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Regularity and Idiomaticity in Grammatical Constructions: The Case of Let Alone Author(s): Charles J.

Fillmore, Paul Kay, Mary Catherine O'Connor Source: Language, Vol. 64, No. 3, (Sep., 1988), pp. 501-538 Published by: Linguistic Society of America Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/414531 Accessed: 11/08/2008 15:10
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REGULARITY AND IDIOMATICITY IN GRAMMATICAL CONSTRUCTIONS: THE CASE OF LET ALONE


O'CONNOR CHARLESJ. FILLMORE,PAUL KAY, and MARY CATHERINE

University of California, Berkeley


Through the detailed investigation of the syntax, semantics, and pragmatics of one grammatical construction, that containing the conjunction let alone, we explore the view that the realm of idiomaticity in a language includes a great deal that is productive, highly structured, and worthy of serious grammatical investigation. It is suggested that an explanatory model of grammar will include principles whereby a language can associate semantic and pragmatic interpretation principles with syntactic configurations larger and more complex than those definable by means of single phrase structure rules.*

BACKGROUND

1. This paper advocates an approach to grammarthat differs from most currentapproachesin several ways. The overarchingclaim is that the proper are units of a grammar more similarto the notion of constructionin traditional and pedagogicalgrammarsthan to that of rule in most versions of generative This is not to say that the generativeideal of explicitness is foregone; grammar. nor is the necessity of providingfor recursive productionof large structures from smaller ones set aside. Constructionson our view are much like the nuclear family (mother plus daughters)subtrees admitted by phrase structure that rules, EXCEPT (1) constructionsneed not be limited to a mother and her but may span wider ranges of the sententialtree; (2) constructions daughters, may specify, not only syntactic, but also lexical, semantic, and pragmaticinformation;(3) lexical items, being mentionablein syntactic constructions,may be viewed, in many cases at least, as constructionsthemselves; and (4) constructions may be idiomaticin the sense that a large constructionmay specify a semantics (and/orpragmatics)that is distinct from what mightbe calculated from the associated semanticsof the set of smallerconstructionsthat could be used to build the same morphosyntacticobject. in Not all currentapproachesto grammar the broad generativetradition,in which the currenteffort situates itself, differ from ConstructionGrammarin each of the respects detailedabove; for example, variousforms of phrasestructure grammartake as their basic unit a syntactic-semanticrule pair, thus integratingsemanticand syntactic modeling.But no frameworkin this tradition,
* We would like to acknowledge the good, if not always heeded, advice of Farrell Ackerman, Daniel Andler, George Bergman, Joan Bresnan, Claudia Brugman, Regina Bustamante, Linda Coleman, Amy Dahlstrom, Michelle Emanatian, Pierre Encrever, Gilles Fauconnier, Michel de Fornel, Mark Gawron, James Greeno, Jacqueline Gueron, Ron Kaplan, Ed Keenan, Paul Kube, George Lakoff, Tom Larsen, Monica Macaulay, Jim McCawley, Kiki Nikiforidou, Peter Norvig, Eric Pederson, Francois Recanati, Ivan Sag, Paul Schachter, Manny Schegloff, Barry Schein, Dan Sperber, Donca Steriade, Eve Sweetser, Len Talmy, James Watters, Bob Wilensky, Karl Zimmer, and three anonymous referees for Language. The work reported here was supported in part by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to the University of California at Berkeley. 501

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so far as we are aware, agrees with the approachadvocatedhere in all of these details. For instance, no currentformal approachto grammarcountenances direct pragmaticinterpretationof syntactic structures, not mediated by the propositionexpressed. All of the many competing accounts of the workings of language draw a distinctionin one way or anotherbetween what it is that speakersknow outright about their languageand what it is that they have to be able to figure out. For example, speakers of English have to know what red means and that it is an adjective, and they have to know what ball means and that it is a noun. They have to know that adjectives can co-occur with nouns in a modificationstructure (as in a phrase like red ball), and they have to know the proper strategies to for giving a semantic interpretation such adjective-nouncombinations.But have to know separately, or to be told, what the phrase red ball they do not means. Thatis somethingwhich what they alreadyknow enables them to figure out. Currentformal models of grammartake a severe view of the distinction between knowing and figuringout: they assign as much work as possible to the computingor figuringout part of knowinghow to use a language,and they those aspects of linguisticcompetencethat have attemptto keep at a minimum to be representedas stored or known. Briefly, the standardidealizationof the goes somethinglike this: workings of a grammar (a) The speakers of a languagehave, first of all, knowledgeof the WORDS in their language. This knowledge comprises informationabout what kinds of words they are, in what environmentsthey can appearand how they function in the language's phrases and sentences, what they mean, and how they are pronounced. (b) Secondly, speakers know one or more sorts of fairly elementaryGRAMMATICAL RULES in their language, rules by which simple phrases are constructed,by whichthese are combinedinto largerandmorecomplex structures, and by which they are selected or modifiedaccordingto their position in the larger structures. (c) Thirdly, they know the basic SEMANTIC INTERPRETATION PRINCIPLES by which the meanings of phrases and sentences can be constructed out of the meanings of their constituentwords and phrases. These principlesof compositional semantics are such that speakers do not in general need to know in advance the meanings of complex structures (i.e. phrases and sentences); rather,the meaningsof suchlargerstructuressimplyfollow fromthe knowledge of forms and rules that speakershave to know independently. (d) Fourthly, in knowing how to use their language, speakers know how to create and recognize associations between semanticallyinterpretedsentences and particulartypes of situations. Such PRAGMATIC knowledge uses but does not contributeto semantic interpretation.The notion of the 'literal meaning' of an expression does not, in short, incorporateinformationabout the uses to which the expression can be put, beyond (perhaps)the pairingof conventional speech act forces with particularsentence types, such as the imperativeand the interrogative.

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There is vast disagreementin matters of detail, but most current formal models of grammarassume a limited categorialbase and a limited set of configurationtypes upon which the rules of semantic interpretationare allowed to do their work. A commonly accepted categorial base is confined to the categories Sentence, Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverb, Adpositon (i.e. Preposition or Postposition), their phrasalprojections(the categories for which the named elements are heads), and a small number of associated trappingsof these, such as complementizers.In general, the permittedprimaryset of conterms can be spoken of figurationtypes is limitedto what in phrase-structural as the nuclear family: a configurationconsisting of a structuralcategory, the mother node, and its immediateconstituents, the daughternodes. The picturejust sketched gives us an atomistic view of complex linguistic objects: generativesyntax and compositionalsemanticsprovide the principles by which words whose meaningswe know, arranged accordingto grammatical structuring principleswhose semanticforce we know, figurein the construction of an unlimitedlylarge set of possible meanings. Under the idealizationjust discussed, any sentence in a languagecan be resolved into configurations containing only constituents of the designated types, arrangedaccording to the standardrules, andyieldinginterpretations which follow fromregularprinciples of compositionalsemantics. It should be noticed that the naturaland intuitively simple notion of grammatical constructionplays a limited part in the workings of this model. Traditional grammarsare likely to have descriptionsof the use and meaningof, say, negative questions, underthe suppositionthat such structuresmighthave certainpropertiesof their own, as wholes. (An utteranceof Didn't you like the salad? does more than ask a yes/no question.) In the atomistic view, which would not provide for a separate negative question construction, there is no way to treat the distinct semantic and pragmaticpropertiesthat emerge when negative and interrogativesyntax are combinedin an English sentence. (Moreover, there is evidence from the domainof negative contractionthat negative questions are syntactically,as well as semanticallyand pragmatically,distinct from other inverted negative structures;see Green 1985, Kay 1987:33fn.)1
1 Our purposehere was not to give an accuratesketch of currentframeworks,but to point up the absenceof a placewithinmostof themto dealwiththe complexitiesof the sortwe areexamining here-phenomena which we hold to be centralto any grammar, peripheral.In particular, not we wish to emphasizethat when constructionsare interpreted the productsof maximallygeneral as rules, no placeremains thegrammar spellingout thenon-predictable in for semanticsandpragmatics that is frequentlyconventionallyassociated with particular constructionssuch as those we will describe. Our rathersweeping sketch of the atomisticmodel is of course more appropriate a characas terizationof some currentframeworks thanothers. Thereare a numberof individuals who do not subscribeto the atomisticmodel and who have contributed workin the vein we arguefor here. to These includeDwightBolinger,GeorgeLakoff,AnnaWierzbicka, IgorMel'chuk,andothers.With these people, we also maintainthat pragmatics pervadesgrammar,i.e. is not confined to a few lexical items with associated conventionalimplicatures.Wierzbickain particular invested a has great deal of time in spellingout in detailthe rangeof implications meaningsof the patternsshe or describes, such as the tautologicalconstructionexemplifiedby the fixed phraseBoys will be boys (see Wierzbicka1987).

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AND As 1.1. IDIOMATICITY ITSDIMENSIONS. useful and powerful as the atom-

istic schema is for the description of linguistic competence, it doesn't allow to the grammarian account for absolutely everythingin its terms. As anyone or knows who has worked with practical grammar-writing with detailed text analysis, the descriptive linguist needs to append to this maximally general machinery certain kinds of special knowledge-knowledge that will account for speakers' ability to construct and understandphrases and expressions in their language which are not covered by the grammar,the lexicon, and the principlesof compositionalsemantics, as these are familiarlyconceived. Such a list of exceptional phenomenacontains things which are largerthan words, which are like words in that they have to be learned separatelyas individual whole facts about pieces of the language, but which also have grammatical structure,structureof the kind that we ordinarilyinterpretby appealingto the rules. This list is not merelya supplement operationof the generalgrammatical to the lexicon: it contains informationabout fully productivegrammatical patterns, includingwhat have been variouslyreferredto as 'minorsentence types', 'special constructions', and the like. This 'Appendixto the Grammar' be thoughtof as the repositoryof what can is IDIOMATIC the language. One of our purposes in this paper is to suggest in that this repository is very large. A second is to show that it must include descriptionsof importantand systematicbodies of phenomenawhich interact in importantways with the rest of the grammar,phenomena whose proper will understanding lead us to significantinsightsinto the workingsof language in general. A thirdis to make the case for a model of linguisticcompetence in which phenomenaof the sort we have in mind are not out of place. At this point we offer a brief survey of concepts from the domain of idiomaticity. We think of a locution or manner of speaking as idiomatic if it is assigned an interpretationby the speech community but if somebody who merely knew the grammarand the vocabularyof the languagecould not, by virtue of that knowledge alone, know (i) how to say it, or (ii) what it means, or (iii) whether it is a conventionalthing to say. Put differently, an idiomatic expression or construction is something a language user could fail to know while knowing everythingelse in the language.
1.1.1. ENCODING VERSUS DECODING IDIOMS. Following Makkai 1972, we an important distinction between IDIOMS ENCODING OF begin by recognizing and IDIOMS DECODING.2 decoding idiom is an expression which the language OF A
One particularly focus illuminated Wierzbicka'swork in this area is the question important by of derivation:are the semantico-pragmatic forces associated with particular constructionsto be Or on thoughtof as arbitrary? arethey interpretable the basis of universalmaximsof conversational behavior, augmentedby contextualfactors? We feel that a unified answer to this question does not exist, and that some constructionswill, in a process similarto the semanticdriftand freezing of certainlexical items, become non-transparent apparently and In arbitrary. any case, important as this issue is, our emphasisis somewhatdifferent.We wish to call attentionparticularly the to range of ways in which constructionsmay have obligatorypragmatic and semanticattachments. 2 The distinctionbetween decodingand encodingidioms is an important one, since a frequent in objectionto our claimsaboutthe extent of idiomaticity the productiveapparatus the language of

