Only meets vagueness


  • Katsuhiko Yabushita


An only sentence is construed to consist of the positive component, also referred to as the prejacent and the negative one. It is uncontroversial that the negative component is part of the literal meaning, or entailment of the only sentence. More controversial is the status of the prejacent, for it can be canceled (only epistemically, not directly) unlike the negative component; in the literature, it has been analyzed as entailment, presupposition, or conversational implicature. In this paper, novel data on the cancellability of the prejacent will be proffered to indicate that the prejacent is not always cancelable, but is sensitive to the vagueness of the main predicate, suggesting that the cancelability of the prejacent has nothing to do with the semantics of only per se. Indeed, couched in a dynamic semantic framework of vagueness, an alternative analysis of an only sentence will be presented, in which along with the negative component, the prejacent is part of the literal meaning of the sentence; however, sometimes, it will not be categorically asserted, or will be partly revoked as the speaker is aware of the possibility that the object in question does not satisfy the standard of the absolute use of the (vague) main predicate.


How to Cite

Yabushita, K. (2019). Only meets vagueness. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 21(2), 1343–1352. Retrieved from