Underspecification in Degree Operators

Published in Journal of Semantics, 2018

Abstract: The goal of this article is to account for the recurrent homophony between comparison, additivity and continuation cross-linguistically. Building on Roger Schwarzschild’s recent work on comparison in scale segment semantics, I propose that comparative, additive and continuative sentences all assert the existence of a rising scale segment, and differ in terms of (i) the nature of the scale and (ii) the identification of the extremities of the scale segments. At a morphosyntactic level, all three types of sentences involve the combination of a feature that denotes a property of rising scale segments with other features whose denotations constrain the identification of the extremities of the segments in a way that is characteristic of each interpretation (additivity, comparison or continuation). Homophony results from the underspecification of Vocabulary Items in Distributed Morphology.

Guillaume Thomas. 2018. Underspecification in Degree Operators. Journal of Semantics 35: 43-93. doi: 10.1093/jos/ffx015