Hurford’s constraint, the semantics of disjunction, and the nature of alternatives
- First Online:
This paper contributes to two recent lines of work on disjunction: on the one hand, work on so-called Hurford disjunctions, i.e., disjunctions where one disjunct entails another, and on the other hand, work in alternative and inquisitive semantics where disjunction has been argued to generate multiple propositional alternatives. We point out that Hurford effects are found not only in disjunctive statements, but also in disjunctive questions. These cases are not covered by the standard accounts of Hurford phenomena, which assume a truth-conditional treatment of disjunction. We show that inquisitive semantics facilitates a unified explanation of Hurford phenomena in statements and questions. We also argue that Hurford effects provide an empirical handle on the subtle differences between inquisitive semantics and alternative semantics, providing insight into the notion of alternatives and the notion of meaning adopted in these two frameworks.
KeywordsHurford disjunctions Inquisitive semantics Alternative semantics Questions Redundancy Exhaustification
- Aloni, M., and I. Ciardelli. 2013. A logical account of free-choice imperatives. In The dynamic, inquisitive, and visionary life of \(\varphi \), \(?\varphi \), and \(\Diamond \varphi \): A festschrift for Jeroen Groenendijk, Martin Stokhof, and Frank Veltman, ed. M. Aloni, M. Franke, and F. Roelofsen, 1–17. Amsterdam: ILLC Publications.Google Scholar
- Alonso-Ovalle, L. 2006. Disjunction in alternative semantics. Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.Google Scholar
- Bartels, C. 1999. The intonation of English statements and questions: A compositional interpretation. New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Chierchia, G., D. Fox, and B. Spector. 2009. Hurford’s constraint and the theory of scalar implicatures: Evidence for embedded implicatures. In Presuppositions and implicatures, ed. P. Egré, and G. Magri, 47–62. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
- Chierchia, G., D. Fox, and B. Spector. 2012. Scalar implicature as a grammatical phenomenon. In Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning, vol. 3, ed. P. Portner, C. Maienborn, and K. von Heusinger, 2297–2331. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Ciardelli, I., and M. Aloni. 2016. Choice-offering imperatives in inquisitive and truth-maker semantics. Presented at ‘Imperatives: worlds and beyond’, Hamburg University, June 2016.Google Scholar
- Ciardelli, I., J. Groenendijk, and F. Roelofsen. 2015. Inquisitive semantics. European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information lecture notes. www.illc.uva.nl/inquisitivesemantics.
- Fox, D. 2007. Free choice disjunction and the theory of scalar implicatures. In Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics, ed. U. Sauerland and P. Stateva, 71–120. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Fox, D., and B. Spector. 2015. Economy and embedded exhaustification. MIT and Institut Jean Nicod: Manuscript.Google Scholar
- Gazdar, G. 1979. Pragmatics: Implicature, presupposition, and logical form. New York, NY: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Hamblin, C.L. 1973. Questions in Montague English. Foundations of Language 10 (1): 41–53.Google Scholar
- Hurford, J. 1974. Exclusive or inclusive disjunction. Foundations of Language 11 (3): 409–411.Google Scholar
- Katzir, R., and R. Singh. 2013. Hurford disjunctions: Embedded exhaustification and structural economy. In Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 18, ed. U. Etxeberria, A. Fălăuş, A. Irurtzun, and B. Leferman, 201–216.Google Scholar
- Meyer, M.-C. 2013. Ignorance and grammar. Ph.D. thesis, MIT.Google Scholar
- Meyer, M.-C. 2014. Deriving Hurford’s constraint. In Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory 24, ed. T. Snider, S. D’Antonio, and M. Weigand, 577–596. LSA and CLC Publications.Google Scholar
- Pruitt, K., and F. Roelofsen. 2011. Disjunctive questions: Prosody, syntax, and semantics. Available via www.illc.uva.nl/inquisitivesemantics: Presented at a seminar at the Georg August Universität Göttingen.
- Roelofsen, F. 2013b. An inquisitive perspective on meaning: The case of disjunction. Stanford Linguistics Colloquium, February 2013.Google Scholar
- Schlenker, P. 2008. Be articulate: A pragmatic theory of presupposition projection. Theoretical Linguistics 34 (3): 157–212.Google Scholar
- Uegaki, W. 2014. Japanese alternative questions are disjunctions of polar questions. In Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory 24, ed. T. Snider, S. D’Antonio, and M. Weigand, 42–62. LSA and CLC Publications.Google Scholar
Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.