Contrastive negation and the theory of alternatives
Chris Bruno
September 2017

This paper is a contribution to the theory of focus; in particular, it is concerned with what counts as a valid focus alternative. Empirical data from contrastive negation associating with presupposition triggers is presented, and it is observed that association with the definite article and 'both' lead to an existence inference. It is shown that the existence inference is unexplained by the current theory of focus, but that it can be explained by placing constraints on focus alternatives. The constraints I propose are that focus alternatives are limited to the meanings of linguistic expressions that satisfy one of two novel notions of equivalence: Strawson-equivalence or P-equivalence. Strawson-equivalence is the bidirectional variant of von Fintel's (1999) Strawson-entailment, and P-entailment holds between two expressions which have equivalent presuppositions.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003669
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Proceedings of SALT (2017)
keywords: negation, presupposition, focus, alternatives, quantifiers, strawson-entailment, strawson-equivalence, p-equivalence, semantics
previous versions: v1 [August 2017]
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