Contrastive negation and the theory of alternatives

Chris Bruno


This paper is a contribution to the theory of focus; in particular, it is concerned with what counts as a valid focus alternative.
Empirical data from contrastive negation associating with presupposition triggers is presented, and it is observed that association with the definite article and both lead to an existence inference.
It is shown that the existence inference is unexplained by the current theory of focus, but that it can be explained by placing constraints on focus alternatives.
The constraints I propose are that focus alternatives are limited to the meanings of linguistic expressions that satisfy either Strawson-equivalence or P-equivalence.

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