Monotone decreasing indefinites are known to pose problems for theories of type shifting; for example, existential closure of a decreasing predicate incorrectly yields an "at least" reading, while at the same time excluding zero as a possible value. The present paper examines this issue with particular focus on few, one of a small number of morphologically simple monotone decreasing expressions in English. Evidence is presented for an analysis of few as decomposable into a negation operator and a positive cardinality predicate. It is shown that this approach not only yields correct results under type shifting, but also provides an account for two other seemingly unrelated sets of facts: the existence of split scope readings, and the relationship of the pair few/a few.
Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Donald Baumer, David Montero, and Michael Scanlon
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