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users couldn't interpretwith complete confidence if they hadn'tlearnedit separately. With an encoding idiom, by contrast, we have an expression which language users might or might not understandwithout prior experience, but concerningwhich they would not know that it is a conventionalway of saying what it says. (Anythingwhich is a decoding idiom is also an encoding idiom, by these definitions, but there are encoding idioms which are not decoding
idioms.) The expressions kick the bucket and pull a fast one are examples of

both decoding and encoding idioms; expressions like answer the door, wide awake, and brightred are examples of encoding idioms only. That is, while it is likely that each expression of the lattergroupcould be understoodperfectly on first hearing,someone who did not know that they were conventionalways of saying what they say would not be able to predict their usability in these ways.3
IDIOMS. 1.1.2. GRAMMATICAL VERSUS EXTRAGRAMMATICAL Idioms can further

be divided into those which have words fillingproperand familiargrammatical structures, and those which have words occurringin constructionswhich the
rest of the grammar cannot account for. The so-called GRAMMATICAL IDIOMS include kick the bucket, spill the beans, blow one's nose, etc., where verbs

and noun phrases show upjust where you would expect them. But expressions
like first off, sight unseen, all of a sudden, by and large, so far so good, etc.,

have anomalous structures.Nothing we know about the rest of the grammar of English would enable us to predictthat these expressions are sayable in our language. Such expressions have grammaticalstructure, to be sure, but the structuresthey have are not madeintelligibleby knowledgeof the familiarrules of the grammarand how those rules are most generallyapplied. These, then,
are the EXTRAGRAMMATICAL IDIOMS. 1.1.3. SUBSTANTIVE VERSUS Yet another distinction that we FORMAL IDIOMS. need to make is that between SUBSTANTIVE LEXICALLY IDIOMS and FILLED or FORMAL LEXICALLY IDIOMS. or OPEN The examples of idioms given so far have

all been substantiveidioms: their lexical make-upis (more or less) fully specified. Formalidioms, by contrast, are syntactic patternsdedicatedto semantic and pragmaticpurposes not knowable from their form alone. It is the formal
is the suggestion that speakers should be able to interpret the intent of the expressions we discuss by making use of analogies from their linguistic knowledge or by depending on cognitive abilities not properly a part of the language faculty. It needs to be emphasized that linguistic competence is composed of two parts, not only the part that enables us to figure out what other people have said to us, but also the part that enables us to talk to them. 3 What we have here is actually a gradient or dine rather than a simple two-way distinction. At one extreme we find idioms in which every element is fixed, such as It takes one to know one. Close to that extreme are idiomatic expressions in which everything is specified except what Pawley & Syder 1983 refer to as inflection: In trip the light fantastic, the actual form of trip can vary (trips, tripping, etc.); in blow one's nose, the 'nose possessor' can vary (I blow my nose, you blow your nose); and so on. The best examples of formal idioms are special syntactic patterns whose use is not predictable from the 'regular' grammatical rules, as in expressions fitting the pattern Him, be a doctor? But even here we find lexically limited means of 'expansion' (Pawley & Syder 1983), allowing, say, What? Him, be a doctor?

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idioms which raise the most serioustheoreticalissues, and which hold our main interest in this paper. A fact which sometimes obscures the difference between substantive and formal idioms is that formal idioms can serve as host to substantive idioms. For example, there is a general syntactic patternillustratedby such sentences as 1: (1) The more carefullyyou do your work, the easier it will get. While 1 may be a novel creation using the syntactic pattern in question, 2 is a set expression that uses the same form. (2) The bigger they come, the harderthey fall.
1.1.4.
IDIOMS WITH AND WITHOUT PRAGMATIC POINT.

We find that in many

cases idiomatic expressions have special pragmaticpurposes associated with them. A largenumberof substantiveidiomshave obvious associatedpragmatic
practices (e.g. Good morning, How do you do?, once upon a time), but there

are many more which serve more contextuallyneutralpurposes (as with all of a sudden, by and large, and the like). In the case of formal idioms, we find the the X-er the Y-ertype to be more or less free of pragmaticcommitments, while others, like the type exemplifiedin Him be a doctor? (Akmajian1984), appear to exist in the service of specific pragmaticor rhetoricalpurposes.
1.2. A TYPOLOGY IDIOMATIC OF The EXPRESSIONS. contrasts and distinctions

we have just named provide us with the means for constructinga typology of idiomatic expressions. The differencebetween encoding and decoding idioms will not figure in the classification (thoughit is importantfor other reasons), since the questionof whetheran interpreter could figureout what an expression meant on first encounteringit cannot be established on general grounds. We will include examples of substantiveidioms in each of the three categories we develop, but our major interest will be in the formal idioms. In the end the formalidioms will be absorbedinto the categoryof grammatical constructions.
1.2.1. UNFAMILIAR PIECES UNFAMILIARLY ARRANGED. our first category, As

we consider the case of idiomswhich containunfamiliar pieces which are (necessarily) unfamiliarly combined-'necessarily' because, if the pieces are themselves unfamiliaror unique, there can be no standardprinciplesfor arranging them in largerpatterns.In the case of lexical idioms, the unfamiliar pieces are words which appearonly in the idiomin question,as in kithand kin, with might
and main, and the like.

As an example of a formal idiom, or grammaticalconstruction, which fits this category, we can returnto our the X-er the Y-er construction seen in 1 and 2 above. This structureis used for expressing a correlationbetween an independentvariableand a dependentvariable.The propositionsparticipating in the statement of correlationcan be derived from the lexico-syntactic form of the sentence's two main components. In a syntactic representationof ex. 1, shown in Figure 1, we see that the degree expression the more carefully is linked with the gap in you do your work [ ], and the degree expression the easier is linked with the gap in it will get [-]. The interpretation,then, is

LET ALONE S ? ADVP


+ Compar.
DET? + ADV' /

507

S
/\-+

AP
Compar.
\ DET? A /

Compar.

Compar./ , the easier it will get

The more carefullyyou do your work.

T I

ADVP

ilI

AP

1. FIGURE

as paraphrasable somethinglike 'The degree to which you do your work carefully will determinethe degree to which your work gets easy'. This use of the comparativeconstructionis unique; the use of the definite article that we find in this construction is not, so far as we can tell, found generally elsewhere in the language;4nor is the two-partstructureunitingthe foundin any of the standard two atypicalthe-phrases syntacticformsin English. that it is host to a large numberof fixed expressions, the In spite of the fact form has to be recognized as fully productive. Its memberexpressions are in principle not listable: unlimitedlymany new expressions can be constructed within its pattern,their meaningsconstructedby means of semanticprinciples specifically tied to this construction.
4 Historically,the definite article in this constructionhas an instrumental demonstrative(Old + EnglishOy)as its source. The same definitearticle comparativeadjectivesequence is found in a few other formulae(pointedout to us by L. Talmy);such as The better to see you with; all the
more reason to ...; so much the better; etc.

this It has been suggestedto us that synchronically use of the definitearticleis relatedto that found in superlativeexpressions:the best, the brightest,etc. Many aspects of this construction are suggestivelysimilarto partsof other constructions.However, when the syntax and semantics relationships emerge,at least nothingwhichspeakers of these are examinedin detail,no predictable could use to encode these meaningsif they were ignorantof the construction.The existence of a betweentwo constructions does not release similarity or relationship a partialsynchronic diachronic as to the languagelearnerfromthe obligation acquirethe construction such. The notionof encoding amongconstructionsmay help here. Suggestivepartialsimilarities important idiom is particularly constructionguess at what a token of it is intendedto the decoder who is ignorantof a particular convey, but our notion of a constructionis preciselywhat a speakerhas to know, independentof whateverelse he knows aboutthe language,in orderto encode correctlyan utteranceof this form, meaningand use. One reviewersuggestedthat this constructioncould profitablybe seen as an instanceof a more general 'pairedparallelphrases' construction,as exemplifiedby the proverbsCold hands, warm heart; Scratch a Russian, find a Tartar; Garbage in, garbage out; etc. The more general conbetweenthe two parallel relationship be structioncouldpresumably saidto encodethe implicational semanticsin examples like The more the phrases, thus providingan account of the implicational merrier. Such family resemblancesmay facilitate the decoding of such conventionalstructure/ meaningpairings.However, this more generalpaired parallelphrase constructionstill must be listed as havinga conventionalpairingof structureand meaning.

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With respect to the question of whetherthe expressions that instantiatethis it constructioncan be handledby the regulargrammar, is hardenoughto believe that the familiarrules of English can so much as provide us the terms needed for describingthe constructionand labelingits parts. Do we, indeed, have the right to describe the the here as the definite article? Combinedin what way with what? Whatis the constituentstructureof either half of the construction? Is the antecedentof the first gap the morecarefully(as indicated)more carefully or simply carefully?Once we decide on one or another constituent structure groupingof the elements, to what syntactic categories can we assign each of these constituents? If the whole sentence is made up of the two parts, what syntactic category is representedby each of the parts?If we ever decide what syntactic category each of the paired the-phrasesbelongs to, can we be satisfiied to say that the only grammatical rule in which the category figures is one which allows the construction of a sentence by juxtaposing exactly two of these? In describingthe pieces as unfamiliarwe must recognize that they are not all completely unfamiliar: example, the portionswhich follow the comparfor ative phrase have some of the ellipsis propertiesof the complements of true comparativephrases. But they differfrom ordinarycomparativeconstructions in a numberof ways. For example,these do not occur with the complementizer
than, but can sometimes occur with that (the more that I eat, ...). The level

at which the structure is most clearly unfamiliar(in the sense of not being represented elsewhere in the language)is the level of the paired the-phrases and their mode of combination.
The UNFAMILIARLY ARRANGED. second type of idioPIECES 1.2.2. FAMILIAR

matic expression includes those which are made up of familiarpieces which is are unfamiliarly combined.Here, too, the semanticinterpretation necessarily novel, since the principlesof combinationused for general semantic interpretations cannot serve us here. Substantiveidiomswhich fit this categoryinclude
phrases like all of a sudden and in point of fact. Some idioms in this category

are of the 'encoding only' type. That is, they require special syntactic and semanticrules, but the hearerof an expressionembodyingthese rules who was not familiarwith them might nonetheless guess the meaningsuccessfully. An example is the occurrenceof the barenoun home in contexts callingfor locative or directionalcomplements. home. (3) She went/called/stayed/is/*has/*loves An interestingformalidiomof this kindis the one which allows us to construct
cousin terms, as in second cousin three times removed. We consider now some

of the propertiesof this construction. The regular grammarof English provides for plural noun phrases lacking determiners,and when the head nouns or N-bars of these phrases denote symmetrical predicates, it provides an appropriateand general syntax and semantics for sentences with conjoined subjects and copular verbs, such as exx.4-6:

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(4) Jane and Mary are best friends.


(5) Harry and Joe are acquaintances of long standing. (6) Marge and Sue are bitter enemies.

Expressions for kinshiprelationsare standardexamplesof noun phrasesthat may fill this role and other NP roles in the regulargrammar: (7) Jane and Sue are sisters. (8) Harry and Sue are cousins. (9) Jane is Sue's sister. (10) Harry is Sue's cousin. Many kinship expressions that can fill such slots are not lexical (like cousin and sister), but phrasal.Moreover,neitherthe morphosyntactic rules required to generate these phrases nor the semanticrules requiredto interpretthem are predictablefrom knowledge of the general grammar;they have to be learned separately for the constructionand interpretationof these particularphrases by the learner of English. Some subsets of these kinship phrases are of finite cardinalityand so could be listed in the lexicon, althoughin so doing the grammarianwould pass up an opportunityto extract a generalization.The expressions mother-in-law, father-in-law, sister-in-law, brother-in-law, son-in-law,

and daughter-in-lawexemplify such a finite set. But there are other sets of kinship expressions that are in principle of non-finite cardinalityand hence unlistable, for example the series exemplifiedin 11-12: (11) grandmother, greatgrandmother, greatgreatgrandmother,...; grandfather, great grandfather, great great grandfather,...; grandson,... (12) first cousin once removed, first cousin twice removed; ...; second cousin once removed, second cousin twice removed,...; ... The morphosyntacticpropertiesof the infinite set of phrases indicatedin 12 may be summarizedby the formula (13) nth cousin m times removed, where n is a positive integer and m is a non-negativeinteger. (The expression 'nth' in the formulais intendedto abbreviate'the Englishword for the ordinal numbercorrespondingto the positive integer n'.) Note that nth cousin has the grammaticalstructure of fourth chapter, that m times has the grammatical structure of two ways, and that removed has that of rewritten. The regular syntactic machinerydoes not, however, provide us with the resources to assemble a nominal expression of the type fourth chapter three ways rewritten. This is the kind of situationwe have in mind when, in speakingof nth cousin m times removed, we talk about familiarpieces unfamiliarly combined. Standardmorphological rules operatewithinthese expressions to reduce one times to once and two times to twice. A morphosyntacticrule special to this constructionrealizes 'zero times removed' as the phoneticallynull string. The semantic rule associated with this phrasal constructionproduces a semantic form whose propertiesmay be describedas follows: Two distinctpeople X and Y are nth cousins m times removed iff (1) X and Y have a common ancestor, (2) the common ancestorclosest to eitherX or Y is n - 1 generationsremoved

