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Disjunction and Implicatures: Some Notes on Recent Developments

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Contrastiveness in Information Structure, Alternatives and Scalar Implicatures

Part of the book series: Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory ((SNLT,volume 91))

Abstract

The paper considers three features of disjunction that played a role in recent discussions relating to the question of whether implicature computation is pragmatic and global or grammatical and local: Hurford’s constraint, free choice inferences, and the mutual exclusivity of double disjunctions. The paper argues that both Hurford’s constraint data and the free choice phenomena are consistent with a pragmatic, global approach to scalar implicatures if it is enriched with a lexical repair strategy. Furthermore to derive the mutual exclusivity of double disjunctions, a global approach taking scope over both disjuncts is necessary, since I show that local computation of scalar implicatures within on of the disjuncts would make wrong predictions. I conclude therefore that in the absence of other arguments for a grammatical approach, the pragmatic global account provides a better explanation.

This paper was originally written up in 2009 and parts of it were presented at PARC in Palo Alto, California, and the Semantics Research Group at the University of Tokyo. I am very grateful for their helpful comments to the audiences at both venues and also to Ezra Keshet and Chungmin Lee. Since 2009, I have done more work on the comparison of pragmatic and grammatical approaches to scalar implicatures, and my more recent results speak against the pragmatic and in favor of the grammatical approach (see Sauerland 2011, 2014). This is consistent with the results in this paper since the convincing evidence comes from more complex examples than those considered here.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For example, T may defined as the set of scalar alternatives of S, i.e. those expressions derivable from S by replacement of scalar expressions with the alternatives. Or it may denote the subset of contextually relevant scalar alternatives.

  2. 2.

    Note that while this case is discussed in the 2004 paper, the exposition there is actually erroneous.

  3. 3.

    I am not considering in this paper a second class of examples with implicatures where the local implicatures may represent a strengthening of the global implicature since these are not directly linked to disjunction. See Sauerland (2004a), Russell (2006) and Geurts (2009) for discussion.

  4. 4.

    The sentence also has a dispreferred second reading where it can be followed by I don’t know which and the free choice effect is absent. I assume with the literature on the topic that this is a case of ambiguity and don’t deal with this reading in the following.

  5. 5.

    I put aside here the question whether this effect arises with indefinites to and how general it is.

  6. 6.

    One consequence of this is that higher order exhaustification always lives on the partition of logical space introduced by the elements of T. i.e. if two worlds occupy the same cell of this partition, no higher order exhaustification of will distinguish between the two worlds. This entails that if T is finite, at some level n of higher order exhaustification of level n, level \(n+1\) and any greater level will be equivalent.

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Sauerland, U. (2017). Disjunction and Implicatures: Some Notes on Recent Developments. In: Lee, C., Kiefer, F., Krifka, M. (eds) Contrastiveness in Information Structure, Alternatives and Scalar Implicatures. Studies in Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, vol 91. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10106-4_12

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10106-4_12

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