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The role of Alternatives in the interpretation of scalars and numbers: Insights Insights from the inference task

Sun, Chao; Breheny, Richard; (2022) The role of Alternatives in the interpretation of scalars and numbers: Insights Insights from the inference task. Semantics and Pragmatics , 15 , Article 8. 10.3765/sp.15.8. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

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.

Type: Article
Title: The role of Alternatives in the interpretation of scalars and numbers: Insights Insights from the inference task
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.3765/sp.15.8
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.3765/sp.15.8
Language: English
Additional information: ©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/).
Keywords: numerical noun phrases scalar implicatures alternative inference task
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Linguistics
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10155127
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