Scenarios of equivalence - The case of quelque

Publication
TitleScenarios of equivalence - The case of quelque
Publication TypeConference Paper
Année de publication2007
AuthorsJayez, J., & Tovena L.
Conference NameFunny Indefinites
Date Published2007
PublisherCornelia Ebert et Stefan Hinterwimmer.
Conference LocationBerlin, Germany.
KeywordsSCCO.LING Cognitive science/Linguistics
Abstract

The French existential determiner quelque is examined in relation to the notion of equivalence. This notion, formalised as Equity in (Jayez and Tovena, 2008), is the explicit characterisation of a widespread intuition concerning free choice and epistemic items, according to which members of a set are presented as equivalent with respect to some relevant criterion or dimension. Equivalence is a unifying notion that enables us to embrace the different aspects of the distribution of quelque and turn them into a coherent whole. The paper discusses the epistemic component of quelque and draws attention to its evidential property, which is exploited in accounting for the subtle interplay be- tween the determiner and the types of nouns it combines with. It is then argued that the seeming positive polarity of quelque derives from the conventionalised effect of a processing interaction between its existential quantifier status and the epistemic implicature it conveys. By taking into account the pressure of processing mecha- nisms on the stabilisation of use, we are able to explain the otherwise puzzling fact that several epistemic determiners with unrelated morphology in different languages exhibit a converging behaviour with respect to negation. Finally, a closer look at di- achronic data reveals that the anti-specificity of quelque is present already in the early stages of the life of the item.

URLhttps://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-00925690
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