While ‘most’ and ‘more than half’ are generally assumed to be truth-conditionally equivalent, the former is usually interpreted as conveying greater proportions than the latter. Previous work has attempted to explain this difference in terms of pragmatic strengthening or variation in meanings. In this paper, we propose a novel explanation that keeps the truth-conditions equivalence. We argue that the difference in typical sets between the two expressions emerges as a result of two previously independently motivated mechanisms. First, the two expressions have different sets of pragmatic alternatives. Second, listeners tend to minimize the expected distance between their representation of the world and the speaker’s observation. We support this explanation with a computational model of usage in the Rational Speech Act framework. Moreover, we report the results of a quantifier production experiment. We find that our account can explain the difference in typical proportions associated with the two expressions.

An alternatives account of "most" and "more than half" / Carcassi, Fausto; Szymanik, Jakub Krzysztof. - In: GLOSSA. - ISSN 2397-1835. - 6:1(2021), pp. 14601-14640. [10.16995/glossa.5764]

An alternatives account of "most" and "more than half"

Jakub Szymanik
2021-01-01

Abstract

While ‘most’ and ‘more than half’ are generally assumed to be truth-conditionally equivalent, the former is usually interpreted as conveying greater proportions than the latter. Previous work has attempted to explain this difference in terms of pragmatic strengthening or variation in meanings. In this paper, we propose a novel explanation that keeps the truth-conditions equivalence. We argue that the difference in typical sets between the two expressions emerges as a result of two previously independently motivated mechanisms. First, the two expressions have different sets of pragmatic alternatives. Second, listeners tend to minimize the expected distance between their representation of the world and the speaker’s observation. We support this explanation with a computational model of usage in the Rational Speech Act framework. Moreover, we report the results of a quantifier production experiment. We find that our account can explain the difference in typical proportions associated with the two expressions.
2021
1
Carcassi, Fausto; Szymanik, Jakub Krzysztof
An alternatives account of "most" and "more than half" / Carcassi, Fausto; Szymanik, Jakub Krzysztof. - In: GLOSSA. - ISSN 2397-1835. - 6:1(2021), pp. 14601-14640. [10.16995/glossa.5764]
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11572/364226
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