Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 247–290 | Cite as

Free choice is a form of dependence

  • Magdalena Kaufmann


This paper refutes the widespread view that disjunctions of imperatives invariably grant free choice between the actions named by their disjuncts. Like other disjunctions they can also express a correlation with some factual distinction (fact-dependent reading), but as with modalized declaratives used for non-assertive speech acts this needs to be indicated explicitly. A compositional analysis of one such indicator, depending on, constitutes the point of departure for a uniform analysis of disjunctions across clause types. Disjunctions are analyzed as sets of propositional alternatives that correlate with a partition that the speaker may or may not be able to indicate explicitly. Free choice arises as the specific case where the partition is induced by the preferences of the addressee (understood as necessarily consistent effective preferences/‘goals’).


Disjunctions Free choice Imperatives Strong permission Alternatives 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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