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Auteur: Laia MAYOL

Co-Auteur(s): Elena Castroviejo

Contrastive Topic and Conversational Implicature Cancellation

Abstract/Résumé: This paper is concerned with the semantics of contrastive topics (CTs) in contexts such as (1), where ‘too’ is obligatory (Krifka 1999, Saebø 2004, Hara & van Rooij 2007, Winterstein, 2011). We account for 1 by appealing to independently motivated properties of conversational implicature cancellation. (1) What did Peter and Pia eat? a. # Peter_ct ate pasta_f , and Pia_ct ate pasta_f. b. Peter_ct ate pasta_f and Pia_ct ate pasta too_f . According to Büring 1999, 2003, an utterance A with a CT generates a CT-value ([[A]]ct), such that the CT-value of 2a would be 2b. (2) a. Peter_ct ate pasta_f . b. Who ate what? Krifka attributes the unacceptability of 1a to a violation of the Distinctiveness Condition, an implicature derived from the Maxim of Manner according to which there cannot exist an alternative stronger to the CT that the speaker is willing to assert. He claims that the answer ‘Peter and Pia ate pasta’ is shorter and, thus, preferred. Two questions arise: What disallows the cancellation of the implicature in 1a? What allows the cancellation in 1b? As shown in previous work (Mayol & Castroviejo 2011), implicature cancellation is a constrained process that requires a particular discourse structure. We follow Roberts 1996 in assuming that the discourse topic can be modeled as a Question Under Discussion. The QUD of a sentence corresponds to its focus-value or to its CT-value, if the sentence is CT-marked. Therefore, the QUD of 2a is 2b. We propose that canceling obeys the QUD Constraint on Canceling: the operation of canceling presupposes a QUD ?q, such that QUD ?q ≠ last(QUD). This constraint requires that the utterance carrying out the cancellation addresses a QUD different from the one that the previous utterance was addressing. Our proposal is that in both 1a and 1b the first conjunct addresses the QUD ‘Who ate what?’(i.e., its CT-value). If the speaker believed that Pia also ate pasta, he would have said ‘Peter and Pia ate pasta’ and, therefore, it is implicated that Pia did not eat pasta. The second conjunct attempts to cancel the Distinctiveness Condition. While 1a does not comply with the QUD Constraint on Canceling (since the second conjunct addresses the same QUD), the particle ‘too’ creates the appropriate context for cancellation in 1b. Specifically, the presence of ‘too’ in focus position forces a new CT-value and a new QUD. We follow Krifka in assuming that stressed ‘too’ realizes verum focus. Therefore, the focus value of the sentence is {Pia ate pasta, Pia didn’t eat pasta} and its CT-value is ‘Who ate pasta?’. Moreover ‘too’ presupposes that someone else ate pasta, which constrains the QUD into the resulting QUD ‘Who else ate pasta?’. There is a change of QUD and the Constraint on Canceling is satisfied.