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Presuppositions vs. implicatures: what reaction times really tell us

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Scalar implicatures (SIs) and Presuppositions (Ps) have traditionally been considered very different. Recent accounts have instead argued that at least some presuppositions are scalar implicatures of sort, thereby predicting that, every- thing being equal, they should behave uniformly (Chemla 2009, Romoli 2014 among others). SIs and Ps have been investigated experimentally more and more recently (Chemla and Singh 2014 for a critical review). And in particular, reaction time experiments have been taken to challenge the scalar implicature-based account to presuppositions, in that Ps unlike SIs would not give rise to a delay in reaction times. I rst discuss the relevant literature on RTs experiments and then I report on three experiments, conducted in collaboration with Florian Schwarz and Cory Bill, investigating different types of presuppositions and scalar implicatures in comparison. As I will argue, the results of these experiments show that it is actually not clear that there is a difference in RTs between Ps and SIs. Therefore the scalar implicature approach to presuppositions is not challenged by RTs ndings after all. Finally, I will mention other differences between Ps and SIs which have instead been found from other ways of looking at the SIs vs Ps comparison, like language acquisition and language disorders, and how these findings constrain importantly the scalar implicature approach.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Linguistics Forum series.

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