What do quantifier particles do?

Anna Szabolcsi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    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.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)159-204
    Number of pages46
    JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
    Issue number2
    StatePublished - Apr 1 2015


    • Compositionality
    • Conjunction
    • Cross-linguistic semantics
    • Disjunction
    • Inquisitive Semantics
    • Particles
    • Quantifier

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Philosophy
    • Linguistics and Language


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