MIT Working Papers in Linguistics #60

Presuppositions and Implicatures: Proceedings of the MIT-Paris Workshop

ed. Paul Égré and Giorgio Magri, 2009

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Marta Abrusan (Institut Jean Nicod) Resolving Conflicts: Focus Particles and Free Choice Indefinites in Hungarian free choice indefinites, scalar particles, exhaustivity

ABSTRACT: This paper presents an analysis of the Hungarian free-choice indefinite akárki 'anyone'. It is observed that akárki is composed of a special type of focus particle akár 'even' which itself, in its focus-particle existence has a free-choice-like distribution, and of a wh-indefinite. To account for the special properties of akár 'even', it is argued that akár is composed of even plus an Exhaustive Operator (O). As the additive presupposition of even and the lexical meaning of the Exhaustive Operator are contradictory, this combination results in ungrammaticality, unless a suitable operator (e.g. an existential modal or a DE operator) intervenes. In the second part of the paper it is shown that the core distribution of free choice indefinites in Hungarian simply follows from the meaning of the incorporated akár. The universal-like meaning of free choice items arises as an inference from the combination of the standard existential additive presupposition and the universal scalar presupposition.

Claire Beyssade (Institut Jean Nicod) Exclamation and presupposition exclamative sentences, presupposition, implicature, projection, assertive content

ABSTRACT: The aim of this paper is to argue, contra the literature, that exclamative sentences aren't presupposition triggers. We try to apply to exclamative sentences the traditional tests which allow to check whether a content is presupposed or not, and show that they fail. We propose other tests, based on discourse relations, and show that they also fail. Nevertheless, exclamative sentences convey a specific content that is related to their declarative counterpart, and which is probably an implicature, comparable to what Potts analyses as an expressive content.

Emmanuel Chemla (LSCP and MIT) An Anti-Introduction to Presuppositions Presupposition, scalar implicature, pragmatic inferences

ABSTRACT: This note is a provocative look into presupposition. My first goal is to show that many usual diagnoses of presupposition are inconclusive. More tentatively, I discuss theoretical consequences of these results. I argue for 1) a continuum of inferences between (and within) presupposition and scalar implicatures and 2) a modular architecture of the theory of presupposition.

Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard University), Danny Fox (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Benjamin Spector (Harvard University and Institut Jean Nicod) Hurtford's Constraint and the Theory of Scalar Implicatures: Evidence for Embedded Implicatures Scalar Implicatures, Embedded Implicatures, Disjunction, Hurford's Constraint, Exhaustivity, Alternatives

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the proposal made by Hurford that a disjunction is ill-formed if one of the disjuncts entails the other. We argue that this constraint is correct, despite a counter-proposal made by Gazdar, and that its correctness demands a theory of scalar implicatures that would allow them to be computed in embedded positions. The arguments are based on an investigation of the predictions made for the ordinary semantic value and for the implicatures of sentences that involve apparent violations of Hurford's constraint.

Ambros Domingo (LOGOS ' Logic, Language and Cognition Research Group) A Gap in Accounting for Presuppositions Presupposition, implicature, what is said, what is implicated

ABSTRACT: As speakers, we use sentences and utter them in order to communicate our thoughts. As audience, we hear other people's utterances and from them we try to work out what speakers want to communicate to us. That we can do this is a fact, for we do it constantly. Being things as they are, it seems possible to find a rule that tells us how to systematically obtain what is communicated by means of a particular utterance in a given context. In this paper, focusing on presuppositions, I argue that this perfect systematic account is not going to arise. The possibility of a gap between what such a rule yields and what the speaker presupposes and intends to communicate will always remain.

Paul Egre (Institut Jean Nicod) Question Embedding Factivity factivity, veridicality, embedded questions, interrogative complements, complement selection, whether- complements, that-complements, propositional attitude verbs

ABSTRACT: The present paper examines the hypothesis, originally put forward by Hintikka, that the only verbs that can take both that-complements and whether- complements are the factive verbs. I argue that at least one half of the hypothesis is empirically correct, namely that all veridical attitude verbs taking that-complements take whether-complements. I distinguish veridical verbs from factive verbs, and present one way of deriving the generalization. Counterexamples to both directions of the factivity hypothesis are discussed, in particular the case of emotive factive verbs like regret, and the case of non-veridical verbs that licence whether-complements, in particular tell, guess, decide and agree.

Danny Fox (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Roni Katzir (Cornell University) A note on the Characterization of Alternatives for Implicature and Focus Implicatures, Only, Alternatives, Focus, Relevance, Contextual Restriction

ABSTRACT: This paper argues for a constraint on contextual restriction. Specifically, it is argued that when focus sensitive operators quantify over a set of alternatives, context cannot break symmetry, i.e. it cannot prune alternatives from the set that can be derived from remaining members by Boolean operations. This constraint is shown to follow from a fairly natural closure assumption on Relevance, which, in turn, is assumed to be the operating mechanism behind contextual restriction. Furthermore, the constraint requires an alternative theory of focus. We sketch an outline for such a theory and argue that this new theory can also derive the appropriate alternatives for the computation of Scalar Implicatures, thus allowing us to view this computation as a special case of association with focus.

