Binding into superlative descriptions

Dylan Bumford


Attributive superlative adjectives are famously ambiguous between readings in which they compare elements of the description they modify, and readings in which they compare competitors to some description-external element of the
sentence. The literature is braided with two analytical origin stories for these different interpretations. One strand of analysis attributes the difference in meaning to a difference in the compositional scope of the superlative morpheme. The other attributes the difference to a difference in how the superlative's implicit domain of quantification is resolved. Here, I present new data showing that pronouns in superlative descriptions have sloppy readings, akin to familiar cases of adverbial association with focus, and I argue that these readings are compatible with scope-taking analyses, but cannot be generated by any plausible variety of domain restriction.

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Copyright (c) 2018 Dylan Bumford