Training and timing local scalar enrichments under global pragmatic pressures
Elementary sentences containing the quantificational determiner some seem to be ambiguous between a 'weak' existential meaning ∃ and a 'strengthened' some but not all meaning ∃+. The strengthened meaning is commonly assumed to be the output of a general enrichment mechanism, call it G (for 'global'), that applies to the weak meaning of the sentence: G(∃) = ∃+. The application of G has been shown to come with a processing cost (e.g. Bott & Noveck 2004). We used a self-paced reading task together with offline comprehension questions to investigate the interpretation of sentences containing some when embedded inside a disjunction, a position that G cannot access. Our findings suggest (i) that the strengthened meaning ∃+ is available in embedded positions, suggesting that a mechanism of local strengthening L must be available: L(∃) = ∃+, (ii) that local enrichment can be facilitated by global pragmatic pressures (Chierchia et al. 2008; Mayr & Romoli 2014), (iii) that subjects can be quickly trained to systematically prefer one of G or L to the other, (iv) that application of L, like the application of G, comes with a processing cost. We highlight consequences of our findings for debates about the characterization of enrichment mechanisms, focusing on the relation between G and L.
|Journal||Journal of Semantics|
Chemla, E. (Emmanuel), Cummins, C. (Chris), & Singh, R. (2017). Training and timing local scalar enrichments under global pragmatic pressures. Journal of Semantics, 34(1), 107–126. doi:10.1093/jos/ffw006