An -(i)na Disjunction Phrase and a Limited Access to a Scalar Alternative

Jieun Kim 1 , *
Author Information & Copyright
1University of Ulsan
*Corresponding Author : Associate Professor, English Language and Literature, University of Ulsan 505, Building14, Daehakro 93, Namgu, Ulsan 44620, Korea, E-mail:

ⓒ 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: Jun 26, 2018 ; Revised: Nov 23, 2018 ; Accepted: Nov 23, 2018

Published Online: Dec 31, 2018


This paper investigates how conjunctive meaning is derived from a disjunctive phrase, marked by -(i)na, in Korean. Previous studies on English disjunction phrases (Allonso-Ovalle 2005; Simons 2005; Saurland 2004; Fox 2007; Klinedinst 2007) have found that the contexts with possibility modals or plural domains provide environments for conjunctive inferences to be evoked via scalar implicatures. What is interesting in Korean -(i)na phrases is that the contexts where conjunctive meaning is derived from -(i)na appear to be more prevalent than it would have been expected under the system based on English disjunction phrases. I propose that the basic mechanism amounts to that of Fox 2007; Crnic, Chelma, and Fox 2015, among many others. In Korean, however, a lexical scalar alternative of a disjunction phrase, the conjunction phrase, is missing. When a strengthening process applies recursively in the given condition, a conjunctive inference, instead of an exclusive disjunction reading, is derived from a disjunction phrase.

Keywords: a disjunction phrase; a conjunctive inference; grammatical scalar implicature; plurality; recursive strengthening



Alonso-Ovalle, Luis. (2005). Distributing the disjuncts over the modal space. In Leah Bateman and Cherlon Ussery, eds., Proceedings of the 35th North East Linguistics Society Conference. Amherst: GLSA, University of Massachusetts.


Chierchia, Gennaro. (2004). Scalar implicature, polarity phenomena, and the syntax/pragmatics interface. In A. Belletti, ed., Structures and Beyond. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Chierchia, Gennaro. (2006). Broaden your views: Implicatures of domain widening and the logicality of language. Linguistic Inquiry 37(4), 535-590.


Chierchia, Gennaro. (2013). Logic in Grammar. Oxford: Oxford Press.


Chierchia, Gennaro, Danny Fox and Benjamin Spector. (2011). The grammatical view of scalar implicatures and the relationship between semantics and pragmatics. In Paul Portner, Claudia Maienborn and Klaus von Heusinger, eds., Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.


Crnic, Luka, Emmanuel Chelma, and Danny Fox. (2015). Scalar implicatures of embedded disjunction. Natural Language Semantics 23(4), 271-305.


Fox, Danny. (2007). Free choice and the theory of scalar implicatures. In Uli Sauerland and Penka Stateva eds., Presupposition and Implicature in Compositional Semantics, 71-120. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


Fox, Danny and Roni Katzir. (2011). On the characterization of alternatives. Natural Language Semantics 19(1), 87-107.


Grice, H. Paul. (1975). Logic and conversation. In Peter Cole and J. L. Morgan, ed., Syntax and Semantics 3, 41-58. New York: Academic Press.


Horn, Laurence. (1972). On the Semantics and Pragmatics of Logical Operators in English. Ph.D. thesis, UCLA.


Klinedinst, Nathan. (2007). Plurality and Possibility. Ph.D. thesis, UCLA.


Kratzer, Angelika. and Junko Shimoyama. (2002). Indeterminate phrases: the view from Japanese. In Y. Otsu, ed., The Proceedings of the Third Tokyo Conference on Psycholinguistics, 1-25. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo.


Krifka, Manfred. (1990). Boolean and non-boolean 'and', papers from the Second Symposium of Logic and Language.


Meyer, Marie-Christine. (2015). Free choice and missing alternatives. Journal of Semantics 33(4), 703-754.


Ryu, Byung Ryul. (2013). hankwuke cosa 'ina'uy uymiwa ssuim. Ph.D. thesis, Seoul National University. (In Korean).


Sauerland, Uli. (2004). Scalar implicatures in complex sentences. Linguistics and Philosophy 27(3), 367-391.


Simons, Mandy. (2005). Dividing things up: the semantics of or and the modal/or interaction. Natural Language Semantics 13, 271-316.


Singh, Raj, Ken Wexler, Andrea Astle-Rahim, Deepthi Kamawar, and Danny Fox. (2016). Children interpret disjunction as conjunction: consequences for theories of implicature and child development. Natural Language Semantics 24(4), 305-352.


Yoon, Jaehak. (2000). Conjunctive -(i)na 'or'. Language and Information 4(2), 41-54.


Zimmerman, Ede T. (2000). Free choice disjunction and epistemic possibility. Natural Language Semantics 8, 255-290.