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Minimal Sufficiency Readings in Conditionals

Conference paper
Authors Elizabeth Coppock
Anna Lindahl
Published in Proceedings of the 15th Texas Linguistic Society, October 24-26, 2014 Texas, Austin. Christopher Brown and Qianping Gu and Cornelia Loos and Jason Mielens and Grace Neveu (eds.)
Pages 24-38
ISSN 1936-4105
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 24-38
Language en
Keywords semantics, conditionals, exclusives
Subject categories Linguistics


We discuss minimal sufficiency readings of exclusives like just, as in Just the thought of him sends shivers down my spine, which does not mean the same thing as Only the thought of him sends shivers down my spine. We provide a set of diagnostics for identifying minimal sufficiency readings in conditionals and in simple clauses, and identify a generalization as to where the latter type appear: only in arguments that have a ‘causer’ thematic role. For this reason, we see minimal sufficiency readings in conditionals as basic, and provide an analysis of them building on Kratzer’s notion of a modal base. The idea is that the exclusive particle signals an upper bound on the assumptions that have to be added to the modal base before the consequent follows.

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