A distributed analysis of only
Luka Crnic
June 2022

The positive, non-exclusive inference of only has been famously elusive, both with respect to its projective status as well as to its content (e.g., Horn 1969, 1972, 1996, McCawley 1993, Atlas 1993, among many others). This is due to the apparently irreconcilable properties it exhibits: in some cases the positive inference behaves like a presupposition, while in others it does not; in some cases the inference is strong, corresponding to the prejacent of only, while in others it is not, corresponding to a mere existential inference. This complex topography, we argue, surfaces the exceptive nature of only (cf. von Fintel & Iatridou 2007). More specifically, if the import of only is distributed between a minimality and a subtraction component, as has been argued for exceptives (esp., Gajewski 2008), the apparently irreconcilable properties of only can be captured.
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Reference: lingbuzz/006645
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keywords: only, exceptives, presupposition, semantics, semantics, syntax
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