Discourse update at the service of mirativity effects: the case of the Discursive Dative

Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Nora Boneh


The classic model of conversation based on the Common Ground (CG), introduced by Karttunen (1974), Lewis (1979) and Stalnaker (1978), was shown to be insufficient for accounting for various conversational phenomena (inter alia Portner 2004, 2007, Farkas & Bruce 2009, Murray 2014). This paper further strengthens this line by analyzing a type of non-truth conditional non-core dative termed the Discursive Dative (DD) as a discourse management device (Krifka 2008, Repp 2013). The DD signals that the asserted proposition p constitutes an exception to a normative generalization believed by the speaker to be shared by the speech event participants. In order to capture the notion of exception we propose to divide the CG into two sets of worlds, those consistent with previous assertions and their presuppositions (CGA) and those consistent with generalizations (CGG). The DD signals a non-inclusion relation between the asserted proposition and the CGG. This enables us to distinguish between different types of mirativity effects, by drawing a distinction between adding a proposition p that was not previously in the speaker’s expectation-set (inter alia DeLancey 1997, 2001, Rett 2009, Peterson 2013, Rett & Murray 2013) and the present case of the DD, where p can very well be in the speaker’s expectation-set, but objectively expected that ~p.


Full Text:



Ariel, Mira, Elitzur Dattner, John W. Du Bois, and Tal Linzen. 2015. Pronominal datives: the royal road to argument status. Studies in Language 39, 257–321.

Asher, Nicholas & Michael Moreau 1995. What some generic sentences mean. In Gregory N. Carlson & Francis J. Pelletier (eds.), The Generic Book, 300–338. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Bar-Asher Siegal, Elitzur & Boneh, Nora. 2015a. Decomposing Affectedness. In Nurit Melnik (ed.) Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics (IATL) 30. MITWPL.

Bar-Asher Siegal, Elitzur A. & Nora Boneh. 2015b. Reconsidering the Emergence of Non-core Dative Constructions in Modern Hebrew. Journal of Jewish Languages 3, 309–323.

Berman, Ruth A. 1982. Dative Marking of the Affectee Role: Data from Modern Hebrew. Hebrew Annual Review 6, 35–59.

Borer, Hagit. & Yosef Grodzinsky. 1986. Syntactic cliticization and lexical cliticization: The case of Hebrew dative clitics. In Hagit Borer (ed.), Syntax and Semantics, 175–217. New York: Academic Press.

Cohen, Ariel. 2004. Existential Generics. Linguistics and Philosophy 27, 137-168.

DeLancey, Scott. 1997. Mirativity: The grammatical marking of unexpected information, Linguistic Typology 1, 33–52.

DeLancey, Scott. 2001. The mirative and evidentiality. Journal of Pragmatics 33 (3), 369–382.

Farkas, Donka & Kim Bruce. 2010. On reacting to assertions and polar questions. Journal of Semantics 27(1), 81–118.

Greenberg, Yael. 2007. Exceptions To Generics: Where Vagueness, Context Dependence And Modality Interact, Journal of Semantics 24, 131–167.

Gutzmann, Daniel. 2007. Eine Implikatur konventioneller Art: der Dativus Ethicus. Linguistische Berichte no. 211, 277–308.

Juitteau, Mélanie, and Milan Rezac. 2007. The French ethical dative, 13 syntactic tests. Bucharest Working Papers in Linguistics 9, 97–108.

Hamblin, C. L. 1973. Questions in Montague Grammar, Foundations of Language 10, 41–53.

Karttunen, Lauri. 1974. Presuppositions and linguistic context, Theoretical Linguistics 1, 181–194.

Karttunen, Lauri. 1977. Syntax and Semantics of Questions, Linguistics and Philosophy 1, 3–44.

Krifka, Manfred. 2008. Basic notions of information structure. Acta Linguistica Hungarica 55, 243–276.

Krifka, Manfred, Francis J. Pelletier, Greg Carlson, Alice ter Meulen, Gennaro Chierchia & Godehard Link. 1995. Genericity: an introduction. In Gregory N. Carlson & Francis J. Pelletier (eds.), The Generic Book, 1–124. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Leclère, Christian 1976. Datifs syntaxiques et datif éthique. In Jean-Claude Chevalier & Maurice Gross (eds.), Méthodes en Grammaire française, 73–96. Paris: Klincksieck.

Lewis, David. 1979. Scorekeeping in a language game. Journal of Philosophical Logic 8, 339–359.

Murray, Sarah. E. 2014. Varieties of Update. Semantics and Pragmatics 7(2), 1–53.

Peterson, Tyler. 2013. Rethinking Mirativity: The Expression and Implication of Surprise.


Portner, Paul. 2004. The semantics of imperatives within a theory of clause types. Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 14. http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v14i0.2907.

Portner, Paul. 2007. Beyond the CG: The semantics and pragmatics of epistemic modals. Talk. International Conference on Linguistics in Korea.

Repp, Sophie. 2013. Common Ground Management: Modal particles, Illocutionary Negation and VERUM. In Daniel Gutzmann & Hans-Martin Gärtner (eds.), Beyond Expressives - Explorations in Use-conditional Meaning, 231-274. Leiden, Boston: Emerald. CRISPI Series.

Rett, Jessica. 2009. A degree account of exclamatives. In Tova Friedman & Satoshi Ito (eds.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 18, 601–618.

Rett, Jessica and Sarah Murray. 2013. A semantic account of mirative evidentials. In Todd Snider (ed.), Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 23, 453–472.

Romero, Maribel and Cung-Hye Han, 2004. On negative yes/no questions. Linguistics and Philosophy 27, 609–658.

Rooryck, Johan. 2001. Evidentiality, Part I, Glot International 5(4), 125–133. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.

Stalnaker, Robert. 1978. Assertion. In Peter Cole (ed.), Pragmatics, 215–323. New York: Academic Press.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v26i0.3784

Copyright (c) 2016 Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, Nora Boneh