Comparing Theories of Quantifiers in *than* Clauses: Lessons from Downward-Entailing Differentials

Nicholas Fleisher

Abstract


I investigate the effect of differential-phrase entailingness on the interpretation of comparative *than* clauses with quantificational subjects, a matter that has gone largely overlooked in the otherwise fecund recent literature. I show that only a subset of theories that derive the right readings for *than* clauses with quantifiers in the presence of an upward-entailing differential successfully generalize to cases with non-monotone or downward-entailing differentials. The empirical paradigm presented here thus serves as an indispensible test suite for theories of comparatives and a useful probe for metatheoretical investigation. In particular, I show that theories in which the degrees associated with the *than*-clause-internal quantifier are not distributed over the matrix degree relation (**encapsulation** theories) fail to generate the right readings with downward-entailing differentials (and they generally require ad hoc tweaks in order to handle non-monotone differentials). Theories in which those degrees are distributed over the matrix degree relation (**entanglement** theories) correctly derive the entire paradigm without further ado. I survey a number of recent theories of each type.

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Keywords


comparatives; quantification; differentials; entailingness

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/sp.9.4

License URL: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

ISSN: 1937-8912

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