Pair-list answers to questions with plural definites

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William Johnston


Questions with plural definites (QPDs) can receive responses that take the form of a pair-list. Following Dayal (1992, 1996) and Krifka (1992), these are generally treated not as genuine pair-list answers, but as pragmatically-motivated elaborations on underlyingly cumulative answers. I present new evidence against this view: pair-list answers can be available even in the absence of a corresponding felicitous cumulative answer. I argue that the pair-list form of such answers must be represented in the semantics, and that QPDs must permit both the “cumulation-and-elaboration” strategy and a genuine pair-list parse.

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William Johnston, McGill University

PhD student in the McGill University Department of Linguistics