Linguistics in Göttingen - A platform for empirical and theoretical linguistics

Nadine Bade ( University of Tübingen): Obligatory Presupposition Triggers as a Window into Exhaustivity Implicatures

In my talk, I will present three experimental studies testing the different predictions of two theories for the obligatory insertion of presupposition triggers. One works with the pragmatic principle Maximize Presupposition, the other works with Obligatory Implicatures. In order to compare and to test the predictions of both theories one needs to investigate the contextual factors for the arising of exhaustivity implicatures. The first study I present tested whether overt questions influence the occurrence of exhaustivity implicatures and the obligatory insertion of "too". The other two studies tested the effect of overt cancellation of particularized conversational implicatures with the additive "too" in different contexts. One study tested the influence of overt alternatives on the occurrence of implicatures by forcing its subsequent cancellation with "too". The other study tested the influence of contrasting clauses on whether an implicatures arises based on how acceptable overt cancellation is. The studies, which were both conducted in German, show that the acceptability of overt cancellation with the additive "too" is a good measure of how stable an exhaustivity implicature is. In addition, the studies help to empirically distinguish between the predictions of the theories Maximize Presupposition and with Obligatory Implicatures regarding the obligatory insertion of presupposition triggers.
Based on the results, I propose that introducing alternatives alone does not pose enough contextual pressure to exhaustify. I argue against a default exhaustification of alternatives but propose that exhaustification is a mandatory process under certain circumstances, overt contrast being one of them. Furthermore, I propose that the obligatory insertion of additives depends on the obligatory occurrence of these exhaustivity implicatures.