Connectedness as a constraint on exhaustification

  • Émile EnguehardEmail author
  • Emmanuel Chemla
Original Research


“Scalar implicatures” is a phrase used to refer to some inferences arising from the competition between alternatives: typically, “Mary read some of the books” ends up conveying that Mary did not read all books, because one could have said “Mary read all books”. The so-called grammatical theory argues that these inferences obtain from the application of a covert operator \( exh \), which not only has the capability to negate alternative sentences, but also the capability to be embedded within sentences under other linguistic operators, i.e. \( exh \) has the potential to add to the meaning of expressions (not necessarily full sentences), the negation of their alternatives. This view typically seeks support from the existence of readings that could not be explained without the extra-capability of \( exh \) to occur in embedded positions. However, if some embedded positions seem to be accessible to \( exh \), not all conceivable positions that \( exh \) could occupy yield sensible results. In short: the \( exh \) approach is powerful, maybe too powerful. Various approaches based on logical strength and monotonicity have been proposed to justify on principled grounds the limited distribution of \( exh \); these approaches are mostly based on a comparison between possible parses, and considerations of monotonicity (e.g., the Strongest Meaning Hypothesis). We propose a new constraint based instead on “connectedness”, ruling out parses because of inherent problems their outcome may raise. Connectedness is a sister notion of monotonicity, which has been recruited to explain certain lexical restrictions on nouns, adjectives and more recently quantifiers; we propose here that connectedness could play a similar role at the level of propositional meanings.


Semantics Exhaustification Connectedness Monotonicity Implicatures 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



  1. Barwise, J., & Cooper, R. (1981). Generalized quantifiers and natural language. Linguistics and Philosophy, 4(2), 159–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beaver, D. (2001). Presupposition and assertion in dynamic semantics. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
  3. Chemla, E. (2009). Universal implicatures and free choice effects: Experimental data. Semantics and Pragmatics, 2(2), 1–33.Google Scholar
  4. Chemla, E., Buccola, B., & Dautriche, I. (2019). Connecting content and logical words. Journal of Semantics, 36, 531–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chemla, E., Dautriche, I., Buccola, B., & Fagot, J. (2018). Constraints on the lexicons of human languages have cognitive roots present in baboons (Papio papio). Ms. CNRS, University of Edinburgh, Aix-Marseille University.
  6. Chemla, E., & Spector, B. (2011). Experimental evidence for embedded scalar implicatures. Journal of Semantics, 28(3), 359–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chierchia, G., Fox, D., & Spector, B. (2011). The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In P. Portner, C. Maienborn, & K. von Heusinger (Eds.), Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning (Vol. 3, pp. 2297–2332). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  8. Coppock, E., & Beaver, D. (2014). Principles of the exclusive muddle. Journal of Semantics, 31(3), 371–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dalrymple, M., et al. (1998). Reciprocal expressions and the concept of reciprocity. Linguistics and Philosophy, 21(2), 159–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fox, D. (2007). Free choice disjunction and the theory of scalar implicatures. In U. Sauerland & P. Stateva (Eds.), Presupposition and implicature in compositional semantics (pp. 71–120). London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Fox, D., & Spector, B. (2018). Economy and embedded exhaustification. Natural Language Semantics, 26(1), 1–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gärdenfors, P. (2004). Conceptual spaces: The geometry of thought. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  13. Gärdenfors, P. (2014). The geometry of meaning: Semantics based on conceptual spaces. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gotzner, N., & Benz, A. (2018). The best response paradigm: A new approach to test implicatures of complex sentences. Frontiers in Communication, 2, 21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Heim, I. (1983). On the projection problem for presuppositions. In P. Portner & B. Partee (Eds.), Formal semantics: The essential readings (pp. 249–260). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Horn, L. R. (1973). On the semantic properties of logical operators in English. Ph.D. thesis, University of California.Google Scholar
  17. Katzir, R. (2007). Structurally-defined alternatives. Linguistic and Philosophy, 30(6), 669–690.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Katzir, R., & Singh, R. (2013a). Constraints on the lexicalization of logical operators. Linguistics and Philosophy, 36(1), 1–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Katzir, R., & Singh, R. (2013b). Hurford disjunctions: embedded exhaustification and structural economy. Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung, 18, 201–216.Google Scholar
  20. Kratzer, A, & Shimoyama, J. (2002). Indeterminate pronouns: The view from Japanese. In Y. Otsu (Ed.) Proceedings of the Tokyo conference on psycholinguistics, (vol. 3, pp. 1–25). Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.Google Scholar
  21. Kratzer, A. (1979). Conditional necessity and possibility. In R. Bäuerle, U. Egli, & A. von Stechow (Eds.), Semantics from different points of view (pp. 117–147). Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Kratzer, A. (1981). Partition and revision: The semantics of counterfactuals. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 2, 201–216.Google Scholar
  23. Krifka, M. (1993). Focus and presupposition in dynamic interpretation. Journal of Semantics, 10(4), 269–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lewis, D. (1973). Counterfactuals. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
  25. Lewis, D. (1981). Ordering semantics and premise semantics for counterfactuals. Journal of Philosophical Logic, 10(2), 217–234.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Mayr, C., & Romoli, J. (2016). A puzzle for theories of redundancy: Exhaustification, incrementality, and the notion of local context. Semantics and Pragmatics, 9(7), 1–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Potts, C., Lassiter, D., Levy, R., & Frank, M. C. (2016). Embedded implicatures as pragmatic inferences under compositional lexical uncertainty. Journal of Semantics, 33(4), 755–802.Google Scholar
  28. Roberts, C. (1996). Information structure in discourse: Towards an integrated formal theory of pragmatics. OSU Working Papers in Linguistics, 49, 91–136.Google Scholar
  29. Roberts, C. (2006). Only, presupposition and implicature. Ms., The Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  30. Sauerland, U. (2012). The computation of scalar implicatures: Pragmatic, lexical or grammatical? Language and Linguistics Compass, 6(1), 36–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Schlenker, P. (2008). Be articulate: A pragmatic theory of presupposition projection. Theoretical Linguistics, 34(3), 157–212.Google Scholar
  32. Schulz, K., & van Rooij, R. (2006). Pragmatic meaning and non-monotonic reasoning: The case of exhaustive interpretation. Linguistics and Philosophy, 29(2), 205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Schwarzschild, R. (1999). GIVENness, AvoidF and other constraints on the placement of accent. Natural Language Semantics, 7(2), 141–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Solt, S., & Waldon, B. (2019). Numerals under negation: Empirical findings. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4(1), 113.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Spector, B. (2006). Aspects de la pragmatique des opérateurs logiques. Ph.D. thesis. Université Paris 7.Google Scholar
  36. Spector, B. (2016). Comparing exhaustivity operators. Semantics and Pragmatics, 9(11), 1–33.Google Scholar
  37. Stalnaker, R. (1968). A theory of conditionals. In W. Harper, R. Stalnaker, & G. Pearce (Eds.), IFS (pp. 41–55). Dordrecht: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. van Rooij, R., & Schulz, K. (2004). Exhaustive interpretation of complex sentences. Journal of Logic, Language and Information, 13(4), 491–519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. von Fintel, K., & Matthewson, L. (2008). Universals in semantics. The Linguistic Review, 25(1–2), 139–201.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut Jean NicodParisFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et PsycholinguistiqueParisFrance
  3. 3.Département d’Études Cognitives, ENS, EHESS, CNRSPSL UniversityParisFrance

Personalised recommendations