Michael Wagner Colloquium

December 3
3:30 - 5:00 pm
McGill University
Additivity and the syntax of 'even'

Whether 'even' carries an additive presupposition or conventional implicature remains controversial. While Horn (1969), Karttunen and Peters (1979), Wilkinson (1996) and many others have argued that it does, Stechow (1991), Krifka (1992) and Rullmann (1997) reached the opposite conclusion. This talk identifies a new syntactic generalization about when 'even' triggers an additive presupposition, which provides further evidence for the analysis of the syntax of focus operators advocated here. It also reconciles the contradictory findings about additivity in the earlier literature. The observed syntactic generalization can be explained if certain assumptions are made about the nature of scales and alternatives. The syntactic analysis of 'even' offers a new perspective on the distribution of  focus operators more generally.