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from that person and (3) either X or Y is m generationsfurtherremoved from the closest common ancestor than other is. the This semanticrule is illustratedin Figure2 for the expression second cousin four times removed;the downwardarrowrepresentsthe relation 'parent-of. As we have indicated, the internal syntax and semantics of such phrases embeddedwithin the generalgrammar,whose requirea special mini-grammar Externally,such propertiesare not deduciblefromthose of the largergrammar. expressions behave as normalsyntactic and semantic objects in the sentences in which they occur.

| n =

3; hence(n

1) = 2

./
Harry

\j \}4
Susan

Harryis the second cousin four times removedof Susan. Susan is the second cousin four times removedof Harry. Harry and Susan are second cousins four times removed.
2. FIGURE

idiom is made up of familiarpieces combined accordingto familiarcombinatorial principles,but to which idiomaticinterpretations assigned. Substanare tive idioms meeting these conditions include hang/tie one on (in the sense of
'get drunk'), pull someone's leg, and tickle the ivories. Formal idioms in this

1.2.3. FAMILIAR PIECES FAMILIARLY ARRANGED. The third type of formal

category include fate-temptingexpressions of the kind seen in now watch me drop it said by someone who has just picked up a tray of drinks, as well as rhetoricalquestions that convey negative messages: Who's gonna make me?, Am I invisible?, When did I say you could do that?, and so on.
FORMALIDIOMS:THECASEOF LET ALONE

2. We are interestedin investigating formalidioms. The formalidiomswhich interest us are of both the grammaticaland the extragrammatical kinds, and of both the encodingand the decodingvarieties. They include the the X-er the Y-ercase mentionedearlier,but also the constructionsunderlyingsuch expressions as those in 14: (14) a. b. c. d. e. There goes Charlieagain, rantingand raving about his cooking. Look who's here! what with the kids off to school and all Why not fix it yourself? He's not half the doctor you are.

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f. Much as I like Ronnie, I don't approve of anythinghe does. g. He may be a professor, but he's an idiot. h. Him be a doctor? i. What do you say we stop here? j. It's time you brushedyour teeth. k. One more and I'll leave. 1. No writingon the walls! m. That's not big enough of a box. n. It satisfied my every wish. In claimingthat each of these expressions exemplifiesa special grammatical construction or formal idiom, we claim that for each of them both of the following questions can be answered in the negative. (1) Does the expression exhibit properties that are fully predictablefrom independentlyknown properties of its lexical makeupand its grammatical structure?(2) Does the expression deserve to be listed in a generalphrasallexicon of the language,andtreated as a fixed expression?It is probablyunnecessaryto pointout thatit's sometimes difficult to know how to answer these two questions. Consider ex. 14h, illustratingwhat we may refer to as the IncredulityResponse Construction.This particularsentence exemplifies an indefinitelylarge set of English sentences (Your brotherhelp me? Her write a novel about the Spanish Inquisition?,...), discussed at length in Akmajian1984,which consist of a main clause sentence whose subject is in the objective case and whose verb is in the bare-stemform. If a person spoke English perfectly except for never having encountereda sentence from this indefinitelylarge set, he could obviously not acquireits membersone by one but wouldhave to learna general rule pairing a particularsyntactic form (notably featuring a non-nominative subject and a non-finitemain verb) with a specific pragmaticforce. (Roughly, such sentences must be used to challengeor question a propositionjust posed by an interlocutor.)No finite numberof additionsto the lexicon or phrasicon would do the trick. It is this sort of rule that we refer to as a 'formal idiom' or 'special grammatical construction'.
2.1. PRELIMINARIES. Ourcentralgoal in this paperis to illustratethe analysis of grammaticalconstructions in their pragmatic,semantic, and syntactic aspects, using that grammaticaldevice in English that incorporatesthe phrase let alone. Our aim in exploringthe propertiesof the let alone constructionis, of course, to discover whether they comprise a good example of the kind of semi-autonomous grammatical constructionthat interestsus. Let alone expressions have propertiessharedby manyotherconstructiontypes andlexical items in the language,so the argument aboutwhetherthey can be seen as instantiating an autonomousgrammatical constructionneeds to be conducted with care. It is our impression that let alone sentences possess a collection of properties that is uniqueto this particular family of expressions, and that they must therefore be given treatmentas the kind of formalidiom or special constructionwe have been discussing.

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Examples of sentences exhibitingthe let alone construction,with preceding context provided, include the following:5 (15) A: Did the kids get their breakfaston time this morning?
let BREAKFAST. B: I barely got up in time to EAT LUNCH, alone COOK

(16) A: I know that Louise is a picky eater, but I bought the kids some squid for dinner.
let B: I doubt you could get FREDto eat SHRIMP, alone LOUISE SQUID.

(17) A: You rememberthe battle of Verdun, don't you? B: I was too young to serve in WorldWarTwo, let alone WorldWar
ONE.

(18) A: Do you think anyone will mind if I take my clothes off before I jump into this quaintlittle water hazard?
B: Look, around here you can get arrested for going BAREFOOT, let alone for walking around NAKED.

(19) A: For Janey's birthdayparty I'm thinkingof serving Coca Cola, but I'm afraidlittle Seymour'sparentswill be annoyed. They seem like health-oriented types.
let B: Don't worry. Little Seymour's parents let him drink WHISKEY, alone COKE.

we As a first approximation can talk about let alone as a coordinatingconjunction, each of whose conjuncts contains a focused element. To provide a notation for developing the argumentsoffered below, we propose analyzing any let alone sentence as a syntactic structureof either of the following two types: (20) a. F (X A Y let alone B)
'I doubt you could get FREDto eat squid, let alone LOUISE.'

b. F (X A let alone B Y) 'I doubt you could get FRED,let alone LOUISE,to eat squid.' Here A and B are coordinated,prosodicallyfocused, and contrastingconstituents. X and Y are the neighboring, non-contrasting partsof the clause in which the coordinationoccurs. The type of coordinationis that by which the phrase let alone B is seen as parenthetical(to be discussed furtherbelow). As we will discuss at length below, let alone appearsto be a negative polarity item, and F at this point can be loosely designatedas a negative polarity triggerwhich has the rest of the sentence in its scope. (The entire construction, F (X A Y let alone X B Y), can of course occur embeddedwithin a largerstructure,the contents of which are not relevantto this analysis, e.g.: My observationswarrant the inference that [Fred will not eat shrimp, let alone squid].)
5 Although these are a Paired Focus Constructions (about which more later), capital letters are not intended to indicate what is in focus. Rather, they are intended to indicate which constituents or elements sound most natural to us when rendered as prosodically prominent. Sometimes the prosodically focused element is a member of the focused constituent; sometimes it is the entire focus. For a discussion of the prosodic realization of focused VPs vs. NPs vs. Ss, and prosodic concomitants of paired foci, see Selkirk 1984.

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the In demonstrating divisionjust named, we can examine sentence 21: doubt [he made COLONEL in WorldWar II], (21) [I A Y X F let alone [GENERAL.]] B
In 21, F is I doubt, X is he made, Y is in World War II, A is Colonel, and B is General.

We will have more to say about the operatorF below. Here we will simply point out that this element may be external(in surfacestructure)to the portion of the sentence yielding the (X A Y let alone B) element, but that it may also occur clause-internally,as the simple negative does in 22: (22) He doesn't like SHRIMP, let alone SQUID. In fact, the element F must be understoodabstractlyenough to correspondin certain sentences to a grammatical propertydistributed throughouta sentence, such as the semantico-grammatical propertyof being a rhetoricalquestion: (23) Who could IMAGINE such a thing, let alone DO it? The syntactic schematagiven in 20 and 21 can be taken as correspondingto the semantic schema in 24, where F' is a semanticpredicatederived from the syntactic element F. (24) F' (X A Y) and F' (X B Y) A second semantic requirementof a let alone sentence is that the two semantic structuresof the schema above representpoints on a scale, in a way to be described below. This backgroundaffects the illocutionarystrength of the two clauses, so that F' (X B Y) is being posed with greaterforce than F' (X A Y) and for the very reasonthat the latteris posed. If I doubtthat he made colonel, I doubt all the more that he made general. The pragmaticfunction of a let alone sentence is to enable the speaker to respond to a situation in which an expression of the meaning F' (X B Y) is RELEVANT, but in which expression of the meaning F' (X A Y) is more INsensitive to a FORMATIVE. The construction, in other words, is pragmatically conflict between two Griceanmaxims, the maximof informativeness(or Quantity) and the maximof relevance(or Relation).It presents the more informative propositionfirst. As the examples above illustrate,the use of the let alone constructionallows the speakerto simultaneouslyaddress a previouslyposed proposition,6and to redirect the addressee to a new propositionwhich will be more informative.
6 given Of course, the posed propositionmay simply be part of the unspoken, pragmatically context. Utteringa let alone sentence in an 'out of the blue' fashion simply causes hearers to

expand their shared base of presuppositions. If hearers don't already realize that the content of the second conjunct is somehow given by the non-linguistic context, they accommodate (Lewis 1979) by adding it to their store of shared assumptions. An example of accommodation is readily available: in the context for ex. 17, readers who did not know that the Battle of Verdun took place in World War I will automaticallyhave inferredthat it did after they understandB's let alone

utterance.

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The context propositionplays an importantrole in our understanding the of construction, since it is the denial of the informativenessof this context proposition that determineswhat can and what cannot count as the syntactic operator F and its semanticprojectionF'.
2.2. THESYNTAX LETALONE. OF Syntactically, let alone can be characterized

as follows: it is a kind of conjunction;constructionscontainingit are examples


of PAIRED FOCUS the CONSTRUCTIONS; post-let alone part of a sentence of this

let type is a particular type of sentence fragment; alone appearsto be a negative toleranttype, which permitsunder certain conpolarity item of a particularly textual conditions (to be discussed below) utterancesof sentences such as 1819; and the constructioncreates special syntactic problemsfrom the fact that it permits multiplepaired foci in a single sentence. Each of these points will be taken up in turn.
AS 2.2.1. LETALONE A COORDINATE CONJUNCTION. expression let alone The

(generally)pairs two grammatically equivalentconstituents.The interpretation of the sentence as a whole depends on constructingtwo sentences, each of which needs to be given an evaluation.(Thatis, if the sentence is an assertion, both the version containingA and the version containingB need to be true.) Its conjuncts comprise (at least) two paired foci, elements by which the two sentences being compareddifferfrom each other.
The phrase let alone functions like a coordinating conjunction, in that it

occurs in a wide varietyof sententialenvironments where ordinarycoordinating occur. Considerexx. 25-30: conjunctions let (25) a. I don't even want to readan articleABOUT, alone a book written
BY, that swine.

b. I don't want to read an article about, or a book written by, that


swine. to (26) a. You couldn't get JOHNto TOUCH let alone LUCILLE EATit. it,

b. I want John to write it and Lucille to recite it.


let (27) a. Max won't eat SHRIMP, alone SQUID.

b. We'll need shrimpand squid.


the let the (28) a. Max won't TOUCH SHRIMP, alone CLEAN SQUID.

b. I want you to cook the shrimpand clean the squid.


let (29) a. They couldn't make JOHNeat the SHRIMP, alone LUCILLE the SQUID.

b. They made John eat the shrimpand Lucille the squid.


to let (30) a. He wouldn't give A NICKEL his MOTHER, alone TENDOLLARS
to a COMPLETE STRANGER.

b. He gave a nickel to me and a dollar to my sister. We find in these examples many of the propertiesassociated with coordinating conjunctions:coordinatingconjunctionsjoin like categories (illustrated above with VPs, clauses, andNPs), andthey permitrightnode raising,gapping, stripping,conjunctionreduction,various sorts of nonconstituentconjunction,

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etc. Yet we also find in these and other let alone sentences some properties that are not found in propercoordinateconjunction.7 For example, there is little reason to believe that the entire sequence A let alone B is a constituent. The following examples mightlead us to assume that let alone does not conjoin phrases. Consider the asymmetry between true phrasal coordinationand a let alone phrase with respect to topicalization: (31) a. Shrimpand squid Moishe won't eat. b. *Shrimplet alone squid Moishe won't eat. c. *ShrimpMoishe won't eat and squid. d. ShrimpMoishe won't eat, let alone squid.8 from one side of a let alone phrase is also sometimes easier WH-extraction than similar extraction from a coordinationcontainingand. Although 32b is it not unexceptionablygrammatical, seems better to us than 32a.9 (32) a. *a man who Mary hasn't met or ridden in his car b. ?a man who Mary hasn't met, let alone riddenin his car IT-cleftingis possible with the full constituentof a coordinateconstruction, but not with let alone. Notice 33 and 34:
and syntax of propercoordinateconjunctions 7 We are aware that the semantics, pragmatics, are themselvesnot perfectlyunderstood,and so specifyingin completedetailthe departures let of alone from this normwould be well beyond the scope of the present work. It may be that some of the syntacticpeculiaritiesof let alone correlatewith certainaspects of its semantics and pragmaticsaccordingto regularitiesthat we have not yet discovered. To the extent that this is the case, the accountgiven here of the let alone constructioncould be reduced as such discoveries were made and the more generalpropertiesdiscoveredassigned to distinct, perhapsmore abstract,constructions. 8 It has been suggestedto us that 31b mightbe bad for a reason unrelatedto the constituency or non-constituencyof a sequence of the formA let alone B, namelythat in 31b let alone occurs outside the scope of the entitlingnegation.This hypothesiscan be checked by consideringcases in which there is no entitlingsurfacenegative, the negativepolaritytriggerconsistingonly of the the pragmaticdenial of the context proposition.Underthese circumstances hypothesisaccording to which 31b is bad on account of let alone appearing outside the scope of negationpredictsthat topicalized A let alone B sequences should be okay. But they are not. On this hypothesis, (iii) should be just as good as (ii) in a discoursecontext that permits(i). (i) They've brokenup Penutian,let alone Macro-Penutian. (ii) Penutianthey've brokenup, let alone Macro-Penutian. they've brokenup. (iii) *Penutian,let alone Macro-Penutian, 9 On the other hand, there are cases in which extractionfrom a true coordinatestructureis unexceptionable(cf. Lakoff 1986and the literaturecited therein)while extractionfrom the correspondinglet alone sentence is impossible.Compare(i) and (ii): (i) That's the kind of adventurethat you don't go home and tell your motherabout. (ii) *That'sthe kind of adventurethat you don't go home let alone tell your motherabout. about. (iii) That's not the kind of movie that you get scaredand have nightmares about. (iv) ?That'snot the kind of movie that you get scared let alone have nightmares The differencein relativeacceptability withinthe pair(i)-(ii) fromthatwithinthe pair(iii)-(iv) has much to do with semantic differencesbetween and and let alone. Lakoff's explanationof the constrainton non-across-the-board scenario extractionwith andhingeson the type of interpretative evoked by the entire conjunctionof verb phrases.

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(33) *It's shrimplet alone squid that Max won't eat. (34) It's shrimpand squid that Max won't eat. Some propertiesof the kinds of sentence fragmentsavailablein the second conjunct of a let alone sentence show them to be similarto the than-clauseof a comparativeconstruction,as seen in 35-38: (35) Max won't eat shrimp,let alone Rabbi Feldstein. (36) Max ate more shrimpthan Rabbi Feldstein. (37) Minnie wasn't born by 1941, let alone Meg. (38) Minnie was born much earlierthan Meg. VP ellipsis, possible with coordinated constructions and comparative
clauses, is not possible with let alone.

(39) Max will eat shrimpmore willinglythan Minnie will. (40) Max won't eat shrimpbut Minnie will. (41) *Max won't eat shrimplet alone Minnie will.
In many of its uses, the let alone conjunction has much in common with

what we might speak of as parentheticallyused conjunctions. These form a constituentwith their second conjunct,appearingeither next to their first conjunct with parenthesis intonation, or extraposed to the end of their clause. Examples of such parentheticalconjunctionscan be seen in 42-46: (42) a. John'll do it for you, or maybe Bill. b. John won't do it for you, let alone Bill. (43) a. John was there, and Louise (too). b. John wasn't there, let alone Louise. (44) a. I wanted Fred to do it, ratherthan Sue. b. I didn't want Fred to do it, let alone Sue. (45) a. Louise surely understoodit, if not Susan. b. Louise surely didn't understandit, let alone Susan. (46) a. I bet Louise, not to mention Susan, could pass that test. b. I bet Louise, let alone Susan, couldn't pass that test. 2.2.2. LETALONEAS A PAIRED FOCUS CONSTRUCTION. The let alone construction has several features in common with what are sometimes called FOCUS CONSTRUCTIONS (see Prince 1981 for a review of the unique aspects of each construction). Pseudoclefts, clefts, leftward movement constructions like Topicalization,and YiddishMovementare commonlyheld to have the function of foregroundinga particularelement, the Focus constituent. Each of these has its own prosodicand syntactic characteristicswhich, togetherwith its particular semantics and pragmatics,differentiateit from the others in its class. Similarly,in the class of constructionswe describe here, each has idiosyncrasies and particularities which distinguishit from the others. However, just as the constructionscited above can be characterized a groupby the appearance as of some phrasalconstituent at the left-most point of an English sentence, so these can be grouped on the basis of several structural features. Some examples:

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(47) (48) (49) (50) (51)

He doesn't get up for LUNCH, alone BREAKFAST. let He doesn't get up for LUNCH, much less BREAKFAST. She didn't eat a BITE,never mind a WHOLE MEAL. She didn't eat a MEAL, just a SNACK. She beat SMITH chess, not to mention JONES. at

Each of these examplescontainsa completeclause, followed by a connective 10 of some sort, followed by a fragment. The fragmentbears a certainrelationship to some part of what we have called the context sentence. The fragment and the constituent that it correspondsto are both in focus (in a way to be discussed below at length), as is shown by the prosody typically associated with them, and their pragmaticstatus (also to be discussed below). In these double focus constructions, the unmarkedprosodic shape consists of prominence on both the first and the second focused elements. Thus:
(52) She doesn't get up for LUNCH, let alone BREAKFAST.

All of these constructions allow the speaker (1) to make an assertion or contradict some proposition implied or asserted by another speaker, by foconstituentof thatproposition;and (2) to reset the value cussing on a particular of that constituent, as it were.1l
2.2.3.
SENTENCE FRAGMENTS AND THE COMPLEMENTOF LET ALONE.

A full ac-

count of the syntax of let alone would ideally be embeddedwithin a comprehensive theory of the syntax and semanticsof sentence fragments.That is, the syntax (and semantics) of a sentence like 53 would form part of a general formulationof the syntax and semanticsof sentences like 54-57, which contain what we might call fragment-taking conjunctions and whose semantic interpretation requires the reconstructionfrom the fragment of a full semantic clause.
let (53) John hardly speaks RUSSIAN alone BULGARIAN.

(54) John speaks Russian, if not Bulgarian. (55) John speaks Russian, in fact Bulgarian(too). (56) John doesn't speak Bulgarian, just Russian. (57) John killed a shark, and with his bare hands. Most approachesto fragment-creating phenomenato date have been rather piecemeal, involving, for example, separate and unrelated rules of gapping, conjunctionreduction,rightnode raising,stripping,and the like, and containing little if any analysis of constructionscontainingconjunctionslike if not, in fact, but only, just, and so on. We also are not preparedto present an integrated account. In ?2.3.1, however, we say enough about the constraintswhich the particularcase of let alone would place on any unified and encompassingac10A classical transformational analysis would describe these fragments as having undergone deletion under identity with material in the preceding clause by some process that shares characteristics of Stripping (Hankamer 1971). A nontransformational analysis could have recourse to a process that would copy the functional structure of the context sentence onto the fragment (Levin 1982). Our analysis does not depend on the form of the solution. n The let alone construction shares certain prosodic and semantic properties with other paired focus constructions, such as Gapping and Comparative Subdeletion (Selkirk 1984).

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count of fragment-creating phenomenato permit us to present the semantic


analysis of let alone without equivocation. It was noted above that let alone does not permit VP ellipsis. This follows from a more general property of the let alone construction. In stating this

by principlewe will refer to the INFL-complex, which we intend to denote the surface constituent that contains a tensed auxiliaryand negation when these are present: in a let alone sentence, the INFL-complex part (or all) of the F is element whenever the F element receives surface expression. Note the contrast between 58 and 59. (58) Louis won't eat shrimpand (Sarah)will/won't eat squid. (59) *Louis won't eat shrimplet alone (Sarah)will/won't eat squid. This does not, of course, amount to a GENERALprohibitionon tense and negation in the fragment.When the F element is externalto the (X A Y) clause, a tensed or negatedelementmay appearin the fragmentsince the INFL-complex/ F-element principleis, so to speak, already satisfied. (60) I doubt the party criticized him at all, let alone told him not to run for office. As suggested in note 8, tense and negationmay also appearin the fragment when there is no F element-that is, when the F' element is purelypragmatic. (61) A: Did the most recent research confirm the Macro-Penutian hypothesis?
B: The latest results dissolved PENUTIAN alone didn't support let MACRO-PENUTIAN .

2.2.4. LETALONE negativepolarityitem. In earlierversions of this paper as a we were convinced that let alone was a straightforward negativepolarityitem, believing that it was welcome only in sentences which provide 'affective' (Klima 1964)contexts for it. The set of possible F's included simple negation, too complementation, comparisonof inequality,only as determinerof the subject, and various minimalattainmentqualifiers,these and more illustratedin examples 62-70:
(62) (63) (64) (65) (66) He didn't reach DENVER, alone CHICAGO. let I'm too tired to GET let alone GORUNNING UP, with you. She gave me more candy than I could CARRY, alone EAT. let Only a linguist would BUYthat book, let alone READ it. I barely got up in time for LUNCH, alone BREAKFAST. let
CALISTHENICS.

(67) I had all I could do to get out of BED,let alone do my morning


(68) It would surprise me if JOHNcould pass the test, let alone BILL.

(69) He failed to reach the sixth GRADE, alone get a B.A. let
(70) Anyone who'd been to HIGH SCHOOL, alone GRADUATE let students in MATH, should be able to solve that problem.

Since all of these are contexts welcomingany (one of the tests for a negative polarity environment),and since most of the let alone sentences we encountered in the first months of our inquiry were negative affect sentences, we

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concluded that negative polaritywas one of the special propertiesof this construction.'2However, attested sentences like 71 and 72 began to accumulate,
forcing the conclusion that if let alone is in fact a negative polarity item, it is

not simply and straightforwardly one.


(71) You've got enough material there for a whole SEMESTER, alone a let
WEEK.

has (72) PENUTIAN been broken up, let alone MAcRo-Penutian. The troublesomefacts of the matter are that (1) it is very hard to think up convincingexamples of let alone sentences withoutthe usual negativepolarity cases of attested uttertriggers, and (2) we have come across incontrovertible ances of non-negativelet alone sentences that seem perfectlynaturalandwhich there is no apparent justificationto ignore as performanceerrors. Our explanatory speculationis as follows. Considerthe sentences in 71-72. We have no record of the contexts in which they were uttered, but we imagine they may have been somethinglike those providedby speakerA in 73: (73) a. A: I doubt I have enough materialhere for a week.
B: You've got enough material there for a whole SEMESTER, let alone a WEEK.

b. A: Macro-Penutian still a viable hypothesis, isn't it? is


B: PENUTIAN been broken up, let alone MAcRO-Penutian. has Note that in both 73a and 73b the fragmentclause of the let alone sentence

uttered by B is the denial of the context sentence utteredjust previously by A. That is, the first speaker suggests that there is not enough materialfor a week or that Macro-Penutian still considered a serious hypothesis. In both is cases the second speaker B offers as the contextuallyrelevant part of his let alone response the negationof the context sentence. It appearsthat, given the strong pragmaticrequirementof the let alone constructionfor a context sentence, for some speakersat least the DENIAL the context sentence has enough of negative affect to serve as a polaritytriggerfor let alone.13
12 In addition, let alone seemed in many ways to be syntactically exactly like much less, which is a standard negative polarity item, and like the German equivalent of let alone, namely geschweige denn, which is described in German dictionaries as limited to occurrence in negative sentences. 13 In fact there are people who get pure positive let alone sentences like the following:

(i) A: He was pleased. B: He was delighted, let alone pleased.

There are two distinctstorieswe can give regarding grammar let alone for such speakers. the of First story: let alone is a negativepolarityitem for such speakers,but B's disagreement with the level of informativeness A's contribution of carriesfor him sufficientnegative affect that it can serve as a negative polaritytrigger.For this same speaker, if the context had been as in (ii) we could say that let alone is also negativepolarity,but here it is disagreement with the content of the context proposition(i.e. denialof it) which serves as the negativepolaritytrigger.
(ii) A: He wasn't pleased. B: He was delighted, let alone pleased. The second story is simply that let alone has no polarity requirement in this speaker's grammar. The one thing we know for certain is that it is much easier to make up and get agreement for negative polarity let alone sentences. This may or may not reflect an actual usage situation in

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2.2.5.

We have already ob-

served that the A and B parts can be multiple. That is, there can be multiple
matched foci in the two parts of the let alone sentence, as in 74.

(74) You'd never get a poor man to wash a car for $2 in bad times, let alone a rich man to wax a truck for $1 in prosperoustimes. An importantand puzzlingcharacteristicof the multiplepaired-focusversions is the possibility of multipleuse of let alone in the same sentence, as is seen
in 75.

(75) You'd never get a poor man, let alone a rich man, to wash, let alone wax, a car, let alone a truck, for $2, let alone $1, in bad times, let alone in prosperoustimes. Multiplepairedfocus sentences of the type just illustratedprovide evidence for the scalar semanticnatureof the let alone construction.The details will be developed in ?2.3. below. Here we limitour attentionto the interestingsyntactic problemswhich the existence of such sentences raises. We note the existence of two sentence forms with the same meaning,illustratedby 76 and 77: (76) You couldn't get a poor man to wash your car for two dollars, let alone a rich man to wax your truck for one dollar. (77) You couldn't get a poor man, let alone a rich man, to wash, let alone wax, your car, let alone your truck, for two dollars, let alone for one dollar. The first thing to notice is that the second syntactic form, in which each pair of focus elements is linked by an instance of let alone, is possible only when the multiple prosodic foci represent multiple propositions in semantic interpretation.Thus, ex. 78a, with a single let alone, cannotbe paraphrased 78b, as which contains multipleinstances of let alone. (78) a. You'll never get Gorbachevto denounce communism,let alone Reagan to denounce capitalism. b. ??You'll never get Gorbachev, let alone Reagan, to denounce communism,let alone capitalism. Leaving aside the problemof how to formalize this fact perspicuously, we turn to the problemof representingthe varyingsyntacticforms of the multiple focus/multiplepropositionsentences themselves. To describethe distributional facts, we must adopt some fairlyprecise idiom. The idiom we find convenient, without makingany theoreticalcommitmentto it, is that of an older form of transformational grammar,one which countenanceda wide variety of transformationalrules convertingstructuresof one specified type into structuresof another specified type. In such a framework,we could posit an underlying structurefor multiplefocus/multiplepropositionlet alone sentences along the lines of 79:
(79) X1A1X2A2...XnAnXn+1let alone X1B1X2B2.. .XnBnXn+l
which tokens of let alone occur more frequently in negative polarity contexts. If the acceptability judgements are an accurate reflection of usage, then we must conclude that the positive polarity dialects are rare. In the remainder of this paper we will continue to treat let alone as a (normal) negative polarity item which presents the stronger item first.

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Here the various Xs are syntactic variables and the As and Bs are the contrastively focused elements. This underlyingform would then be realized on the surface in sentences having only one instance of let alone by deleting some or all of the right-hand X variables. As our discussion of the status of let alone as a conjunction showed, exactly which combinationof deletions would be possible, depending on the detailedconstituentstructureof the sentence, mightbe difficultto specify accordingto generalprinciples.A substantialfractionof the constraintson deletions associated with let alone conjunctionappearnot to be deduciblefrom knowledge of general rules that mention the syntactic category conjunction. A more serious problemarises with respect to the syntax of sentences containingmultipletokens of let alone. In these sentences, any unbrokensequence of the right-hand focused elements (the Bs) can be moved to the left and conjoined with a precedinglet alone to the correspondingA focused element sequence. For example, all of the following sentences are possible. (80) A poor man, let alone a rich man, wouldn't wash your car for $2, let alone wax your truck for $1. (81) A poor man wouldn't wash your car, let alone a rich man wax your truck, for $2, let alone for $1. (82) A poor man wouldn't wash, let alone a rich man wax, your car for $2, let alone your truckfor $1. Note that each of the three precedingexamples means the same as 83: (83) A poor m_ii wouldn'twash your car for $2, let alone a rich man wax your truck for $1. What can be concluded from these sentences is, in effect, that to any stretch of the form Ai ... Aj we can conjoin the stretch of the form let alone Bi ... Bj, removing this stretch from the right-handside, as in a poor man wash your
car, let alone a rich man wax your truck, or a poor man, let alone a rich man, wash your car, let alone wax your truck. Variables (non-focused elements) on

the right get deleted if they are flanked by moved B elements. To state this transformation, indices on the A and B elements would have the to be mentioned in both the structuraldescriptionand the structuralchange. The ordinary language of expressing structuraldescriptions and structural changes would not, of course, permitthis. It is unclearto us how dependencies of this type could be representedin traditionaltransformational grammar.In fact, it appearsthey could not, withouta radicalredefinitionof transformation, making it a more powerfuldevice. It would seem that the perspicuous representation of dependencies of this kind might pose an interestingproblem in current syntactic frameworksas well. We have been able to find only one other constructionof English which has this peculiar syntactic property, though the semantics of this formal idiom differs considerably from the semantics of let alone. We have in mind the constructionthat employs the discontinuousconjunctionnot...but... Note the parallelismbetween 84-87 below and 80-83 above. (84) Ivan sent, not an albumto Albaniafor Anna on her anniversary,but a book to Bulgariafor Boris on his birthday.

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(85) Ivan sent, not an albumbut a book, (and)not to Albaniafor Anna on her anniversary,but to Bulgariafor Boris on his birthday. (86) Ivan sent, not an albumto Albaniafor Anna, but a book to Bulgaria for Boris, (and)not on her anniversarybut on his birthday. (87) Ivan sent, not an album to Albania but a book to Bulgaria, not for but Annabut for Boris, and not on her anniversary on his birthday. The syntax of not...but... is not in generalidenticalto that of let alone, as the former exhibits some special constraints, particularlyinvolving subject and verb foci. Nevertheless, as illustratedin 80-83 and 84-87, both constructions possess the propertyjust discussed.'4 Failing our or someone else's success in accountingfor these dependencies the throughsome generalprincipleof grammar, most prudentconclusionwould constraints appearto be that the learnerof Englishacquiressuch distributional as a part of the learningof a small numberof special constructions, perhaps exactly two. If no more general solutionis to be found (andwe will be pleased if some of our readers can find it and will tell us about it), we will be forced to conclude that a small class of lexical items may possess syntacticproperties that require descriptive devices of surprisingmathematicalpower, which are quite general within the sentences containingthem, but which are apparently absent from general grammar.
OF 2.3. THESEMANTICS LETALONE. We saw that syntacticallya let alone sentence allowed an initial analysis into the components F (X A let alone B Y), with the proper adjustmentsin case there is more than one pair of elements which the constructionputs into contrast. The process of constructinga semanticinterpetationof a let alone sentence begins with building(for each contrastingpairof As and Bs) two sentences, one with A and one with B, in which
14 The let alone construction displayscertainsyntacticsimilarities andalso markedsyntactic to, differences from, the respectively and vice versa constructions. An extended comparison would take us too far afield. But briefly, let alone shareswith respectively the unusual,thoughof course

by no means unknown,phenomenonof crossed dependency. (i) a. Fred and Louise hated their shrimpand squidrespectively. b. Fred, let alone Louise, wouldn'tordershrimp,let alone squid, at Jack-In-The-Box. the The let alone constructionshareswith the vice versa construction relatedand seeminglymore generalpropertyof havingdependencieswhichare basedon linearorder,regardlessof constituent this structure.For the let alone construction property(andothers)are illustrated sentences 80by 83. In the items in (ii) below, the sentence that is most likely to be impliedby vice versa involves interchangeof subjectand object, subjectand prepositional object, and object and prepositional object, respectively. (ii) The chef always helps the owner with his problemsand vice versa. The chef always saves his best jokes for the owner and vice versa. The chef always substitutesshrimpfor squid and vice versa. In the following sentence, some people get all three types of readings. (iii) The chef always complainsto the owner about the headwaiterand vice versa. The point is that whateverimpenetrable mysteriesthe vice versa constructionmay hold, it seems to operate on linearorderin a mannerthat is imperviousto constituency,as also can be true for as the let alone construction exemplifiedin 80-83. (Forthese andotherfacts aboutthe respectively construction,see McCawley1976;for vice versa see Fraser 1970.)

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523

the syntactic F element is representedby the semantic F' element, in the formula F' (X A Y). In the simplestcase, the case in whichthe F constituentis simplygrammatical negation, we can say that the sentence simply asserts both 'not(X A Y)' and
'not(X B Y)'. (That is, from He didn't make colonel, let alone general we

derive two propositions-that he did not makecolonel and thathe did not make general.) The general effect of the construction is to assert the first and to suggest that the second necessarily follows, and so the relation between the two parts, 'not(X A Y)' and 'not(X B Y)', is one of entailment. ('He didn't make colonel; a fortiori, he didn't make general.') But it is not simply an entailmentrelation. In particular,the entailmentin this case must be againstthe of of background a presupposedsemanticscale. The interpretation any let alone sentence requires seeing the two derived propositionsas points on a scale. A second and essential step in the interpretation a let alone sentence, then, of requiresthe constructionof a scale in which the A propositionand the B proposition are distinct points. The discussion in this section will concentrate on (1) the interpretationof the sentence fragmentcontainingor constitutingthe B constituent;(2) the nature of the entailmentrelationthat holds between the A part and the B part; (3) the dimensions and scalar relationspresupposedby a use of the construction; (4) the special case of complex scales (correspondingto the use of the constructionwith multiplepairedfoci); and (5) the roles of negativeandpositive polarity in the interpretation the entailmentrelationship. of
2.3.1. THE INTERPRETATION SENTENCE OF FRAGMENTS.It is our job here to

present the salient syntacticand semanticfacts aboutthe let alone construction and to suggest their relevance for grammatical theory generally. While among these suggestions will be a claim that some of these facts are not readily accommodatedwithinexistinggrammatical theories,we do not attemptto present a new formalframeworkof our own. Consequently,it shouldnot be surprising that we come uponfacts whose certaindesignationas syntacticversus semantic is not intuitively given and must wait upon a fully explicit treatmentthat establishes this distinctionformally, if such a formal distinctionis justified. We will continue here to use the idiom of the older form of transformational grammar as a heuristic, descriptivedevice, without intendingany theoreticalcommitmentregardingthe issue of whetherthe phenomenawe consider are really syntactic or semantic. It will be recalled that a let alone sentence containingn pairs of foci may contain any numberof tokens of let alone between 1 and n (the interpretation of such an expansion being, however, contingenton the independenceof the dimensions, as discussed with respect to ex. 78). In the simplest case, n of course equals 1. It will be furtherrecalled that any sentence containingmore than one token of let alone, such as 75, means the same as another let alone sentence that containsjust one instance of let alone, such as 74. In general, given the restrictionto independentdimensions, any let alone sentence con+1 tainingn pairedfoci belongsto a set of 2n _ 1 synonymouslet alone sentences containingthese same pairedfoci. The membersof the set differ of course in

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the number and placement of tokens of let alone (as well as in semantically whethervarious non-focusedelements occur more irrelevantdetails regarding than once on the surface or are deleted underidentity after their initial occurrence). Thus, when we have specified the semantics of an n-focus let alone sentence containinga singletoken of let alone, we have specifiedthe semantics of every other memberof the set of sentences syntacticallyderivablefrom this one by the process described in ?2.2.5. If we take the process of syntactic derivationdescribed in ?2.2.5 literally, we are accountingfor the relations of intersententialsynonymy thereby specified with a syntactic as against an interpretive process. Our need here, however, is merely to establish that these relations of synonymy exist, and we abjureany position on the issue whether a fully explicit theory shouldprovidea syntacticor a semanticaccount of these relations. What we need to establish for present purposes is no more than the following: a semanticaccount of all the sentences containinga single token of let alone is a semantic account of all let alone sentences. Consequently, for the remainderof this section (2.3), we may use the expression 'let alone sentence' as a shorthandfor 'let alone sentence containinga single token of let alone' without loss of generality. The interpretation a let alone sentence of the form in 88 proceeds first by of restorationof any X element on the rightof the let alone that may have been deleted, yielding the abstractform in 89: let (88) F[X1A1...XnAnXn+? alone (Xl)B2 (Xn)Bn(Xn+l)] let (89) F[X1A1...XnAnXn+1 alone X1B1... BnXn+] Xn For example, from an actual sentence such as 90 an abstract structureis reconstructed that can be representedby 91: at (90) You could never get Fred to eat SHRIMP Jack-in-the-Boxlet alone
SQUID.

