Selected Publications

On logicality and natural logic. «Natural Language Semantics», to appear, with L. San Mauro.

Abstract. In this paper we focus on the logicality of language, i.e. the idea that the language system contains a deductive device to exclude analytic constructions. Puzzling evidence for the logicality of language comes from acceptable contradictions and tautologies. The standard response in the literature involves assuming that the language system only accesses so-called L-analyticities, i.e. analyticities that are due to skeletons as opposed to standard logical forms. Concerns have been raised recently on whether the assumption of an intrinsically linguistic logic is obligatory to account for the puzzling evidence. In this paper we submit evidence that the very same logical principle that determines the analytic status of certain ungrammatical structures, also determines the analytic status of their suitably derived grammatical variants. We understand our evidence as providing support to alternative accounts of logicality, which reject the stipulation of a natural logic and assumes instead the meaning modulation of nonlogical terms.

Divertissement quasigramsciano su logica e linguaggio. «Rivista Italiana di Filosofia del Linguaggio», to appear.

Abstract: Questa nota è incentrata sul rapporto tra logica e linguaggio, che analizza a partire dal dato di accettabilità sintattica delle proposizioni analitiche. Sullo sfondo di una critica gramsciana a Croce, in cui si sottolinea l’espressività delle proposizioni contraddittorie, quando intese in una dimensione linguistica non formale, questa nota discute una diversa opposizione all’approccio crociano, che non richiede di abbandonare il livello di considerazione formale del linguaggio. Le proposizioni contraddittorie (e analitiche in generale) sono ora recuperate all’espressività in funzione di una precisazione della classe delle analiticità che producono effetti di inaccettabilità sintattica. Elementi di una concezione genericamente pragmatica, ma formale, sono ravvisabili anche in questa diversa opposizione.

Analyticity and modulation. Broadening the rescale perspective on language logicality. «International Review of Pragmatics», 13, 1, pp. 1-13, 2021, with U. Sauerland. DOI: 10.1163/18773109-01301001.

Abstract: Acceptable analyticities, i.e. contradictions or tautologies, constitute problematic evidence for the idea that language includes a deductive system. In recent discussion, two accounts have been presented in the literature to explain the available evidence. According to one of the accounts, grammatical analyticities are accessible to the system but a pragmatic strengthening repair mechanism can apply and prevent the structures from being actually interpreted as contradictions or tautologies. The proposed data, however, leaves it open whether other versions of the meaning modulation operation are required. Novel evidence we present argues that a loosening version of the repair mechanism must be available. Our observation concerns acceptable lexical contradictions that cannot be rescued if only a strengthening version of the pragmatic strategy is available.

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Una nota sulla pragmatica musicale. «De Musica», 24, 1, pp. 173-178, 2020. DOI: 10.13130/2465-0137/14688.

Abstract: In questa nota si fornisce un esempio preliminare di analisi pragmatica dellestrutture musicali. Nell’analisi, la stipulazione di una pragmatica musicale segue strettamente recenti proposte presentate in ambito semantico, in cui si illustrano le potenziali virtù rappresentazionali delle strutture musicali. In particolare, in questa nota si suggerisce la presenza di strategie di ricostruzione dei significati musicali le quali intervengono a prevenire la realizzazione di contenuti semantici contraddittori. L’evidenza utilizzata è ricavata da alcune misure del madrigale primo del II libro dei madrigali di Monteverdi (1590), e dal testo di Torquato Tasso che le accompagna; sviluppi dell’analisi qui proposta dovranno fondarsi su evidenze indipendenti e auspicabilmente naturali.

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A note on contextual blindness as extended to ‘only’. «International Review of Pragmatics», 11, 2, pp. 301-308, 2019. DOI: 10.1163/18773109-01102105.

Abstract: This paper discusses the Contextual Blindness principle as extended to the exclusive operator only. It focuses on the interaction between only and alternatives derived from a special category of contextual orders, generally referred to as “rank orders”. It submits problematic evidence for the principle and argues that access to contextual information is required in the relevant cases. Its conclusion is that, as things stand, these cases constitute an obstacle to the semantic generalization of scalar reasoning involving only.

