The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LingLunch 2/22: Hanzhi Zhu (MIT)

Speaker: Hanzhi Zhu (UMass-Amherst)
Title: A scalar presupposition for already
Date and time: Thursday, February 22, 12:30-1:50pm
Location: 32-D461

The particles still and already are commonly thought of and analyzed as particles that mirror the other (Löbner 1989, Krifka 2000, Ippolito 2007, inter alia).  The particle still has been robustly argued to have an additive presupposition in the same vein as particles like too.  Previous accounts attempt to formulate already as also having an additive presupposition, capturing the putative duality of the two particles However, I argue that such approaches are untenable, motivated by asymmetries between the two particles as exemplified in the following pair: 

(1)  You wake up after a full night of sleep, estimating that it’s 7am. You check your clock.
       Wow, it’s already 9am!
(2)  You wake up after a full night of sleep, estimating that it’s 9am. You check your clock.
       #Wow, it’s still 7am!
I propose that already does not have an additive presupposition but instead an even-style scalar ’likelihood’ presupposition enriched with an exhaustivity operator.  This analysis will offer empirical improvements over previous analyses, notably in its ability to capture the earlier-than-expected inference conveyed by already.