(91) You could never get (Fred to eat shrimpat Jack-in-the-Boxlet alone Fred to eat squid at Jack-in-the-Box). In the precedingexamplethe abstractstructurehappensto correspondclosely to an acceptable surface sentence, but in other cases this is not so, as when the F element is simple negation.For example, reconstructionof 92 yields 93. (92) Fred won't eat shrimpat Jack-in-the-Box,let alone squid. (93) Not (Fred will eat shrimpat Jack-in-the-Boxlet alone Fred will eat squid at Jack-in-the-Box). of Succeeding stages of the interpretation a let alone sentence involve obtaining propositionalinterpretationsP1 and P2 of the sentences of the form and X1A1...XnAnXn+1 X1B1. ..XnBnXn+1, respectively; and obtainingfrom F the semanticoperatorF' in such a way that the form of the meaningof the full sentence is as in 94: (94) F'(P1);F'(P2) We now proceed to a descriptionof these processes and the constraintsthey exhibit.
2.3.2. THE ENTAILMENT RELATION: PRESUPPOSED DIMENSIONS AND SCALES. A

sentence about the unlikelihood of Fred eating shrimp let alone squid is a

LET ALONE

525

sentence whose user presupposes(let us say) a dimensionof distastefulnessrecognizingthat while a numberof people find all sorts of seafood distasteful, more people are willing to eat shrimpthan are willing to eat squid. A sentence
about somebody being surprised at Fred eating squid let alone Louise is one

whose user presupposes a dimension of squeamishnessby which Louise is taken to be consistently more squeamishthan Fred: there are things that Fred would eat which Louise would not eat, but not the other way round. And the sentence in 95 presupposes a complex two-dimensionalscale combining the squeamishnessof diners with the yuckiness of exotic food.
(95) You could never get Fred to eat shrimp, let alone Louise squid.

The semantic rules of English do not allow the interpreterto determinethe nature of the scale from the form of a let alone sentence-the backgroundfor the cases just illustratedcould easily involve the stinginess of the diners and the cost of the food-but they requirethat some scalar arrayof the compared the variablepairs be automaticallyset up as an initial step in interpreting sentence, the details being correctly or incorrectlyfilled in by the interpreter. In many cases the required scale in question may be readily determined independentlyof the context in which a let alone sentence is used, but in other cases it might be quite specific to the context. Some of the range of variation is illustratedby the following examples. (96) He's not even 18, let alone 21.
let (97) He isn't heavy enough to play QUARTERBACK, alone TACKLE. let TEA. DISHES, alone MAKE (98) This water isn't hot enough to WASH TOSSit MANcouldn't LIFTthis boulder, let alone a CHILD (99) A GROWN
SIX FEET.

at (100) There's no chance she's even gonna LOOK me, let alone REMEMBER my NAME. (101) MEGwasn't born in 1941, let alone her DAUGHTER.

The possibility of absolute context specificity is illustratedby such cases as


let the following: if we hear someone say She didn't get to BERLIN alone WAR-

we SAW, infer that a journey from West to East is under discussion, while if
we let what we heard had been She didn't get to WARSAW alone BERLIN, would

have inferreda journey from East to West. To give anotherexample, we have a ready-madescale to interpreta sentence like 102: (102) She's not even in the $30,000a year category, let alone the $60,000 a year category. But in a context in which we are talkingabout eligibilityfor welfare benefits, it could make sense to say the following sentence of somebody: (103) She's not even in the $6000 a year category, let alone the $3000 a year category. The necessity of seeing the entailmentrelationshipas one involvinga scalar semantics can be shown by the out-of-contextanomalyof a sentence like 104:
NUMBER books, let alone SEVENTY-FIVE. of (104) Fred doesn't have an ODD

Surely not having an odd numberof books entails not having exactly seventyfive books; yet the sentence is bad, because the entailmentis not withina scalar

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semantics. But if the possibilitiescan be reinterpreted,so that a genuine scale is involved, the relationshipbetween 'being an odd number' and 'being the number75' can provide the kind of scalarentailmentwe require.The situation you are asked to imagineis that in a particularlottery every holder of an odd numberreceived a small prize, but the number75 was the big winner. Now, in a context in which somebody asked whether Fred got the big prize in the lottery, we can say the following sentence: (105) He didn't even have an ODDNUMBER, let alone SEVENTY-FIVE. Returningto our militaryrank examples, we mightpoint out that 'not being a commissioned officer' entails 'not being a second lieutenant'just as clearly as it entails 'not being a colonel'. If entailmentalone were sufficient warrant for the use of the let alone construction, a sentence like 106 should not be better than a sentence like 107. (106) He wasn't even a COMMISSIONEDOFFICER, let alone a COLONEL. (107)#He wasn't even a COMMISSIONED OFFICER, let alone a SECOND
LIEUTENANT.

But 107is odd, andpreciselybecause the rankof second lieutenantis the lowest commissioned rank. Ex. 107, in other words, is to be understoodas claiming that since we have reason to believe he never entered the scale, we have all the more reason to believe that he could not have reached some non-lowest point on the scale. But since second lieutenantIS the lowest point, the sentence is anomalous. The precedingexamples show that even where not-p unilaterallyentails notq, a sentence of the form Not p let alone q may still be unacceptable,that is, precisely when the entailmentis not seen as holdingwithin a scalar semantics. But what exactly do we mean by 'scalar semanitics'? A let alone sentence is interpretedin a SCALAR MODEL. A scalar model is a set of propositionswith a certainstructure;that structurecan be thoughtof as a generalizationto n dimensions of what is known in social psychology as a Guttmanscale. We introducethe idea of a scalarmodel with a two-dimensional is example. A more precise characterization given in the Appendix. linguisticsnamedApothSuppose we have fourprofessorsof Indo-European eosis, Brilliant,CompetentandDimm.Let us supposethatwhat we know about these four is that Apotheosis knows every languagethat Brilliantknows, Brilliant knows every language that Competent knows, and Competent knows every languagethat Dimmknows. The languageswe are concernedwith in this discourse are English, French, Greek, and Hittite. In the world of Indo-Europeanist scholarswe are imagining,anyone who knows Hittite knows Greek, anyone who knows Greek knows French, and anyone who knows French knows English. If P is a variableover our four professors and L is a variable over our four languages,the propositionalfunction P can read L togetherwith the set of orderedpairs of the form {(Professor,Language)}determinea lattice of sixteen elementary propositions: Apotheosis knows English, ..., Dimm knows Hittite. Denotingtruth 1 and falsity 0, the structureof this set of propositions can be diagrammed in Table 1. as

LET ALONE E A B
C

527

1 I

O
TABLE1.

The 1 in the upper left corner and the 0 in the lower right corner indicate respectively that if there is only one 1 cell in the lattice it must be the cell AE and if there is a unique cell with a 0 entry that cell must be DH. That is, if it is true for only one linguist/language that the linguistknows the language, pair that pair must match the most polyglot linguist, Apotheosis, with the most accessible language, English. Similarly, if it is true for only one linguist/language pair that the linguist does not know the language, then that pair must contain the most benightedlinguist, Dimm, and the least attainablelanguage, Hittite. Let us call the corner of the lattice which must be 0 if any entry is 0 the Zero Corner, here DH. Similarly, we will call the corner of the lattice that must contain 1 if any entry is 1 the One Corner,here AE. The arrowsextending to the right and downwardfrom the 1-cornerand to the left and upwardfrom the 0-cornerindicate, loosely, that in any particular state of affairsthat fits this scalarmodel, the lattice is filled only by propagation l's rightwards downof or wards (or both) from the 1-cornerand of 0's leftwards or upwards (or both) from the 0-corner. A little more precisely, if we know, for a given state of affairs, only that some entry in the lattice is 1, we automaticallyknow that in that state of affairs, every entry above or to the left of the first entry is 1; similarly,if we know that some entry is 0, we know that every entry below or to the rightof that entry is zero. The diagramsin Table 2 indicate a few of the states of affairsthat conformto the scalarmodel sketchedabove for the linguist/ languageexample.
EFGH AOOOO B O0 0O
C O0 0O

EFGH A1OOO B O0 0O
C O0 0O

EFGH A1100 B 1000


C O0 0O

EFGH Alili B liii


Cliii

DOOOO a.

DOOOO b.
TABLE 2.

DOOOO c.

Dliii d.

The generalpropertyof scalarmodelsthatwe have been discussingmotivates


the notion of RELATIVE STRENGTH two scalar propositions. The relative of

strength of the scalar propositionsin turn plays a key role in determiningthe semantic constraintson the acceptabilityof let alone sentences. Intuitively,in our example it would be maximallyinformativeto learn that Professor Dimm can read Hittite, since from this we could infer that every linguist can read

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to every language;equally, it would be maximallyinformative learnthatApotheosis can't read English, because from this we may conclude that none of our linguists can read any language.By the same token, learningthat Apotheosis can read English is minimallyinformative, since from this we may deduce nothingaboutthe value of any otherproposition;in parallelfashion, knowledge that Dimm can't read Hittite is minimallyinformative,again telling us nothing about any other linguist/language pair. Roughly, then, the fartheran ax-polarity propositionis fromthe a-corner, the more informativeit is. This is stated more precisely, where a is as usual a variableover polarityvalues, in 108: (108) For two propositionsp, q of ax polarity,p is more informative(equivthan stronger)thanq iffp is more distantfromthe ax-corner alently on at least one dimensionand no closer to the a-corner than q q on any dimension. Thus, of the following statements, all the (a) versions are more informative (stronger)than the (b) versions. (109) a. Brilliantcan read Hittite. b. Brilliantcan read French. (110) a. Brilliantcan't read French. b. Brilliantcan't read Hittite. (111) a. Competentcan read Hittite. b. Brilliantcan read French. (112) a. Brilliantcan't read French. b. Competentcan't read French. The basic semantic conditions on let alone sentences are these: (1) the full clause preceding let alone and the reduced clause (or fragment)following let alone are interpretedas two propositionsfrom the same scalar model; (2) the two propositions (representedby the full clause and the reduced clause) are of the same polarity; and (3) one of the two propositions, syntactically that expressed by the initial, full clause, is strongerthan the other. As we discuss elsewhere in this paper, the reduced (weaker) clause is interpretedas expressinga propositionthat is the same as that expressed by the full (stronger)clause, EXCEPT that the interpretation(s) the focused expresof sion(s) on the right is(/are) substitutedfor the correspondinginterpretation(s) on the left. Since the left propositionis, as we have seen, necessarily stronger than the rightproposition,the whole let alone sentence has a meaningthat can be representedas follows: strongerpropositiona fortiori weaker proposition. That is, whatever reason we have to believe, state, impere, suggest, etc., the strongerproposition,we have even strongerreason to so express the weaker proposition.
AS 2.3.3. BARELY THE F ELEMENT. Were one to attempt a purely semantic account of the distributionof let alone, one might note that the two points on the presupposedscale are such thatfailingto attainpoint A entails not reaching point B and minimallyattaining point A also entails not reachingpoint B. There are, however, expressions indicatingboth failureto attain and minimalattain-

