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28/02/19: Seminari GLiF a càrrec de Louise McNally

28/02/19: Seminari GLiF a càrrec de Louise McNally



Títol: "Scalar alternatives and scalar inference involving adjectives" a càrrec de Louise McNally (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Data: dijous 28 de febrer del 2019

Hora: 12.00 h

Lloc: sala de reunions 52.701 - 7a planta edifici 52. Roc Boronat - Campus del Poblenou - UPF

Doran, et al. 2009, 2012 and Van Tiel, et al. 2016 have recently presented experimental evidence that gradable adjectives (e.g. cool) yield scalar inferences (e.g. to not cold) significantly less often than do numerals, quantifiers and modals do and that, moreover, there is also considerable variability within the class of adjectives in the frequency with which inferences are likely to be generated. Van Tiel, et al. consider two hypotheses to explain this variation: differences among pairs of adjectives in what they call scale distinctness (how easy or difficult it is to differentiate the adjectives), and differences in scale availability (how salient the stronger scalar alternative is); they argue that only scale distinctness plays a role, and a rather small one at that; they leave most of the variation unexplained. In this comment, I argue that their measures of scale availability were too crude to detect a role for contextual variation in the scalar alternatives that subjects consider, but that this latter variation is, in fact, a very plausible part of the explanation for the results. I discuss some specific ways adjectives might yield different scalar alternatives in different contexts, under sufficiently sophisticated assumptions about their lexical semantics and about the rhetorical structure of discourse.