The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 10/4 - Michael Wagner

Speaker: Michael Wagner (McGill)
Date/Time: Friday October 4th, 3:30-5pm
Venue: 32-141
Title: Additivity and the Syntax of ‘Even’


Whether ‘even’ carries an additive presupposition remains controversial. While Horn (1969), Karttunen and Peters (1979), Wilkinson (1996) and many others have argued that it does, Stechow (1991), Krifka (1992) and Rullmann (1997) reached the opposite conclusion. This talk identifies a restriction on the focus alternatives that additive operator may range over: They cannot entail or be entailed by what is asserted. Based on tests relying on this restriction and more conventional arguments, the talk then develops a novel syntactic generalization about the circumstances under which even triggers an additive presupposition which reconciles apparently contradictory evidence from the earlier literature. Consequences for our understanding of the syntax of focus operators are explored.