Natural Language Semantics 29 (1):115-158 (2021)

Guillermo Del Pinal
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
According to the `grammatical account', scalar implicatures are triggered by a covert exhaustification operator present in logical form. This account covers considerable empirical ground, but there is a peculiar pattern that resists treatment given its usual implementation. The pattern centers on odd assertions like #"Most lions are mammals" and #"Some Italians come from a beautiful country", which seem to trigger implicatures in contexts where the enriched readings conflict with information in the common ground. Magri (2009, 2011) argues that, to account for these cases, the basic grammatical approach has to be supplemented with the stipulations that exhaustification is obligatory and is based on formal computations which are blind to information in the common ground. In this paper, I argue that accounts of oddness should allow for the possibility of felicitous assertions that call for revision of the common ground, including explicit assertions of unusual beliefs such as "Most but not all lions are mammals" and "Some but not all Italians come from Italy". To adequately cover these and similar cases, I propose that Magri's version of the Grammatical account should be refined with the novel hypothesis that exhaustification triggers a bifurcation between presupposed (the negated relevant alternatives) and at-issue (the prejacent) content. The explanation of the full oddness pattern, including cases of felicitous proposals to revise the common ground, follows from the interaction between presupposed and at-issue content with an independently motivated constraint on accommodation. Finally, I argue that treating the exhaustification operator as a presupposition trigger helps solve various independent puzzles faced by extant grammatical accounts, and motivates a substantial revision of standard accounts of the overt exhaustifier "only".
Keywords semantics  pragmatics  scalar implicatures  Grice  modularity  common ground  exhaustification
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11050-020-09172-w
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Scorekeeping in a Language Game.David Lewis - 1979 - Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1):339--359.
A Natural History of Negation.Laurence R. Horn - 1989 - University of Chicago Press.
Context.Robert Stalnaker - 2014 - Oxford University Press.
Assertion.Robert Stalnaker - 1978 - Syntax and Semantics (New York Academic Press) 9:315-332.
Assertion.Robert C. Stalnaker - 1978 - In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. pp. 179.

View all 40 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Economy and Embedded Exhaustification.Danny Fox & Benjamin Spector - 2018 - Natural Language Semantics 26 (1):1-50.
Contextual Blindness in Implicature Computation.Salvatore Pistoia-Reda - 2017 - Natural Language Semantics 25 (2):109-124.
Experimenting with (Conditional) Perfection.Fabrizio Cariani & Lance J. Rips - forthcoming - In Stefan Kaufmann, David Over & Ghanshyam Sharma (eds.), Conditionals: Logic, Semantics, Psychology.
Scalar Implicatures of Embedded Disjunction.Luka Crnič, Emmanuel Chemla & Danny Fox - 2015 - Natural Language Semantics 23 (4):271-305.
Constraining the Derivation of Alternatives.Tue Trinh & Andreas Haida - 2015 - Natural Language Semantics 23 (4):249-270.
Free Choice of Alternatives.Anamaria Fălăuş - 2014 - Linguistics and Philosophy 37 (2):121-173.
Maximize Presupposition and Gricean Reasoning.Philippe Schlenker - 2012 - Natural Language Semantics 20 (4):391-429.
Scalar Implicatures and Iterated Admissibility.Sascia Pavan - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (4):261-290.
When Lingens Meets Frege: Communication Without Common Ground.Jens Kipper - 2021 - Philosophical Studies 178 (5):1441-1461.


Added to PP index

Total views
544 ( #15,552 of 2,499,006 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
178 ( #3,220 of 2,499,006 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes