Some remarks on the semantic properties of 'más o menos'

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Adrià Pardo-Llibrer


Following several lexicological works (García-Page 1991; García-Medall 1993; González Rodríguez 2008) and different papers on theoretical pragmatics (Sadock 1977; Channell 1980; Sauerland & Stateva 2007; Greenberg and Ronen 2013), the Spanish adverb más o menos ‘more or less’ has been considered an approximative adverb according to certain semantico-pragmatic features that it shares with other adverbs, such as almost or barely. Previous accounts for these adverbs relate to its pragmatic (Lakoff 1973; Sadock 1977) or discursive properties (Llopis Cardona 2016). Nevertheless, the meaning of más o menos has not been described from a semantic point of view, in opposition to semantic analyses for almost and barely (Hitzeman 1992; Sevi 1998), as well as for the Spanish casi and apenas (Aranovich 1992; Horn 2009, 2011). In order to carry out a first semantic description of más o menos, my starting point is the Sevi’s (1998) account for the approximative adverbs almost and barely. The approximative más o menos is related to these two adverbs, since all three affect truth-conditions. However, an analysis of the involved implications reveals an inconsistency in the presuppositions triggered by más o menos which does not take place in almost or barely.

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