What do quantifier particles do?

Linguistics and Philosophy 38 (2):159-204 (2015)
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In many languages, the same particles that form quantifier words also serve as connectives, additive and scalar particles, question markers, roots of existential verbs, and so on. Do these have a unified semantics, or do they merely bear a family resemblance? Are they aided by silent operators in their varied roles―if yes, what operators? I dub the particles “quantifier particles” and refer to them generically with capitalized versions of the Japanese morphemes. I argue that both MO and KA can be assigned a stable semantics across their various roles. The specific analysis I offer is motivated by the fact that MO and KA often combine with just one argument; I propose that this is their characteristic behavior. Their role is to impose semantic requirements that are satisfied when the immediately larger context is interpreted as the meet/join of their host’s semantic contribution with something else. They do not perform meet/join themselves. The obligatory vs. optional appearance of the particles depends on whether the meet/join interpretations arise by default in the given constellation. I explicate the proposal using the toolkit of basic Inquisitive Semantics.
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First archival date: 2015-11-21
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