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Auteur: Nadine BADE

Obligatory Presuppositions and Exhaustive Interpretation

Abstract/Résumé: In this paper I provide an explanation for why presupposition triggers are obligatory when their presupposition is verified by the context: (1) a. John came to the party. Bill did, #(too). b. Yesterday Jenna went ice skating. She went ice skating today #(again). c. The / # A sun is shining. d. John knows / # believes that Paris is in France. Recent analyses of the data exploit a principle Maximize Presupposition (Heim 1991). They extend the original version to other presupposition triggers (Sauerland 2008, Percus 2006, Chemla 2008). They assume that lexical items or sentences are ordered on a scale with regard to their presuppositional strength and claim that sentences or items that are presuppositionally weaker will lead to a special inference. However, when extending the principle to presupposition triggers beside the definite determiner, all versions of Maximize Presupposition face a problem. They predict all triggers to be obligatory under negation which they are not: (2) a. Jenna went ice skating yesterday. Today she didn't go (again). b. Mary came to the party. It is not the case that Peter came (too). c. Mary is married. Joe does not believe/ know she is. I present an alternative proposal that avoids this problem and still explains the obligatory occurrence of the triggers in (1). It extends the idea of Saeboe (2004) that the obligatory insertion of additives follows from a contrastive implicature. I argue that the obligatory insertion of all presupposition triggers in (1) follows from an implicature that arises due to the mandatory insertion of a covert exhaustivity operator (Fox 2007) triggered by focus. In (1a), for example, exhaustification is triggered in the second sentence due to obligatory focus on “Bill”. Based on Beaver (2007) I take focus to mark the Question Under Discussion (QUD) (Roberts 1996). The sentence is interpreted exhaustively with respect to the QUD “Who came to the party?”. The exhaustivity operator identifies “Bill came to the party” as the most informative answer in the question set which means that it entails all other true answers. The obligatory implicature of the sentence hence contradicts that "John came to the party". By inserting the trigger the contradiction and the related oddness are avoided. The insertion of too makes the sentence presupposes that another alternative is true which blocks exhaustification. A parallel explanation holds for cases involving know and again. The account works without scales of presuppositional strength or the postulation of another type of inference. It explains why the triggers under (2) are not obligatory under negation. The exhaustification of the negated sentence will not result in a contradiction since it is exhaustified with respect to the question “Who did not come?”