Contextual blindness in implicature computation

Abstract

In this paper, I defend a grammatical account of scalar implicatures. In particular, I submit new evidence in favor of the contextual blindness principle, assumed in recent versions of the grammatical account. I argue that mismatching scalar implicatures can be generated even when the restrictor of the universal quantifier in a universal alternative is contextually known to be empty. The crucial evidence consists of a hitherto unnoticed oddness asymmetry between formally analogous existential sentences with reference failure NPs. I conclude that the generation of mismatching scalar implicatures does not require contextual access.

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Pistoia-Reda, S. Contextual blindness in implicature computation. Nat Lang Semantics 25, 109–124 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11050-016-9131-6

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Keywords

  • Scalar implicature
  • Contextual knowledge
  • Oddness
  • Asymmetric entailment