Similative plurality and the nature of alternatives

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Ryan Walter Smith


This paper investigates the properties of similative plurals, focusing on m-reduplication in Persian and -toka and -tari in Japanese. Although these expressions are associated with what I refer to as a non-homogeneous plural inference in upward-entailing contexts, I demonstrate that this inference is not an entailment of sentences with these morphemes, but is merely implicated, much like the multiplicity condition associated with English bare plurals (Krifka 2004; Spector 2007; Zweig (2009); de Swart & Farkas 2010). I propose an analysis of similative plurals as mereological mixtures of a set with a set of contextually similar objects, and derive the non-homogeneous plural reading via scalar implicature. I demonstrate that deriving this implicature requires both the calculation of implicature at a subsentential level (Chierchia 2004; Chierchia 2006; Zweig 2009) and appeal to an abstract alternative (Buccola et al. 2020; Charlow 2019). This latter point provides a challenge for theories of alternative generation based on structural replacements and deletions (Katzir 2007). 

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