Sole Sisters

Elizabeth Coppock, David Beaver


We propose a unified analysis of exclusives, taking into account NP- and VP-modifying 'only' and 'just' and the adjectival exclusives 'mere', 'sole', 'only', 'single', and 'exclusive'. We use paraphrases with 'at most' and 'at least' to argue that exclusives uniformly signify a presupposed lower bound and an ordinary content upper bound on the true alternative answers to the current question under discussion, thus extending Beaver and Clark (2008). According to our analysis, exclusives vary along two parameters: (i) the ontological type of their arguments; (ii) constraints on the question under discussion. Due to variation in the type parameter, exclusives exhibit different scopes, leading to different NPI licensing properties. To formalize our analysis, we introduce a dynamic semantics that treats questions under discussion as part of the context and allows for binding into these questions.


Exclusives; Negative polarity; Alternatives; Questions; Dynamic Semantics

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