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Guerrini (2022), `Like a N' constructions and genericity

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conference contribution
posted on 25.07.2022, 12:05 authored by Janek Guerrini

Proceedings of the ESSLLI 2022 Student Session

`Like a N' constructions and genericity

Janek Guerrini

In this work, I examine English V + 'like' constructions. I analyze 'is like xe' as 'shares relevant properties with xe', which coheres with main psychological accounts of similarity (Tversky, 1977). I also examine the readings of indefinites embedded by such constructions ('look like a lawyer'). I argue that in the most salient reading of such constructions the indefinite receives a generic interpretation. This explains why they are non-increasing: from the fact that John looks like a British judge it doesn't follow that he looks like a judge. This also predicts, non-trivially and correctly, quasi-conjunctive narrow readings of disjunction: under the most salient reading of 'John looks like a lawyer or judge', John looks like a lawyer and like a judge. This is explained by the fact that the disjunction can go into the restrictor of a generic quantifier.

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