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Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy

Focus, Evaluativity, and Antonymy

A Study in the Semantics of Only and its Interaction with Gradable Antonyms

Authors: Alxatib, Sam

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  • Presents a problematic data paradigm for current views of the semantics of only
  • Argues for a simplified vacuity-based account only’s scalar presupposition
  • Diagnoses an unnoticed asymmetry between the semantic contribution of only, and scalar implicature
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-37806-6
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About this book

This book uncovers properties of focus association with 'only' by examining the interaction between the particle and bare (or “evaluative”) gradable terms. Its empirical building blocks are paradigms involving upward-scalar terms like 'few' and 'rarely', and their downward-scalar antonyms 'many' and 'frequently', an area that has not been studied previously in the literature. The empirical claim is that associations of the former type give rise to unexpected readings, and the proposed theoretical explanation draws on the properties of the latter type of association. In presenting the details, the book deconstructs the so-called scalar presupposition of 'only' and derives it from constraints against its vacuous use. This view is then combined with a semantics of the evaluative adjectives 'many' and 'few' to explain why the unavailable (but expected) meanings of the given constructions are unavailable. The attested (but unexpected) readings of 'only+few/rarely' associations are derived from independently motivated LFs in which the degree expressions are existentially closed. Finally, the book provides new findings, based on the core proposal, about 'only if' constructions, and about the interaction between 'only' and other upward-scalar modified numerals (comparatives, and 'at most'). The book thus provides new data and a new theoretical view of the semantic properties of 'only', and connects it to the semantics of gradable expressions.

About the authors

Sam Alxatib is assistant professor in the linguistics department at the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds a B.Sc. in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia, an M.A. in Linguistics from Simon Fraser University, and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is interested in formal semantics, formal pragmatics, and the syntax-semantics interface, and has worked on issues of focus semantics, scalar implicature and exhaustification, gradability and vagueness, the semantics of tense, aspect, and modality, and (anti-)presupposition.

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Table of contents (6 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook 71,68 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-37806-6
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover 88,39 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-37805-9
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Focus, Evaluativity, and Antonymy
Book Subtitle
A Study in the Semantics of Only and its Interaction with Gradable Antonyms
Authors
Series Title
Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy
Series Volume
104
Copyright
2020
Publisher
Springer International Publishing
Copyright Holder
Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-37806-6
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-37806-6
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-030-37805-9
Series ISSN
0924-4662
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
X, 186
Number of Illustrations
35 b/w illustrations
Topics

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