Granularity and scalar implicature in numerical expressions

Chris Cummins*, Uli Sauerland, Stephanie Solt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It has been generally assumed that certain categories of numerical expressions, such as 'more than n', 'at least n', and 'fewer than n', systematically fail to give rise to scalar implicatures in unembedded declarative contexts. Various proposals have been developed to explain this perceived absence. In this paper, we consider the relevance of scale granularity to scalar implicature, and make two novel predictions: first, that scalar implicatures are in fact available from these numerical expressions at the appropriate granularity level, and second, that these implicatures are attenuated if the numeral has been previously mentioned or is otherwise salient in the context. We present novel experimental data in support of both of these predictions, and discuss the implications of this for recent accounts of numerical quantifier usage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-169
Number of pages35
JournalLinguistics and Philosophy
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Numerals
  • Implicature
  • Granularity
  • Salience
  • Constraints
  • Quantifiers
  • Relevance
  • Pragmatics


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