LINGUIST List 31.1169

Thu Mar 26 2020

Books: Focus, Evaluativity, and Antonymy: Alxatib

Editor for this issue: Jeremy Coburn <>

Date: 23-Mar-2020
From: Laura de Kreij <>
Subject: Focus, Evaluativity, and Antonymy: Alxatib
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Title: Focus, Evaluativity, and Antonymy
Subtitle: A Study in the Semantics of Only and its Interaction with Gradable Antonyms
Series Title: Studies in Linguistics and Philosophy
Published: 2020
Publisher: Springer

Book URL:

Author: Sam Alxatib
Electronic: ISBN: 9783030378066 Pages: Price: Europe EURO 71.68
Hardback: ISBN: 9783030378059 Pages: Price: Europe EURO 92.64

This book uncovers properties of focus association with 'only' by examining the interaction between the particle and bare (or “evaluative”) gradable terms. Its empirical building blocks are paradigms involving upward-scalar terms like 'few' and 'rarely', and their downward-scalar antonyms 'many' and 'frequently', an area that has not been studied previously in the literature. The empirical claim is that associations of the former type give rise to unexpected readings, and the proposed theoretical explanation draws on the properties of the latter type of association. In presenting the details, the book deconstructs the so-called scalar presupposition of 'only' and derives it from constraints against its vacuous use. This view is then combined with a semantics of the evaluative adjectives 'many' and 'few' to explain why the unavailable (but expected) meanings of the given constructions are unavailable. The attested (but unexpected) readings of 'only+few/rarely' associations are derived from independently motivated LFs in which the degree expressions are existentially closed. Finally, the book provides new findings, based on the core proposal, about 'only if' constructions, and about the interaction between 'only' and other upward-scalar modified numerals (comparatives, and 'at most'). The book thus provides new data and a new theoretical view of the semantic properties of 'only', and connects it to the semantics of gradable expressions.

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Written In: English (eng)

See this book announcement on our website:

Page Updated: 26-Mar-2020