Attested connectives are better at answering questions
Moshe E. Bar-Lev, Roni Katzir
September 2023

Why are AND and OR the only binary connectives that are lexicalized as simplex? Horn (1972) first observed this striking typological fact and suggested an account that relied on the assumption that ‘positive’ connectives like AND and OR are inherently simpler than other connectives. Much subsequent work adopted this assumption, along with Horn’s insight that the strengthening of utterances through scalar implicature plays a role in explaining the typological pattern. Bar-Lev & Katzir (2022a) aim to derive the typological pattern from strengthening alone, without assuming that ‘positive’ connectives are inherently simpler. The present remark aims to address several issues for their view, building in part on work by Enguehard (2023) and Bar-Lev & Katzir (2022b), by taking a step back and asking why connectives are lexicalized to begin with. We suggest that the motivation for lexicalizing connectives comes from their ability to help in answering questions. In particular, connectives should help speakers convey their epistemic state with respect to a given question. We show that, once several proposals from the recent literature on questions and strengthening are adopted, AND and OR turn out to be the only connectives whose lexicalization allows speakers to convey their epistemic attitude towards all the possible complete answers to a given question. This provides a simpler and more principled derivation of what sets apart AND and OR from the other connectives than earlier accounts of Horn (1972)’s typological puzzle.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007583
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Ms., Tel Aviv University
keywords: connectives, typology, questions, exhaustification, implicature, semantics
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