Modal Determiners and Alternatives: Quantity and Ignorance Effects

Luis Alonso-Ovalle, Paula Menendez-Benito


The literature on epistemic indefinites has explored the possibility that different pragmatic competitors give rise to different epistemic effects (Alonso-Ovalle & Menéndez-Benito (2010), Fa ̆la ̆us ̧ (2009)). Like epistemic indefinites, ‘class B modified numerals’ (Nouwen (2010)), such as English at least n, signal speaker ignorance. This paper examines the modal component of the Spanish complex determiner algún que otro, which, like at least n, conveys that the speaker does not know how many individuals satisfy the existential claim. We show that the modal component of at least n and algún que otro differ. Unlike at least n, algún que otro does not determine the minimum number of individuals that, according to the speaker, might satisfy the existential claim. We argue that the epistemic component of algún que otro is an implicature, and, building on the discussion in Nouwen (forthcoming), we contend that the contrast between at least n and algún que otro can also be traced back to the different pragmatic competitors that these items invoke.


Modal Determiners, Alternatives, Implicatures

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