Reverse proportionality without context dependent standards
Alan Bale, Bernhard Schwarz
May 2018

In their so-called reverse proportional reading (Herburger 1997), the truth conditions of statements of the form "many/few φ ψ" appear to make reference to the ratio of the individuals that are in the extensions of both φ and ψ to the individuals that are in the extension of ψ. The analysis of such readings is controversial. One prominent approach (Büring 1996, de Hoop and Solà 1996, Romero 2015, 2016, Solt 2009) assumes that they are a symptom of many and few making reference to a context dependent standard of comparison. Elaborating on remarks in Partee (1989), we observe that this initially attractive approach systematically undergenerates, failing to capture pervasive reverse proportionality in environments that remove context dependency of the standard. We propose that reverse proportionality in such cases instead reflects the underspecification of the measure function underlying the meanings of "many" and "few" (Bale and Barner 2009, Wellwood 2014).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003995
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: submitted
keywords: semantics of many, proportional reading, reverse proportional reading, comparatives, measure functions, mass-count distinction, context dependency, semantics
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