The Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Pázmány Péter Catholic University

are pleased to announce the workshop


Implicatures or domain restriction/domain widening?

Theoretical and experimental approaches


to be held on June 19–20, 2017

in Budapest, Hungary


The goal of this workshop is to confront various views and experimental results on how contextual restrictions on the domain of quantification, the domain of exhaustive focus, the domain of disjunctive coordination, etc. enter into interpretation in child and adult language.

According to the traditional neo-Gricean view (e.g., Horn 1981, Levinson 1983, Kadmon 2001), the basic reading of numerical indefinites is ‛at least n’, and the ‛exactly n’ reading obtained in certain contexts and out of context is contributed by a scalar implicature. More recent alternative proposals, supported by experimental results (e.g. Papafragou and Musolino 2003), claim that the ‛exactly n’ reading is basic, and the ‛at least n’ reading is derived by pragmatic inferencing (Horn 1996, Geurts 2006, Breheny 2008). These conflicting theories have also been used to account for the relation of some and all/every expressions (Some Hittite scholars were at the reception can be true if in fact all Hittite scholars were present). Stanley and Szabó’s (2000) proposal challenges both types of approaches; they argue that the choice between some Hittite scholars and all Hittite scholars depends on how the speaker determines the domain with respect to which the quantifier phrase is evaluated. In this framework neither reading is basic, both are accessible by suitable contextual manipulations of the domain.

As is known since Szabolcsi (1981), the exhaustivity of a structural focus, e.g., the cleft focus in It is Joseph Conrad who was born Polish, too, only holds with respect to a contextually determined domain. It is debated whether the coherence of the sentence It was two novels by Joseph Conrad that I read for the exam, and I also read an article about him shows that the exhaustivity of structural focus is an implicature cancelled by the second clause (cf. Wedgwood 2005), or exhaustivity is a non-cancellable presupposition, and the relevant domain with respect to which exhaustivity is evaluated is widened in the second clause.

Experimental data show that, given the right context, not only adults but also children can understand and perform contextually relevant domain restriction. It is an open question how exactly this is done; whether implicatures are encapsulated in the logical-semantic module (cf. Chierchia, Fox, and Spector 2012); or – at least in the case of children – local, context-dependent operations yield the required interpretation; etc.

We expect abstract submissions discussing these and related issues from any (theoretical, experimental, linguistic, psycholinguistic etc.) perspectives.


Breheny, R. 2008. A new look at the semantics and pragmatics of numerically modified noun phrases, Journal of Semantics 25: 93–139.

Chierchia, G., Fox, D., and Spector, B. 2012. The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning Vol. 2, ed. Maienborn, C., von Heusinger, K., and Portner, P. 2297–2332. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Horn, L. R. 1981. Exhaustiveness and the semantics of clefts. In Papers from the 11th Annual Meeting of the North Eastern Linguistic Society, ed. Burke, V. and J. Pustejovsky, J. 124–42. Amherst: GLSA.

Horn, L. R. 1996. Presupposition and Implicature. In Handbook of Contemporary Linguistic Theory, ed. Lappin, S. 299–319. Oxford: Blackwel.

Kadmon, N. 2001. Formal Pragmatics. Oxford: Blackwell.

Levinson, S. C. 1983. Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Papafragou, A., and Musolino, J. 2003. Scalar implicatures: experiments at the syntax semantics interface. Cognition 86: 253–282.

Stanley, J. and Szabó, Z. G. 2000. On quantifier domain restriction. Mind and Language 15: 219–261.

Szabolcsi, A. 1981. The semantics of topic-focus articulation. 3rd Amsterdam Colloquium Proceedings.

Wedgwood, D. 2005. Shifting the Focus. From Static Structures to the Dynamics of Interpretation. Amsterdam: Elsevier.


Invited Speakers

Gennaro Chierchia (Harvard University)

Bart Geurts (University of Nijmegen)



Katalin É. Kiss

Lilla Pintér


Abstracts are solicited on any topic related to the theme of the conference.