A note on presupposition accommodation

Roni Katzir, Raj Singh


The proviso problem arises for theories of presupposition whose projection component fails to derive certain presuppositions that are contributed by their constituent sentences. Mismatch-based satisfaction theories respond to the difficulty by tying the emergence of the proviso problem to presupposition accommodation. Consequently, when the context entails the projected presupposition and no accommodation is required, mismatch-based satisfaction theories predict that the relevant inferences will be absent. Evidence for this predicted connection between the proviso problem and the need for accommodation is provided by Heim (1992, 2006). Against this conclusion, Geurts (1996) has provided evidence that the proviso problem arises even when the context does entail the sentence's projected presupposition. We will argue that there are confounds in both arguments. The goal of our note is to identify the relevant confounds and to characterize the data that can overcome them. Our attempts to construct examples that control for the confounds and obtain the crucial judgments will prove unsuccessful, leaving the debate unsettled and raising new challenges to constructing the right kinds of data.


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presupposition; accommodation; proviso problem; mismatch; ignorance inferences; question under discussion

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.6.5

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ISSN: 1937-8912

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