The Exhaustivity of Contrastive Focus is a Conversational Implicature

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The Exhaustivity of Contrastive Focus
is a Conversational Implicature
Mary ByramWashburn
[email protected]
http://www-scf.usc.edu/~byram/
Elsi Kaiser
Maria Luisa Zubizarreta
The University of Southern California
CUSP 2012
With many thanks to Elena Guerzoni!
Contrastive focus seems exhaustive
 The intuition:
 1a) It was John who left the party early.
b) [John]F left the party early.
 = only John left the party early (no one else left the party early)
 This has led many people to include exhaustivity as part of
the semantics of contrastive focus, especially it-clefts
 For it-clefts: Kiss 1998, Percus 1997
 For insitu contrastive focus: Svoboda & Materna 1987
Exhaustivity behaves like a
conversational implicature
 Felicitous in suspender clauses (Horn 1972)
 2a) It was a sandwich that Tom ordered, and possibly it was even
a sandwich and a bagel that he ordered.
 2b) Tom ordered a [sandwich] F, and possibly, he even ordered a
sandwich and a bagel.
 Fails to arise in downward entailing environments
 3) Context: George always leaves one cookie in the cookie jar.
 a) If it was George who stole the cookies, then there will be just one left,
regardless of his accomplices.
 b) If [George]F stole the cookies, there will be just one left, regardless of
his accomplices.
Violations of exhaustivity are not
processed the same as for ‘only’
 Drenhaus et al 2010
 Questionnaire study and ERP study
 Compared exhaustive and non-exhaustive it-clefts to exhaustive and non-exhaustive ‘only’
sentences in German
 a) Exhaustive it-cleft:
Es ist Maria, die das Klavier spielen kann und ausserdem noch die Geige sagte…
It is Mary who the piano play can and besides that also the violin says…
It is Mary who can play the piano and, additionally, also the violin, says…
 b) Non-exhaustive it-cleft:
Es ist Maria, die das Klavier spielen kann und ausserdem noch Luise und Jana sagte…
It is Mary who the piano play can and besides her also Luise and Jana says…
It is Mary who can play the piano and, additionally, also Luise and Jana, says…
 c) Exhaustive ‘only’ statement
Nur Maria kann das Klavier spielen und ausserdem noch die Geige sagte…
Only Mary can the piano play and besides that also the violin says…
Only Mary can play the piano and, additionally, also the violin, says…
 d) Non-exhaustive ‘only’ statement
Nur Maria kann das Klavier spielen und ausserdem noch Luise and Jana sagte…
Only Mary can the piano play and besides that also Luise and Jana says…
Only Mary can play the piano and, additionally, also Luise and Jana, says…
Violations of exhaustivity are not
processed the same as for ‘only’
 Drenhaus et al 2010: results
 For the Questionnaire
 Non-exhaustive statements worse than exhaustive ones, but non-exhaustive
it-clefts significantly better than non-exhaustive ‘only’
 1-6 where 1=best
o Exhaustive it-cleft: 2.4
o Non-exhaustive it-cleft: 2.8
o Exhaustive ‘only’: 2.6
o Non-exhaustive ‘only’: 3.7
 For the ERP
 Exhaustive it-cleft vs. Non-exhaustive it-cleft: N400
 Pragmatic integration (not truth-conditional violation)
 Exhaustive ‘only’ vs. Non-exhaustive ‘only’: P600
 Semantic processing
Exhaustivity is a scalar implicature?
 Maxim of Quantity & Maxim of Quality (Horn 1981)
 Any more informative statement that is not said must have been
omitted because it is false.
 3 premises:
 P1) A speaker utters the it-cleft or contrastive focus correctly
 P2) Opinionate speaker: The speaker either believes that the it-cleft
or utterance with contrastive focus is exhaustive or believes that it is
not.
 (Fox 2007, Sauerland 2004, von Fintel and Heim 1999)
 P3) Relevance: The speaker believes that it is relevant if there are
multiple items that are true of the utterance, one of which is the
clefted or contrastively focused item
 (Gamut 1991, Atlas and Levinson 1981)
The Current Study: goals
 Goals:
 Determine if speakers of English find non-exhaustive
contrastive focus to be ungrammatical in circumstances where a
scalar implicature should fail to arise.
 Ungrammaticality is a hallmark of being a semantic property
 Test on:


It-clefts (Exp. 1)
Insitu contrastive focus (Exp. 2)
The Current Study: materials
 The last spoken sentence was always the same:


