On the source of proper partitivity

  • Paul Marty


This paper investigates into the meaning and use of partitive constructions such as three of John’s lawyers. These constructions have long been observed to give rise to inferences of proper partitivity: upon hearing a sentence like Sue talked to three of John’s lawyers, we spontaneously understand that John has more than three lawyers, that is we interpret the partitive three of John’s lawyers as denoting a proper subset of the denotation of John’s lawyers. Contra the common idea that proper partitivity follows from the plain meaning of partitives, I defend here the view that partitives semantically express partitivity tout court, that is they encode the reflexive ‘part-of’ relation, and that proper partitivity comes about as a result of a presuppositional implicature on the basis of the competition between those indefinite expressions and their non-partitive definite alternatives, e.g., John’s three lawyers.
How to Cite
Marty, P. (2019). On the source of proper partitivity. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 23(2), 143-160. https://doi.org/10.18148/sub/2019.v23i2.603

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