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Modal inferences in marked indefinites

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Abstract

In this paper, we first present the results of a synchronic corpus study of the determiner <i>irgendein</i> and the pronoun <i>irgend jemand</i> in German and identify four main uses: ignorance effect in specific uses (spU), ignorance effect under epistemic modals (epiU), narrow-scope existential meaning in &#65533;negative&#65533; contexts (NPu), free choice effect under deontic modals (deoFC). Then we sketch a formal account in the framework of a Dynamic Semantics with Conceptual Covers along the lines of Aloni and Port (2011) and Aloni (2012). This enables us (i) to derive the obligatory ignorance effect <i>irgend</i>-indefinites induce in specific uses and under epistemic modals, (ii) to account for the NPu and deoFC uses, and (iii) to explain the different behavior of the indefinite under different modals.

References

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