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529

ment which do not provide proper contexts for let alone, namely almost and non-subject only. Notice that we do not get either 113 or 114. It is perfectly clear, however, what these sentences would tell us if they were sayable. (113) *He almost reached Denver let alone Chicago.s15 (114) *He only reached Denver let alone Chicago. Barely, of course, is a negative polarityitem, which accounts for the difference in grammaticality between 113-14 on the one handand 115 on the other: (115) He barely reached Denver let alone Chicago. That is, let alone is syntacticallya negative polarityitem, and so must appear in the scope of an appropriatelyaffective trigger. Whateverthis property of affectivity is, it is clear that almost and nonsubjectonly don't have it, as evidenced by 116-17. (116) *He almost earned any money. (117) *He only earned any money. While the syntactic property of negative polarity seems ultimatelyto have a
semantic basis-consider the fact that be surprised, doubt, too + ADJ,etc.,

are standardtriggers-the reductionof the syntactic propertyof polarity to a semantic property is not a task that we can carry out here. For present purposes, it suffices to assign the difference in grammaticality between 113-114 on the one hand and 115 on the other to the fact that barely is syntacticallya negative polaritytriggerwhile almost and nonsubjectonly are not, despite the fact that the latter two items seem also to have a limitingsemantics. Nonetheless, let alone sentences with barely as triggerpresent a problem for our semantic analysis of let alone, because only the negative part of the meaning of barely is interpretedas obtainingin the second (X B Y) conjunct. That is, 115 means not 118 but 119. (118) He barely reached Denver; a fortiorihe barely reached Chicago. (119) He barely reached Denver; a fortiorihe did NOT reach Chicago. There is independentevidence that barely may be analyzed semanticallyas 'almost not' but space does not permit reviewing it here. But even granting this analysis, an explanationwould still be requiredwhy only the not part of this complex operatordistributessemanticallyto the second, (X B Y), conjunct in let alone sentences. We are not at present able to offer such an explanation.
2.3.4. COMPLEX SCALES. The discussion in ?2.3.2 of the linguist/language

example (and its formalizationin the Appendix)provides the basis of the explanation of the semantics of a sentence like 120: (120) You'd never get a poor man to wash a car for $2 in bad times, let alone a rich man to wax a truck for $1 in prosperoustimes.
15 Ex. 113 could be well formed under a set of circumstances (discussed in ?2.2.4) which allow let alone in non-negative polarity contexts. For example, if a context proposition contained the information that Joe was driving to LA from New York, and amazingly reached Chicago in two days, the interlocutor might counter with 113, pointing out that Joe's progress was even more amazing than first suggested. In this section we are discussing only negative polarity readings of barely and almost.

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In this case the correspondingscalar model contains five dimensions, invoked by the lexical contrasts poor/rich,wash/wax, car/truck,$1/$2, and bad times/ prosperous times. In purely notional terms it is clear that these contrasts do not necessarily have a dimensionalcharacterindependentlyof each other. For example, it seems that the wash/wax and car/truckcontrasts only take on a dimensionalcharacterwithin a context that they create mutuallyand with the assistance of the other dimensionsand the F element You'dnever get... That is, the sentence as a whole, together with some generally shared background knowledge, permits the hearerto construct a scalar model of five dimensions that satisfies the essential formal propertyof such structures:for two propositions p,q, if p exceeds q on at least one dimensionand q does not exceed p on any dimension, then p unilaterallyentails q. (Thatis, in the set of possible states of affairsimagined,the set of states in which p is true is a propersubset of the set of states in which q is true.) In effect, the concept of scalar model which we are using here, and which is defined in the Appendix, is an n-dimensional generalizationof the one-dimensionalstructuresdescribed more or less formally under the heading 'semantic scale' or 'argumentativescale' by Horn 1972, Fauconnier1976,Ducrot 1973,Anscombre& Ducrot 1983,Gazdar 1979, and others. With respect to the substantiveinterpretation scales, there are two traof which may be very roughly characterizedas semantic and pragmatic, ditions, accordingto whetherthe scales are taken as part of the meaningsof sentences or of utterances.The semanticapproachwas taken by Horn 1972and followed by Gazdar 1979, althoughGazdar states that he finds Fauconnier'sempirical demonstrationof the pragmaticnatureof scales convincing (p. 55). Ourinterpretationof scales is generallyof the pragmaticvariety and thus similarto that of Fauconnier and Ducrot, with one additionalproviso. Not only do certain lexical items have as part of their inherent(non-context-dependent) semantic value that utterances of sentences which contain them will (that is, must) be contextually interpretedin a scalar model, but also there will commonly be conditions that relate the syntactic form of the sentence to the scalar model used in its interpretation. example, in a let alone sentence the proposition For of the scalarmodel expressedby the (X A Y) syntacticportionmustunilaterally entail the propositionexpressed by the (X B Y) portion. The lexical entry let alone thus implies an entire grammatical constructionin which syntactic, semantic, and pragmaticinformationare interrelated.Let alone is but one such item amongmany;otherexamplesincludeeven, almost,few, merely,and many more. Consideringexamples like 120 now from the point of view of the formal scalar property, we note a predictionthat is immediatelyverifiable. In a multiple-focus let alone sentence, if one permutes any pair of foci, the resulting sentence will normallybe semantically/pragmatically anomalous. Thus while 121 is good, 122a-c, each of which permutesone pair of foci, are bad. You couldn't get a poor man to wash your car for $2, let alone (121) a rich man to wax your truck for $1.

LET ALONE

531

(122) a. #You couldn't get a RICHman to wash your car for $2 let alone
a POORman to wax your truck for $1.

b. #You couldn't get a poor man to WAX your car for $2 let alone a rich man to WASH your truck for $1. c. #You couldn't get a poor man to wash your car for ONE dollar let alone a rich man to wax your truck for TWO dollars. We had to enter the qualification'normally'above because there is always the possibility that the scalar model requirementmay be satisfied by a different set of contextualassumptions.Thus, in a context in which it is more distasteful to wash a vehicle thanto wax one (say the water has to be carrieda long way), ex. 122b becomes readily acceptable; but of course in this context 121 itself becomes anomalous.Thatis, the basic scalarpropertyputs constraintson pairs in of sentences with respect to their interpretation the same scalar model. If we change our backgroundassumptions, then different scalar models fit the behavior of multiple-focus,multiple-propocontext. The semantic/pragmatic sition let alone sentences, such as 120-122, thus provides furtherevidence for both the scalar and the contextual nature of the kind of unilateralentailment their semantics requires. Interestinglyenough, some let alone sentences that have the syntactic property of multipleprosodic focus do not have the semantic propertyjust noted This occurs when the sentence does not (in context) permit an interpretation in which each pairof focused elements correspondsto two points on a semantic dimension of a scalar model. An example of such a multiply-focusedlet alone sentence is 123: (123) I didn't have time to FEED the CHILDREN, let alone PREPARE my
LECTURE.

in Here there seems to be no naturalinterpretation whichfeedingand preparing can be imaginedto representpoints on one dimensionand childrenand lectures as points on anotherdimensionin such a way that the propositionsexpressed in 124-127 are not only sensible but presupposed. (124) That I feed the childrenentails that I preparethe children. (125) That I feed my lecture entails that I preparemy lecture. (126) That I feed the childrenentails that I feed my lecture. (127) That I preparethe childrenentails that I preparemy lecture. In this case, feedingthe childrenis just considered,as a whole, to be something one will necessarilyhave time for if one has time to prepareone's lecture (and not conversely). In the case of 123we cannottest to see if the kindof anomalyfound in 122a-c children'(in this sense goes away, since talk of 'feedinglectures' or 'preparing
of prepare) is anomalous anyway. However, let us consider a sentence like

128: (128) I didn't get up in time to


BREAKFAST.

EAT

my

LUNCH,

let alone

COOK

my

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LANGUAGE, VOLUME 64, NUMBER 3 (1988)

in For 128 there is a perfectly sensible interpretation which cooking breakfast and eating lunch are also viewed as non-decomposedevents (like feeding the children and preparingone's lecture), but where it also is not incoherent to talk aboutcookinglunchandeatingbreakfast.In this case we see thatpermuting a pair of correspondingfoci does not necessarily lead either to anomaly or to a change of interpretivescalar model:
(129) I didn't get up in time to COOKmy LUNCH,let alone EAT my
BREAKFAST.

Ex. 129 is acceptable, unlike exx. 122a-c, because it is easy to imagine a dimensionof a scalarmodelcontaining,perhapsas a propersubset, the ordered
set (cooking breakfast, eating breakfast, cooking lunch, eating lunch) such that

one who gets up in time to do some memberof the list necessarily gets up in time to do any earliermember(and not conversely).
OF 2.4. THEPRAGMATICSLET ALONE. A description of the pragmatic conven-

tions associated with the let alone constructionmust mention the two speech acts which utteranceof a let alone sentence confronts-namely, the stronger A part F' (X A Y) and the weaker B part F' (X B Y) and their separateevaluations as informative(satisfying the Gricean Quantitymaxim) and relevant (satisfying the Relevance maxim), respectively. In addition, a pragmaticdescriptionmustmentionthe mannerin whichthe utteranceof a let alone sentence fits its conversationalcontext. Briefly, the essential pragmaticconditions on the felicitous utteranceof a let alone sentence are the following:
the (a) By way of the raising of what we may call the CONTEXT PROPOSITION,

immediatelypreceding context has created conditions under which a speech act representedby the weaker B clause is an appropriate relevantresponse. or (b) The weaker B clause of the let alone sentence specifically accepts or rejects the context proposition. (c) In either case, the speaker,while committinghimself emphaticallyto the B clause, indicates that limitinghimself to it would not be cooperative, since there is somethingeven more informativeto be said: the strongerA clause. Thus the let alone construction,with its two parts, can be seen as having the function of meeting simultaneousand conflicting demands of Relevance and Quantity.The weaker clause answers to the demandsof Relevance, either reassertingor denyingthe context sentence, accordingto the dictates of Quality. In either case, the strongerclause satisfies the demands of Quantity by saying the most informativething the speakerof the let alone sentence knows to be true. The effect of the whole, of course, is to emphasize the strengthof the speaker's commitmentto the B part. It is important notice a potentialconfusionregarding notionof strength. to the When we say that the A clause is stronger,we meanthat it is more informative, in the sense that it asymmetricallyentails the B clause; but the speaker's and hearer's attitudeto the B clause can be said to be strongerin the sense that it is utteredin greaterconfidence, being supportedby the A clause. The A clause (given the presupposedbackground)is more informative;the speech act performed throughthe B clause is more certain, more emphatic.

LET ALONE

533

It is not surprisingthat the word even fits comfortablyinto the A clause of a let alone sentence, since even is used fittinglywith expressionsof propositions which are strongerthan some contextually present or imagined proposition.
Thus sentences like He even made general and He didn't even make colonel

are usable in contexts in which, respectively, a lesser or greaterachievement may be presumed. The word even appears to have the function of indicating that the sentence in which it occurs is somehow strongerthananothersentence with which it can be compared.(See Karttunen& Peters 1979and the literature cited therein. The Appendix to the present paper gives a formal definitionof informativenessin terms of the wider concept 'scalar model'.) As we have noticed, the expression let alone belongs to a family of phrasal conjunctionswith somewhat similarfunctions, these includingif not, in fact,
much less, not to mention, never mind, and others. While constructions built

around these conjunctionsdiffer from each other in a numberof ways, what is common to them all is the presuppositionthat the two propositionswhich they confront identify distinct points on a scale. If we see the two points F' (X A Y) and F' (X B Y) as points on a scale of certainty, the intent of the constructioncan be describedas claimingthat since some quantityhas reached the point represented by F' (X A Y), then it has, ipso facto and a fortiori, reached the point representedby F' (X B Y). Expressed informally,we find that let alone sentences can be paraphrased,this time with the clauses in the order B-A, as in these three examples: I wouldn't pay five dollars for it, let alone ten dollars. ('You want to know whetherI'd pay ten dollarsfor it? Well, I'll have you know that I wouldn't even pay five dollarsfor it'); I don't let my children drink beer, let alone whiskey. ('You ask if I permit my children to drinkwhiskey? Well, I don't even permitmy childrento drinkbeer'); He could
persuade people that he's a duke, let alone a baron. ('Could he persuade them

