5: Only Updates. On the Dynamics of the Focus Particle Only

In: Questions in Dynamic Semantics
Gerhard Jäger
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This chapter aims to extend the coverage of the dynamic paradigm to phenomena involving the focus sensitive operator only. Constructions involving this item show a dependency on linguistic context reminiscent to the behavior of anaphora. Existing approaches address this phenomenon by weakening the compositionality of interpretation in several respects. The chapter outlines a dynamic theory of the semantics of these constructions that preserves compositionality both on the sentence and on the text level. The semantics of ULQA makes use of a kind of simulated partiality. The implicit universal quantification introduced by only-constructions is restricted by contextual information. According to Rooth (1992), these constructions nevertheless involve classical universal quantification which is restricted by a syntactically present anaphor. The chapter concludes that the semantics of universal quantification is changed in such a way that it is restricted implicitly by the context.