The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 9/16: Pranav Anand

Speaker: Pranav Anand (UC Santa Cruz)
Title: The role of upward monotonicity in the interpretation of plurals: A view from image verification
Time: Thurs 9/16, 12:30-1:45
Place: 32-D461

Plural DPs possess the vexing capability to be inclusive, capable of allowing atomic reference in some sentences, but to be exclusive in others. The several proposals for this double?life (Krifka 1989, Sauerland et al. 2005, Spector 2007, Farkas & de Swart 2010) converge in analyzing the distinction in terms of pragmatic competition, suggested by dispreference for exclusive plurals in downward monotone (DM) environments. A number of analyses (Spector 2007, Farkas and de Swart 2010, Sauerland et al. 2005) connect this competition to the Strongest Meaning Hypothesis, suggesting that, other things being equal, an exclusive reading is preferred in UM contexts and an inclusive reading is preferred in DM ones. This talk examines this claim empirically in the context of image verification for bare plurals under each. Although acceptability responses do show that speakers verify exclusive plural readings significantly more often in the nuclear scope (NS) of each than in the restrictor (R), the effect size is small. This result comports with evidence that exclusive plurality is sensitive to the ecological settings defeating scalar inference (Khan et al. 2010) and argues that the principle driving exclusivity is a factor subject to strong situational reduction.