Deriving the positive polarity behavior of plain disjunction

Andreea Cristina Nicolae


The goal of this paper is to show that the positive polarity behavior of plain disjunctions (e.g., French ou ‘or’) can be analyzed as an interplay between a semantic requirement for obligatory exhaustification and an economy condition which prevents vacuous exhaustification, building on the analysis provided by Spector (2014) to account for the PPI behavior of complex disjunctions (e.g., French soit soit ‘either or’). I will argue that plain, but not complex, disjunction allows the pruning of its conjunctive alternative, using as evidence the contrast between these two types of disjunctions when it comes to the optionality of their scalar implicature. I will show that once we assume that exhaustification can take scope over a covert doxastic operator, we can straightforwardly derive the unacceptability of plain disjunction PPIs under negation, even in the absence of a scalar implicature.



positive polarity; disjunction; exhaustification; scalar implicatures; covert doxastic operator; uncertainty inferences

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ISSN: 1937-8912

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