PhD student Mathieu Paillé gave a talk entitled “Inclusion of parts, or exclusion of predicates: Comparing two exhaustivity accounts of homogeneity” at the Workshop on Part-Whole Structures in Natural Language, at Masaryk University in Brno (held online). The handout is here.
Abstract: Discussion of homogeneity effects usually focuses on examples involving pluralities, but the effect is often taken to hold within atoms as well (e.g., Löbner 2000, Spector 2013, Križ 2015). In this talk, I compare two accounts of homogeneity, namely the account by Bar-Lev (2018, 2021) made for plural homogeneity, and the account proposed in Paillé (2020, 2021) for subatomic homogeneity. These accounts are similar in a number of ways: both understand the homogeneity paradigm in terms of weak lexical meaning paired with strengthening in positive sentences, both claim that this strengthening is specifically the result of an Exh(aust) operator, and both must posit constraints on the syntactic distribution of this Exh operator. But the accounts differ in the nature of the alternatives and in the specific property of Exh that leads to strengthening. Bar-Lev’s account posits the inclusion of proper parts, while Paillé’s account uses the exclusion of conceptually related predicates. I show that neither theory can be carried over to the homogeneity effects they were not intended to capture: Bar-Lev’s account faces difficulties with subatomic homogeneity, specifically due to conjoined predicates (e.g., The flag is white and green), while Paillé’s account is not translatable to plural homogeneity at all. As such, I suggest that plural and subatomic homogeneity effects are underlyingly united in only some of their properties (being the result of local exhaustification in positive sentences) while differing in the nature of the alternatives and whether these are included or excluded.