The Semantics of Paranumerals

Abstract : The paper contrasts two semantic subclasses among expressions combining with numerals. These subclasses, exemplified respectively by at least and more than, are further contrasted with bare numerals. Even if they often make the same contribution to truth conditions, there are grounds for distinguishing numerals, ‘numerical comparatives' (more than), and ‘set comparators' (at least) on the basis of dynamic properties, to do especially with anaphora and apposition. The paper makes the following claims: (i) bare numerals introduce into the representation a set of exactly n individuals; (ii) numerical comparatives (more/less than n) only introduce the maximal set of individuals Σx satisfying the conjunction of the NP and VP constraints, and compare the cardinality of this set to n; set comparators (at least/at most) introduce two sets into the representation: Σx, and a witness set, the existence of which is asserted, which is constrained as a set of n Xs, X being the descriptive content of the NP. The paper is presented in the framework of Discourse Representation Theory and is based on French data.
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Francis Corblin. The Semantics of Paranumerals. S. Vogeleer & L. Tasmowski. Non-Definiteness and Plurality, Benjamins, pp.331-353, 2006. ⟨ijn_00541892⟩

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