Abstract

The focus particle even gives rise to an inference that the sentence in which it occurs denotes a proposition that is ranked above the relevant alternatives on a salient pragmatic scale. As a consequence, if unembedded even associates with a strong element that is in a scale-reversing environment, the sentence will be infelicitous. We present data that appear to contradict this generalization, i.e. felicitous sentences where even associates with a strong element across a single scale-reversing operator. We show that the appearance of contradiction disappears on the assumption of embedded exhaustification (e.g. Chierchia et al. 2011). We conclude by observing an analogous puzzle with another focus particle, only, which is resolved on the same assumption.

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