Existentiality and Implicatures

Yoon-kyoung Joh 1 ,
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1Mokpo National University
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ⓒ Copyright 2018 Language Education Institute, Seoul National University. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received: Oct 23, 2017 ; Revised: Dec 19, 2017 ; Accepted: Dec 28, 2017

Published Online: Apr 30, 2018


This paper claims that an existential reading of bare nouns, used with the progressive form of a stage-level predicate, can be explained by the fact that the temporariness implicature of the progressive is incompatible with genericity. Furthermore, this paper argues that an existential reading of bare nouns employed in the there-be construction should be approached in parallel with the definiteness effect observed with respect to the construction. That is, the referentiality status of the there-be construction evokes a scalar implicature that negates scales stronger than referentiality. Thus, restricted generics are ruled out in the construction. These pragmatic accounts have an apparent advantage, since they can handle exceptions more adequately than any syntactic or semantic analyses.

Keywords: existential; generic; progressive; temporariness implicature; scalar implicature