Discourse anaphoric otherwise: Information structure & modal subordination
Josh Phillips, Hadas Kotek
September 2019

This paper provides a formal semantic/pragmatic analysis of the interpretation and meaning contribution of the English discourse anaphor otherwise. Otherwise is modeled as a discourse move (in the sense of Roberts 2012) which encodes an instruction to consider the complement of a set of worlds introduced in the clause preceding otherwise. Following Webber et al. (2001) and other authors, we take as key the observation that the identity of this antecedent clause to otherwise cannot be determined by the syntax alone. Instead, we argue that we must make crucial reference to the current information structure, and in particular to the current Question under Discussion, to determine the nature of the antecedent. We propose a dynamic semantic/pragmatic account for otherwise, which makes crucial use of modal subordination in order to both model otherwise’s flexible distribution, as well as previously unobserved limitations on its use.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004800
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: manuscript (comments welcome!)
keywords: pragmatics, semantics, modality, dynamic semantics, information structure, modal subordination, discourse anaphor, question under discussion, otherwise, semantics
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