Effects of iconicity and monotonicity on licensing complement anaphora
Anastasia Tsilia, Kathryn Davidson
February 2024

Complement anaphora is generally only licensed by downward monotone quantifiers, like ‘few’ (Nouwen 2003). Yet, sign language data suggest that the use of iconic “loci” can license complement anaphora with upward monotone quantifiers like ‘most’ (Schlenker 2012; Schlenker et al. 2013). This paper tests the hypothesis that the iconic nature of loci would extend to iconic uses of space in co-speech gestures in English. We hypothesised that, when accompanied by iconic co-speech gestures, complement anaphora will be licensed with upward monotone quantifiers, and will be degraded with downward monotone ones. We designed an experiment testing downward and upward monotone quantifiers with and without gesture, and found a significant effect of both gesture and quantifier type, as well as an interaction between the two. Our results show that iconicity affects complement anaphora licensing, and has the inverse effect of monotonicity. We suggest that the iconicity effects are not sign language specific, but are instead more broad, having to do with how humans interpret iconicity in language. We further argue that iconic co-speech gestures trigger an iconic inference of existence, along the lines of what has been suggested for iconic loci in ASL (Kuhn 2020).
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/007882
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: To appear in Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 28.
keywords: complement set, anaphora licensing, co-speech gestures, monotonicity, iconicity, semantics
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