Contextual restrictions on cumulativity

Nina Haslinger


This paper revisits the semantic variability of sentences with simple plural (in)definites in English and German, which permit distributive, cumulative and paired-cover construals. I argue that this variability reflects context-dependency rather than LF ambiguity (Schwarzschild 1996) and that the selection of a particular construal in context is driven by the QUD in the same way as the choice between maximal and non-maximal construals of plural definites (Malamud 2012; Križ 2015; Križ & Spector 2020). I then develop a new semantics for plural predication on which non-distributive and non-maximal construals form a natural class. The system extends the idea that non-maximality involves truth-value gaps (e.g. Križ 2015) to non-distributive construals by making use of Schmitt’s (2019) ‘plural projection’ framework, in which plural sentences involve special composition rules.

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