex sentences. Linguistics and Philosophy, 27, 367–391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Săvescu-Ciucivara, O. (2007). Oarecare indefinites are not just any indefinites. In G. Alboiu, A. Avram, L. Avram, & D. Isac (Eds.), Pitar Moş: A Building with a View. Papers in Honour of Alexandra Cornilescu (pp. 205–225). Bucharest: Editura Universității din București.

  73. Scheffler, T. (2008). Semantic operators in different dimensions, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Pennsylvania.

  74. van Tiel, B. (2011). Universal free choice? In A. Aguilar, A. Chernilovskaya, & R. Nouwen (Eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 16 (pp. 627–638). Cambridge, MA: MIT Working Papers in Linguistics.

  75. Veltman, F. (1996). Defaults in update semantics. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 25, 22–261.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Vendler, Z. (1967). Each and every, any and all. Linguistics in Philosophy. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  77. Yalcin, S. (2007) Epistemic modals. Mind, 116, 983–1026.

  78. Zamparelli, R. (2007). On singular existential quantifier in Italian. In I. Comorovski & K. von Heusinger (Eds.), Existence: Semantics and syntax (pp. 293–328). Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  79. Zwarts, F. (1998). Three types of polarity. In F. Hamm & E. Hinrichs (Eds.), Plural quantification. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anamaria Fălăuş.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Fălăuş, A. (Partially) Free choice of alternatives. Linguist and Philos 37, 121–173 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10988-014-9146-8

Download citation

Keywords

  • Polarity sensitivity
  • Epistemic indefinites
  • Free choice
  • Alternatives
  • Exhaustification