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By Chris Cummins

This booklet considers how expressions related to quantity are utilized by audio system and understood through hearers. A speaker's collection of expression could be a complicated challenge even in really simple-looking domain names. when it comes to numerical expressions, there are usually many decisions that might be semantically appropriate: for example, if 'more than 2 hundred' is correct, then so is 'more than 199', 'more than 150', and 'more than 100', between others. A speaker doesn't choose from those innovations arbitrarily but additionally doesn't continually persist with any uncomplicated rule. The hearer is not only in what has been acknowledged but additionally in from now on inferences that may be drawn.

Chris Cummins bargains a collection of standards that separately impression the speaker's selection of expression. the method of selecting what to claim is then handled as an issue of a number of constraint delight. This method permits a number of assorted concerns, drawn from rules of semantics, philosophy, psycholinguistics and the psychology of quantity, concurrently to be built-in inside of a unmarried coherent account. This constraint-based version deals novel predictions approximately utilization and interpretation which are borne out experimentally and in corpus examine. It additionally explains problematical facts in numerical quantification that experience formerly been dealt with by way of extra stipulative potential, and provides a possible line of assault for addressing the matter of the speaker's selection in additional normal linguistic environments.

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Extra resources for Constraints on numerical expressions

Sample text

Many cultural artefacts are constructed with reference to round numbers: packages of  or  items, metric measurements, percentages, and so on. Intuitively, this observation supports the claim that roundness is psychologically relevant: it is surely not a coincidence that this particular pattern has emerged. But if we are interested in the psychology of the individual speaker, this presents us with a possible confound. Suppose that a speaker who has no autonomous preference for round numbers participates in this culture.

In OT, the set of constraints is usually held to be universal, and languages (and indeed idiolects) are distinguished from one another by their constraint rankings. It is a feature of the OT architecture that constraints are never deactivated as such—rather than being switched on or off in particular languages, a constraint may simply be ranked higher or lower. Low-ranked constraints are still potentially relevant to determining the optimal output, but often the selection process will terminate before these constraints are considered, in which case they exert no influence.

The role of the informativeness constraint, from this perspective, would be to assign violations to candidate expressions each time they fail to exclude a possibility known to be false. For example, if a speaker knows that ‘more than ’ is the case, she knows that ‘exactly ’ is not the case. Under these circumstances, the constraint would assign a violation to the candidate expression ‘more than nine’, as this fails to exclude the possibility ‘exactly ’. However, to formalize a constraint along those lines, we need to resolve some troublesome issues.

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