The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Ling-Lunch 10/30 - Andreea Nicolae

Speaker: Andreea Nicolae (ZAS Berlin)
Title: Positive polarity and strength of scalar implicatures
Date/Time:Thursday, October 30, 12:30-1:45pm
Location: 32-D461

The goal of this talk is to offer a new analysis of positive polarity elements in light of the differences between weak and strong disjunction (“or” versus “either or”). I will be addressing the following three properties of disjunctive elements in this talk:
◦ the ease of cancelability (strength) of their scalar inference
◦ the PPI status of a disjunctive element
◦ the ignorance inference that accompanies both weak and strong disjunction

I will argue the following:
◦ the strength of the SI relates to the nature of the alternatives activated by the element at play, namely whether or not the scalar alternatives are obligatory (non-prunable).
◦ the PPI status is the result of an element’s appeal to non-vacuous exhaustification, i.e. proper strengthening.
◦ the epistemic ignorance inference is the result of a last resort way of avoiding a contradiction, namely via the insertion of a covert modal.

If time permits, we will also see how this account can be carried over to account for the PPI status of existential quantifiers.