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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter presents an overview of recent experimental work investigating the semantics and pragmatics of plurality. The studies discussed examine the ‘more than one’ meaning that is seemingly contributed by plural morphology, referred to in the literature as a plurality inference or a multiplicity inference. Theoretical treatments of the multiplicity inference involve deriving the ‘more than one’ meaning as a kind of implicature, or treating it as one of the possible meanings of an ambiguous plural. Recent findings from experiments conducted with adults and children reveal that the plural meaning is sensitive to polarity, context-dependent, suspendable under certain conditions, and computed by preschool-aged children on a par with standard implicatures. The chapter discusses how these experimental findings align with the two main theoretical approaches, and suggests directions for future research.

Keywords: plural morphology, plural nouns, plurality inference, multiplicity inference, implicature, ambiguity, child language development, monotonicity, context-dependence, suspension

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