Negative comparison, or how to be judgmental and ignorant with scalar alternatives
Teodora Mihoc
November 2021

This paper is primarily about two negative comparative-modified numeral (CMN) expressions: *no more than n* and *not more than n*. These expressions look extremely similar. Naively speaking, they also carry the same non-strict comparison meaning, *less than or equal to n*. However, as noted in Nouwen (2008) (who cites Jespersen 1949, 1966, who in turns credits Stoffel 1894), they differ in interesting ways, among which: *no more than n* yields an exact meaning (EX) but *not more than n* does not (NO-EX). And, in addition to this, *no more than n* give rise to a speaker evaluative meaning (EVAL) whereas *not more than n* gives rise to a speaker ignorance effect (IG). Similar patterns can be verified, mutatis mutandis, for *no less than 10* and *not less than 10*. The existing literature proposes three different analyses related to these phenomena: a solution based on Horn (1972) (considered and dismissed by Nouwen 2008); a solution based on Horn (1972) + Fox and Hackl (2006)’s Universal Density of Measurement (Nouwen 2008’s ultimate proposal); and a solution based on Horn (1972) + Mayr (2013)’s Modifier Alternatives (Mayr 2013). All these analyses are motivated by further data to do with bare numerals (BNs) and/or superlative-modified numerals (SMNs). However, none can explain how a negative CMN can yield *either* EX *or* NO-EX. Nor do they offer an explanation for IG or EVAL. In this paper I propose a new analysis based on Horn (1972): Horn (1972) + *Negation* Alternatives. This analysis takes into account the data for BNs, CMNs, and SMNs also. And it offers a solution for both EX and NO-EX , as well as for IG and EVAL.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/006248
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted to PLC 45 Proceedings.
keywords: negative comparison; no more than; not more than; scalar alternatives; exhaustification; o(nly); e(ven), semantics
previous versions: v1 [October 2021]
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