The distribution of controlled exhaustivity

Mathieu Paillé


While predicates in taxonomies (e.g. colour terms) are interpreted as mutually incompatible, this paper shows that their incompatibility is in many cases not lexical. Rather, it is the result of a previously undescribed exhaustivity effect. What is more, this class of exhaustivity effects displays novel behaviour. Exhaustivity is both obligatory and tightly constrained: at first approximation, any taxonomic predicate must be in the immediate scope of the exhaustivity operator it requires. Taxonomic predicates, in this sense, are argued to "control" exhaustivity.

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