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Contextual Blindness in implicature computation. «Natural Language Semantics», 25, 2, pp. 109-124, 2017. DOI: 10.1007/s11050-016-9131-6

Abstract: In this paper, I defend a grammatical account of scalar implicatures. In particular, I submit new evidence in favor of the contextual blindness principle, assumed in recent versions of the grammatical account. I argue that mismatching scalar implicatures can be generated even when the restrictor of the universal quantifier in a universal alternative is contextually known to be empty. The crucial evidence consists of a hitherto unnoticed oddness asymmetry between formally analogous existential sentences with reference failure NPs. I conclude that the generation of mismatching scalar implicatures does not require contextual access.

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On conceivability and existence in linguistic interpretation. «Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence», 10257, pp. 203-212, 2017. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-57837-8_16.

Abstract: This paper discusses the role of existence presuppositions and conceivability in linguistic interpretation. In particular, it is discussed evidence that the non-emptiness requirement on universallyquantified propositions might be satisfied through access to a background of knowledge concerning what might be the case in the actual world, as opposed to a background of knowledge concerning what is actually the case. The evidence discussed comes from empirical observations on the behavior of the scalar implicature mechanism. The crucial piece evidence amounts to the fact that the entailment pattern with existentiallyquantified propositions, which is crucial to generate the desired inference, is established when quantifiers range over non-existing but conceivable entities, but it cannot be established when quantifiers range over nonexiting and inconceivable entities.

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Oddness and conjunction. In: Linguistic and psycholinguistic approaches on implicatures and presuppositions (Palgrave studies in pragmatics, language and cognition). London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017, pp. 55-71, with J. Romoli. DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-50696-8_3.

Abstract: In this chapter, we discuss the oddness effects arising from certain kinds of scalar sentences and review two main accounts to the oddness of these sentences: an account that explains oddness as an effect of a contextually contradictory scalar implicature and an alternative account that explains oddness based on the pragmatic usability of alternatives. We discuss the oddness behavior of conjunctive variants of the original cases which have been argued to be problematic for the account based on the mismatching scalar implicature. We argue that such variants are similarly problematic for the alternative account. We contribute a novel observation that the oddness of the conjunctive variants is not as stable as that of the original cases. Finally, we sketch a possible account of the oddness of these cases based on a relevance implication procedure from the entire conjunctive sentence to single conjuncts.

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Pragmatics, Semantics, and the Case of Scalar Implicatures (Palgrave Studies in Pragmatics, Language and Cognition). London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. DOI: 10.1057/9781137333285.

Abstract: This book is an advanced debate on the nature of scalar implicatures, one of the most popular topics in philosophical linguistics in the last 20 years. Leading theorists in the field offer an up-to-date presentation of the subject in a way that helps readers to orient themselves in the vast literature on the topic.

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Some notes on only, maximization and a certain historical advance. «Studies in Linguistics», MITWPL, 5, pp. 145-151, 2013. ISSN: 2281-3128.

Abstract: The present text is intended as a probe into the meaning of the focus-sensitive operator ‘only’. Special attention is devoted to the interaction between the operator and partition orders, also known as exact scales. A discussion about the problematic predictions apparently generated by standard treatments is offered. A repair mechanism of scales is presented and treated as part of a general dynamics of linguistic maximization.

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L’inferenza scalare tra semantica e pragmatica. Università degli Studi di Siena, Scuola Dottorale in Scienze Cognitive, XXIV ciclo, 2013. (Partially published as: Semantica e pragmatica linguistica. Tracce di normalità nelle implicature scalari (Biblioteca di testi e studi). Roma: Carocci, 2014. ISBN: 978-8-843-07051-0.)

Abstract: Questo libro si concentra sul meccanismo interpretativo attraverso cui nelle nostre conversazioni tendiamo ad assegnare agli enunciati un significato quanto più informativo possibile. Una classica instanziazione di questo meccanismo è l’arricchimento del contenuto verocondizionale di “alcuni” in “alcuni ma non tutti”: si tratta dell’inferenza nota come implicatura scalare. L’autore fornisce una prima puntuale presentazione dei recenti argomenti proposti a difesa di una concezione linguistica dell’implicatura scalare, in cui essa è vista come parte del nostro corredo di conoscenza del linguaggio: un portato, si direbbe, della nostra forma di esistenza, non un meccanismo di adattamento strumentale pragmatico. Il libro, inoltre, affronta la questione della compatibilità della concezione linguistica con la ben nota proprietà dell’annullabilità contestuale dell’implicatura scalare, fornendo un punto di vista controverso ed innovativo che promette di suscitare interesse tanto negli studiosi del linguaggio quanto nei filosofi della scienza e della mente.

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