Analyzing English "Only" as "Not Any More/Other Than"
Linmin Zhang
May 2024

I adopt a decompositional view on "only", proposing that it contains three elements: (i) negation, (ii) an additive part (e.g., like "more" or "other"), and (iii) an NPI. Thus "only" essentially means anti-additivity and can be paraphrased as "not any more/other (than)". For an "only" sentence like "(not) only Mary came", our intuition is that "Mary came" naturally follows. I argue that this positive inference is an implicature in a positive "only" sentence (e.g., "not anyone other than Mary came") but entailed meaning in a negative "only" sentence (e.g., "someone other than Mary came").
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/008130
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Slides for the ELSJ 17th International Spring Forum 2024
keywords: only, (anti-)additivity, implicature, npi licensing, semantics
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