Universal Implicatures and Free Choice Effects: Experimental Data

Emmanuel Chemla


Universal inferences like (i) have been taken as evidence for a local/syntactic treatment of scalar implicatures (i.e. theories where the enrichment of "some" into "some but not all" can happen sub-sententially):

(i) Everybody read some of the books
--> Everybody read [some but not all the books].

In this paper, I provide experimental evidence which casts doubt on this argument. The counter-argument relies on a new set of data involving free choice inferences (a sub-species of scalar implicatures) and negative counterparts of (i), namely sentences with the quantifier "no" instead of "every".

The results show that the globalist account of scalar implicatures is incomplete (mainly because of free choice inferences) but that the distribution of universal inferences made available by the localist move remains incomplete as well (mainly because of the negative cases).


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experiment, scalar implicatures, free choice

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.2.2

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

ISSN: 1937-8912

Journal doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp