Date of Award
Master of Arts
In typical distributions (Even [John] was late), 'even' projects two expected presuppositions: 1) There are more people than John who were late and 2) John is a surprising candidate to be late. In comparatives (John is even later than Sam), there is a unique inference, which is distinct from the two aforementioned and, critically, unique to the context of comparatives. In this case, we could say that John and Sam are both late, which is not entailed from the simple comparative ‘John is later than Sam’ (Rett, 2008). The aim of this thesis is to relate the expected presuppositions (Karttunen and Peters, 1979), which constitute the broad theoretical framing of ‘even’, to the unique inference borne from comparatives. Doing so brings two research questions. First, the syntactic element that 'even' focuses must be identified. Departing from Barker (1991), I argue this syntactic element, in many comparatives with 'even', is the structure obligatorily elided under the process of Comparative Deletion (Bresnan 1973, 1975). A key argument against Barker is on the grounds of discourse. The second research question pertains to satisfying the two expected presuppositions of ‘even’, which, in turn, situates the distribution under study within the larger theoretical framing of ‘even’. Together, the arguments for both questions give an explanation as to how the unique inference is derived.
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