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Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 323–362 | Cite as

Always and Only: Why Not All Focus-Sensitive Operators Are Alike

  • David Beaver
  • Brady Clark
Article

Abstract

We discuss focus sensitivity in English, the phenomenon whereby interpretation of some expressions is affected by placement of intonational focus. We concentrate in particular on the interpretation of always and only, both of which are interpreted as universal quantifiers, and both of which are focus sensitive. Using both naturally occurring and constructed data we explore the interaction of these operators with negative polarity items, with presupposition, with prosodically reduced elements, and with syntactic extraction. On the basis of this data we show that while only lexically encodes a dependency on the placement of focus, always does not. Rather, the focus sensitivity of always results from its dependency on context, and from the fact that focus also reflects what is given in the context. We account for this split using an analysis couched in event semantics.

Keywords

Negative Polarity Universal Quantifier Event Semantic Polarity Item Negative Polarity Item 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Beaver
    • 1
  • Brady Clark
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsStanford UniversityStanfordUSA E-mail

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