Some Notes on Atomicity and Distributivity in Japanese

Kenji Yokota


We re-examine the semantic relation between atomicity and distributivity, which are considered relevant to the floating numeral quantifier construction (FNQ) in Japanese. It is shown that FNQ interpretation, distributive or non-distributive, may be to a large extent determined by pragmatic factors (including intonation) and real world knowledge shared by the speaker and hearer, rather than syntactic factors alone. This paper attempts the following three things: (i) it claims that there is a particular FNQ construction in Japanese, which is “NP-related” (unlike the normal FNQ construction which gives rise to a distributive reading, which is “VP-related”). (ii) It claims that this particular construction gives rise to a special focus reading. (iii) It offers a semantic/pragmatic account of this non-distributive reading. 

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