Bart Geurts (University of Nijmegen), Nausicaa Pouscoulous (University College London) No scalar inferences under embedding conversational implicatures, scalar inferences, embedded implicatures

ABSTRACT: We present three experimental studies showing that localist theories of scalar inference are wrong and the Gricean theory is right. The first two experiments used an inference task to explore upper-bounding inferences associated with scalar expressions occurring in the scope of various operators. The main finding of these experiments was that scalar inferences plummeted in embedding conditions, though the drop was less steep with embedding under "think" than in the other embedding conditions (i.e., "must", "all", and "want"), where positive response rates fell by as much as 70% on average. One issue that the first two experiments gave rise to is that, in some cases, we still observed substantial rates of local scalar inferences. We hypothesized that this was due at least in part to the experimental paradigm, and the results of our third experiment confirm this diagnosis. Taken together, our results confirm Gricean and disconfirm localist predictions.

Roni Katzir (Cornell University), Raj Singh (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) A note on the Absence of Xor in Natural Language Operators, ordering, negation, duality, implicature, presupposition

ABSTRACT: The standard approach to quantification leaves several choice points in attempts to apply it to the semantics of natural language. In this paper, we tentatively propose an approach to natural language operators where many of the choice points of more standard approaches are determined in a principled way. In contrast with the classical approach, we suggest that orderings are more fundamental than truth. We exploit this in proposing a constraint on lexicalization that is consistent with only those operators that come with existential import, that are conservative, and that, when extended to three-values, generate a Strong Kleene system. Operators like *nall, *XOR, and other well-known gaps are ruled out by the constraint. The use of orderings also provides a new perspective on negation and duality.

Nathan Klinedinst (University College London) (Simplification of) 2 Disjunctive Antecedents counterfactuals, conditionals, pragmatics, implicature, disjunction

ABSTRACT: Counterfactual conditionals generally behave non-monotonically with respect to their antecedents; there is not systematic entailment from counterfactual (if P, Q) to (if P+, Q) (or vice versa), where P+ entails P. A well known exception -- assuming `or' to be (equivalent to) boolean disjunction -- is that counterfactual (if P or Q, R) seems to entail (if P, R) and (if Q, R), an inference pattern known as simplification of disjunctive antecedents (sda). It seems difficult to account for the latter if the non- monotonicity of counterfactuals is treated semantically, as in the Stalnaker/Lewis approaches. This paper presents a variant of Lewis's semantics for counterfactuals which, in conjunction with independently observed facts about conversation, can explain the apparent validity of sda.

Giorgio Magri (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Mismatching Scalar Implicatures Scalar implicatures, common knowledge, modularity

ABSTRACT: This paper argues that a sentence sounds odd if one of its scalar implicatures, computed blind to common knowledge, mismatches with common knowledge. The argument is developed through three empirical generalizations. The first section introduces the basic generalization, concentrating on the case of matrix sentences. The next section adapts the generalization to the case of presuppositions. The last section considers the case of embedding under a downward entailing operator, concentrating on the case of the restrictor of universal operators.

Alejandro Perez Carballo (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Toward a Dissolution of the Proviso Problem presuppositions, projection problem, proviso problem, accommodation, indicative conditional, Stalnaker conditional, satisfaction theory, dynamic semantics, common ground

ABSTRACT: The received view on the relationship between presupposition and accommodation is that the identity hypothesis---according to which what is accommodated after an utterance of a sentence just is what the sentence presupposes--- cannot be right. The case against the identity hypothesis is based on data commonly taken to decisively refute the view. The much discussed proviso problem is essentially that of providing an alternative to the identity hypothesis that can account for the putative counterexamples. Against the received view, I argue that the identity hypothesis is in fact compatible with the relevant data. I do this by looking at the ways in which the context set of a conversation affects the process of accommodation. This constitutes the first steps towards a dissolution of the proviso problem.

Philippe Schlenker (Institut Jean Nicod and New York University) Local Contexts: a Précis presupposition, dynamic semantics, trivalence, presupposition projection, semantics, pragmatics

ABSTRACT: In the last thirty years, the problem of presupposition projection has been taken to provide a decisive argument for a dynamic approach to meaning, one in which expressions are not evaluated with respect to the 'global' context of utterance, but rather with respect to a 'local context' obtained by updating the global one with expressions that occur earlier in the sentence. The computation of local contexts is taken by dynamic analyses to follow from a generalization of the notion of belief update. We argue that the dynamic approach is faced with a dilemma: in its pragmatic incarnation (Stalnaker), it is explanatory but not general; in its semantic incarnation (Karttunen and Heim), it is general but not explanatory. We suggest that the dilemma stems for a faulty understanding of 'local contexts', and we offer a new reconstruction of local contexts that eschews belief update but offers a general and fully precise solution to the projection problem.