MLC Seminar

Speaker: Fausto Carcassi
Title: 'Most' vs 'more than half': A pragmatic explanation and an RSA model
Time: 16:00 - 17:30

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While ‘most’ and ‘more than half’ are generally assumed to be truth-conditionally equivalent, the former is usually interpreted as conveying greater proportions than the latter. Previous work has attempted to explain this difference in terms of pragmatic strengthening or variation in meanings. In this talk, we propose a novel explanation that keeps the truth-conditions equivalence. We support this explanation with a computational model of usage in the Rational Speech Act framework. We find that the difference in typical proportions associated with the two expressions can be explained with previously independently motivated semantic and pragmatic mechanisms.