that he's a baron?Why, he could persuadethem that he's a duke'). There are of course conjunctive constructionswhich present the conflictingelements in the more 'natural'order. That is, while let alone, togetherwith much less and not to mention, presents the strongerstatementfirst, such conjunctionsas in fact and if not present the strongerpoint second. (130) He didn't make general;in fact, he didn't even make colonel. (131) He did make colonel; in fact, he even made general. (132) I believe he made colonel, if not general. constructionshavingpragmatic As with many lexical items and grammatical scale underlyingthe construction's presuppositions,here too the presupposed felicitous use does not need to be part of the speaker's world, but can be attributedto the source of reported speech or thought. Thus, we might be representingGeneral Shotwell's feelings more faithfullythan our own in 133: (133) GeneralShotwell said that in the Grenadaaffairnot enough Cubans were wiped out to make it worthwhileto open a bottle of champagne, let alone put on a proper banquet for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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3. We hope to have demonstratedin the precedingpages that, in the construction of a grammar,more is needed than a system of generalgrammatical rules and a lexicon of fixed words and phrases. Those linguisticprocesses that are thought of as irregularcannot be accounted for by constructinglists of exceptions: the realm of idiomaticityin a languageincludes a great deal that is productive, highly structured,and worthy of serious grammaticalinvestigation. It has come to seem clear to us that certain views of the layering of grammatical operationsare wrong.We have in mindthat view of the interaction of syntax and semanticsby which the semanticcompositionof a syntactically complex phraseor sentenceis always accomplishedby the iterationof atomistic local operations,and thatview of pragmatics which semanticallyinterpreted by objects are invariablyfirst situated in contexts and then given their contextualized construals. It has seemed to us that a large part of a languageuser's competence is to be described as a repertory of clusters of informationincluding, simultaneously, morphosyntacticpatterns, semantic interpretation principlesto which these are dedicated,and, in many cases, specific pragmatic functions in whose service they exist. The notion of literal meaning should of perhaps be anchoredin what is common to the understanding expressions whose meaning is under consideration;and that might necessarily bring in informationthat goes beyond considerationsof truthconditions. Further,cerings that determine(in part)truthconditionson the utterancesof sentences in which they occur, but not on the sentences themselves. A language can associate semantic informationwith structures larger than elementary lexical items and can associate semanticinterpretation principleswith syntactic conthan those definableby means of single figurationslarger and more complex phrase structurerules. It appearsto us that the machineryneeded for describingthe so-calledminor or peripheralconstructionsof the sort which has occupied us here will have to be powerfulenough to be generalizedto more familiarstructures,in particular those representedby individualphrase structurerules. A phrase structure rule characterizes a structurewhose external category is identified with the notation) category indicatedon the left-handside of an arrow(in the traditional and whose constituentcategories are those indicatedon the right-handside of the arrow; the semantic interpretation such a constructionis the semantic of rule associated with that phrase structurerule. (In general, such constructions do not have associated pragmaticrules.) It can be hoped that the structurebuilding principles of the so-called core and the machineryfor building the phraseologicalunits of the kind discussed in this paper may be of a uniform type, the formerbeing a degenerateinstance of the latter.
MODELS APPENDIX: SCALAR In this Appendixwe presentthe ideas on which our semanticanalysisof let alone sentences is basedin a morepreciseway thanin the precedingtext. The expositionwill be illustrated throughout with the example about linguistsand languagesgiven in the text. For the reader'sconvenience, Tables 1 and 2 are reproduced below. It shouldbe bornein mindthatwhile the examplesdeal with

tain lexical items and constructions, such as let alone, may have literal mean-

LET ALONE E A B
C

535

F
>

D
TABLE3.

4-0

EFGH A OOOO 0 0 B 0 0 0 0
C OO 0 O

A B
C

EFGH 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
0 OO O

A B
C

EFGH 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0
0 OO O

A B
C

EFGH 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
1 1 1 1

D OOOO 0 0 a.

0 0 0 0 b.
4. TABLE

0 0 0 0 c.

1 1 1 1 d.

two semanticdimensions(linguistsandlanguages),each of whichis finite, in the generalcase there may be any finite numberof semanticdimensions,and a dimensionneed not be restrictedto a finite numberof values.
In MODEL. order to develop the idea Every let alone sentence is interpreted in terms of a SCALAR

of a scalar model, some preliminary assumptionsand definitionsare necessary. Assume a finite set D = {D1, ..., D"} (n > 1) whose members,D', are denumerablesets, and assume a simple as The orderon the elementsof each set.'16 members of D willbe interpreted semanticdimensions. D' In our examplethere are two semanticdimensions:linguistsand languages.The simpleorderson the members of each dimensionD' will be interpretedas specifyingthat each dimensionis an ordinaldimension.Thus the linguistsApotheosis, Brilliant,Competentand Dimm constitute, in that order, a dimensionof, let us say, erudition,and the languagesEnglish, French, Greek, and Hittite, in that order, constitutea dimensionof accessibility,or somethingof the sort. We will be concerned with the set of all n-tuples made up of selecting one value from each dimension,that is, with the Cartesianproductof the semanticdimensions.Since in our example there arejust two dimensions,this comes down to the set of orderedpairs{(Apotheosis,English), (Apotheosis, French), ..., (Dimm,Hittite)}.In the generalcase, we call the set of all n-tuplesthat
SPACE.In the contain as their ith component some member of the ith dimension an ARGUMENT

example, we see that the set {(Apotheosis,English), (Apotheosis, French), ..., (Dimm, Hittite)} function (Some linguist) can furnishesthe full arrayof possible argumentsfor the propositional read (some language); this illustratesour reason for selecting the appellation'argumentspace'. an sets Thus, a finiteset D of simplyordereddenumerable D' determines argument space as follows:
(Al) Dx = D1 x..xDn

16 Intuitivelya scalarmodel must containat least two dimensions.We have no conceptualway to distinguish,say, two differentdegreesof heightunless thereare two (possible)people who could bearthese distinctdegrees(see Cresswell1976).If we were to allowone-dimensional scalarmodels, we would furthermore have no explanationof why ex. 104 is bad while 105 is good. In this case unilateralentailmentwould ensurefor 104a structurethat conformsto everythingwe have to say about scalar models in this appendixEXCEPT stipulationthat the model have at least two dithe mensions. On the formalside, the explanationof why 105 is good while 104 is bad is that in the 105 context we can imaginea two-dimensional structurein which individuallottery participants form one dimensionwhich is scaled by anotherdimensionconsisting of the size of prize they receive (andconversely).In the 104contextno such seconddimensionis apparent. areindebted We to Jim Greeno and Paul Kube for discussionon this point.

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That is, argumentspace DX,determined a set D of dimensionsD', is the set of all n-tuplesthat by can be formedby fillingthe firstpositionwith a memberof the first dimension,the second position with a memberof the second dimension,and so on. We will sometimeshave occasion to call the
POINTS. individual members of the argument space Dx ARGUMENT

function(to be As noted, Dx is called an argument space because togetherwith a propositional defined)this space will determinea set of propositions.That set of propositionswill in turn constitute our scalarmodel. Viewinga propositionas a functionfrom states of affairsto truthvalues, the characteristicpropertyof scalar models will be expressed as a constrainton the permitted relationsbetween states of affairsand truthvalues, that is, as a constrainton the membership of the set of propositionsconstitutingthe scalarmodel. One furtherpreliminary necessarybefore we define scalarmodel. We need to generalizethe is intuitionexpressedin the text with regardto Table 1 (hereTable3), which portraysa scalarmodel with exactly two dimensions.In connectionwith that diagram,we had the concepts 'nearerthe 1-corner'and 'nearerthe 0-corner'.In the generalcase, a scalarmodelcomprisesany finitenumber of dimensions,and furthermore, dimensionsneed have a finite numberof values. Hence there the may not be any 'corners'for anythingto be nearer. The idea expressed in the text in terms of 'closeness to the corners' in a two-dimensional argumentspace (with finite-valueddimensions) may be expressed in the generalcase as follows: (A2) For distinct argumentpoints di, dj in an argumentspace DX,di is LOWERthan dj iff no coordinateof di has a highervalue thanthe corresponding coordinateof dj and at least one coordinateof di has a lower value than the corresponding coordinateof dj. The intuitiveidea of the kindof partialmetricwe wantis easily conveyed with an examplefrom elementaryeconomics. Suppose we have two distinct bundles, each composed, say, of varying amountsof these fourcommodities:shoes, rice, steel, chickensoup. Supposefurtherthatwe have no commonmetric, such as money, for these fourkindsof commodities.We can still say that one bundleis worthmore thanthe otherif the first containsas muchof every commodityas the other and in additioncontains more of at least one commoditythan the other. A scalarmodelmay now be definedas the set of all propositionsthat can be formedby applying to each argument functionwhichis subjectto a condition pointof an argument spacea propositional that involves the notion of the relativedistancefrom the originof two argument points. We first give the abstractdefinitionand then discuss and exemplifyits parts. (Recallthat we take a proposition to be a functionfrom states of affairsto truthvalues. When we say that one proposition entails anotherwe will meanthat the set of states of affairsin which the first is true is a subset of the set of states of affairsin which the second is true.) Assume a set S of states of affairs,the set T of truthvalues, an argument space DX, anda function P from Dx to the set of functionsfrom S to T. A scalarmodel is defined in terms of these four objects and a constrainton the functionP, which expresses the notion of scalarity. is (A3) (S,T,DX,P) a SCALAR MODEL iff, for distinctdi, dj in DX, P(dj)entails P(di)just in case di is lower than dj. The followingis an immediateconsequenceof definitionA3. (A4) - P(di)entails - P(dj)just in case di is lower than dj. In our example,P is the propositional function...can read..., whichyields for each argument point, in can e.g., (Brilliant, English)a proposition; this case Brilliant readEnglish.Each such proposition is of course itself a functionfrom the set S of states of affairsto the set T of truthvalues. In our example, the propositionBrilliantcan read Englishis a propositionthat assigns to the states of affairs labeled (a) and (b) in Table 4 the value False and to states of affairs(c) and (d) the value True. (Of course the four states of affairspicturedin Table 4 are not sufficientto distinguishall the propositionsin our sample scalar model; but there are many relevant states of affairs not pictured.) DefinitionA3 and its consequence A4 express generallyour restrictedand informalremarks outwardand downwardfrom the regardingthe intent of Table 4. The idea of ones propagating origin to form a solid block and zeros forminga solid block aroundthe zero corneris expressed to equivalentlyin A3 and A4, except that now, of course, we have nothing corresponding the corners because the model is no longerfinite.

LET ALONE

537

the Illustrating notion scalar modeljust defined with our runningexample, consider the propositions Brilliant can read English and Brilliant can read Greek. Looking at the states of affairs

picturedin Table4, we note that the latterassignsthe value Trueonly in state of affairs(d), while the former, as previouslynoted, assigns the value True in states of affairs(c) and (d). Since the argumentpoint (B, E) is lower than the argumentpoint (B, G) (i.e., the former has the same coordinatesas the latteron the linguistdimensionand a lower coordinateon the languagedimension), the propositionbuilt on the latter, Brilliantcan read Greek, should entail the proposition built on the former,Brilliantcan read English. The fact that the set of states of affairsin which the latter is true, {d}, is a subset of the set of states of affairsin which the formeris true, {c,d}, selected states of affairsin Table 4) that the required illustrates(with respect to the arbitrarily entailmentholds. of The informaland partialcharacterization informativeness (strength) proposedin 108can now be given a more satisfactory,and simpler,form. than a proposition q relative to a scalar (STRONGER) (A5) A proposition p is more INFORMATIVE model SM iff p entails q in SM and q does not entailp in SM. is Note that the definitionof informativeness relativizedto a scalar model and furtherthat the of empiricalinterpretation scalarmodels requiresthe situationof a sentence in a context of discourse. That is, accordingto our approach,the empiricalphenomenawhich give rise to the theoreticalnotion 'scalarity'cannotbe modeledin termsof the truthconditionalsemanticsof sentences takenas semantictypes. This conclusionagreeswith thatof Fauconnier1975a,b,1976,andDucrot who reformulates Horn's(1972:112) narrowlysemanticcharacterization 1973.Gazdar(1979:55ff.), of scalarity, acknowledgesthe correctness of Fauconnier'sobservationand for this and other reasonsis forced,alongwithHorn,to consider'semanticscales' as somehow'givento us' (1979:56). Further,Gazdarmust content himself with offeringonly a necessary conditionon such objects rather than a definition. This less than satisfactoryformulation,which Gazdarforthrightlyacknowledgesas such, appearsto us to have been necessitatedby his strictadherenceto the Gricean program,which insists that truthconditionsbe fixed at the level of semantictypes, in particular But at the level of sentences and not utterances.17 as we have shown repeatedlyin the text, let alone sentencesacquiretheirtruthconditionsonly in context. In the view advancedhere, pragmatic force is frequentlypartof literalmeaning. REFERENCES
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2337 Dwinelle Hall University of California Berkeley, CA 94720

[Received28 May 1987;


revision received 29 February 1988; accepted 20 March 1988.]