'So' as a weak degree expression

Elena Castroviejo-Miro


This paper aims to answer three questions about the degree expression 'so' in English: (i) what semantics does it contribute? (I.e., in what ways is 'so' different from 'enough'?) (ii) how can we explain its restricted distribution? And (iii) how does the that-clause compose with 'so'? I point out that equating 'enough' and 'so' (as has been done in the literature) is problematic, and I propose that a new approach that establishes an analogy between"so" and weak pronouns can yield satisfactory answers to questions (i)--(iii). In a nutshell, I argue that there are two 'so's: a strong (deictic) one and a weak (anaphoric) one. I concentrate on weak 'so' and show that its limited distribution has to do with the informational properties of weak items more generally. I further claim that its accompanying that-clause is not a complement of 'so', but rather an adjoined sentence that provides a bona fide focus to the sentence.


so, enough, gradability, modality, anaphora, familiarity, focus

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v21i0.2624

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