Exp. 1: Yesterday, it was a sandwich that he ordered
Exp. 2: Yesterday, he ordered a [sandwich]F.
 Baseline:
 Exhaustive, Contrastive (exh, con)
 Grammatical
 Jane and Tom went to lunch. Tom ordered a sandwich. Later, Kevin
remarks: “I bet Tom ordered only a salad again, didn’t he?” Jane responds:
“No, he didn’t.”
 Exhaustive, Non-contrastive (exh, non-con)
 Ungrammatical
 Jane and Tom went to lunch. Tom ordered a sandwich. Later, Kevin
remarks: “I bet Tom ordered only a sandwich again, didn’t he?” Jane
responds: “Yes, he did.”
The Current Study: materials
 Exp. 1: Yesterday, it was a sandwich that he ordered
 Exp. 2: Yesterday, he ordered a [sandwich]F.
 Explicit Alternatives and Relevant Alternatives
 Explicit: strength of implicature = markedness (Horn 1981)
 Relevant: implicature fails to arise if more informative statement is irrelevant
 Non-exhaustive, Explicit, Irrelevant (nonexh, exp, rel)
 Grammatical
 Jane and Tom went to lunch. Tom ordered a sandwich, a bagel, and a donut.
Later, Kevin remarks: “I bet Tom ordered only a salad again, didn’t he?” Jane
responds: “He doesn’t always order salads.”
 Non-exhaustive, Explicit, Relevant (nonexh, exp, rel)
 Ungrammatical
 Jane and Tom went to lunch. Tom ordered a sandwich, a bagel, and a donut.
Later, Kevin remarks: “I bet Tom ordered a salad again, didn’t he?” Jane
responds: “No, he didn’t.”
The Current Study: materials
 Exp. 1: Yesterday, it was a sandwich that he ordered
 Exp. 2: Yesterday, he ordered a [sandwich]F.
 Explicit Alternatives and Relevant Alternatives
 Non-exhaustive, Implicit, Irrelevant (nonexh, nonexp)
 Grammatical
 Jane and Tom went to lunch. Tom ordered a variety of lunch items. Later,
Kevin remarks: “I bet Tom ordered only a salad again, didn’t he?” Jane
responds: “He doesn’t always order salads.”
 Non-exhaustive, Implicit, Relevant (nonexh, nonexp, rel)
 Ungrammatical
 Jane and Tom went to lunch. Tom ordered a variety of lunch items. Later,
Kevin remarks: “I bet Tom ordered a salad again, didn’t he?” Jane
responds: “No, he didn’t.”
The Current Study: procedure
 Participants read the paragraphs on a computer screen.
 Only one sentence visible at a time.
 Clicked spacebar to move to the next sentence.
 Final, experimental sentence presented audially.
 Native, female speaker of English
 Participants judged final sentence.
 Asked to indicate how “natural” final sentence was in light of the
previous context. (“weird” or “bizarre” also in instructions)
 1-6 nominal scale, 1=completely natural & 6 =completely unnatural
 Fillers:
 Pseudoclefts and insitu focus, with appropriate and inappropriate
intonation (flat or emphasized) and placement (noun or verb)
The Current Study:
experiment 1 results with it-clefts
Experiment 1: it-clefts
Ratings: 1= completely natural, n=24
6
5.5
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
Non-contrastive it-clefts were
rated significantly worse than all
other conditions. p<.01
Non-exhaustive it-clefts were not rated worst
than exhaustive it-clefts. p>.05
3.23
1.97
exh,con
•
exh,noncon
2.27
2.39
nonexh,exp
nonexh,exp,rel
2.31
2.35
nonexh,nonexp nonexh,nonexp,rel
Non-exhaustive it-clefts were not judged to be ungrammatical!
The Current Study:
experiment 2 current results with insitu
Experiment 2: insitu contrastive focus
Ratings, 1=completely natural, n=14
6
5.5
5
4.5
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
Non-contrastive insitu
focus is rated worse than
the other conditions.
All non-exhaustive conditions are within .33 pts
of the exhaustive, contrastive condition.
2.81
1.74
exh,con
•
1.69
exh,noncon
nonexh,exp
1.86
nonexh,exp,rel
1.91
2.07
nonexh,nonexp nonexh,nonexp,rel
Non-exhaustive insitu contrastive focus does not appear to be ungrammatical!
The Current Study: discussion
 Non-exhaustive contrastive focus is not ungrammatical.
 Non-contrastive contrastive focus is ungrammatical.
 Rated worse than all other conditions, regardless of exhaustivity.
 No difference between exhaustive and non-exhaustive
conditions.
 Implicit vs. Explicit alternatives did not make a difference.
 Strongest case of exhaustivity: explicitly mentioned alternatives
 Relevant vs. Irrelevant alternatives did not make a difference
 Trend towards relevant alternatives being rated worse than
irrelevant alternatives, but nowhere near significant.
 Could be a product of the sensitivity of the task.
Implications
 Exhaustiveness in contrastive focus is a conversational
implicature.
 Can be formally analyzed as a scalar implicature.
 Analyzing it as a scalar implicature accounts for more of the data
 Suspender clauses, downward entailment
 Violations are not processed like semantic violations
 N400, not a P600
 Not considered as bad as a truly ungrammatical construction (indeed,
perhaps not bad at all!)
 Accounts of contrastive focus, even of the it-cleft, should
avoid using exhaustivity as part of its meaning
 It is possible to include presentational clefts and identificational
clefts within the same analysis.
Works Cited
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