More than Bare Existence: An Implicature of Existential Bare Plurals

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Abstract

Existential bare plurals (e.g. dogs) have the same semantics as explicit existentials (e.g. a dog or some dogs) but different pragmatics. In addition to entailing the existence of a set of individuals, existential bare plurals implicate that this set is suitable for some purpose. The suitability implicature is a form of what has been variously called informativeness-based or R-based implicature. Condoravdi (1992, 1994) and others have claimed that bare plurals have a third reading (in addition to the generic and the existential), sometimes called quasi-universal. However, the suitability implicature is sufficient to account for the quasi-universal interpretation, without the need to stipulate a distinct reading of bare plurals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-400
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Semantics
Volume22
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2005

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