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Publication Detail
The role of Alternatives in the interpretation of scalars and numbers: Insights Insights from the inference task
  • Publication Type:
    Journal article
  • Authors:
    Sun C, Breheny R
  • Publisher:
    Linguistic Society of America
  • Publication date:
  • Journal:
    Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Volume:
  • Article number:
  • Status:
  • Print ISSN:
  • Language:
  • Keywords:
    numerical noun phrases scalar implicatures alternative inference task
  • Notes:
    ©2022 Chao Sun and Richard Breheny. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Numerical noun phrases (NNPs) are ambiguous between at least two and exactly two interpretations. This ambiguity has been commonly discussed as a case of Scalar Implicature (SI), where meaning is enriched by exclusion of an alternative. But the SI approach to NNPs has also been widely challenged. We tested NNPs and scalar expressions in inference tasks and found that scalars were sensitive to a manipulation that altered the relevance of alternatives, whereas exactly readings for NNPs were not. Our findings provide a theory-critical challenge to the SI view of NNPs and support alternative views.
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