Ekaterina Vostrikova: Exceptive Constructions

In this class, we will delve into the semantics of exceptive constructions, as exemplified in (1). One of their intriguing characteristics is their incompatibility with existentials, as demonstrated in (2).

(1) Every girl came except/but Ann.

      (The inference: Ann did not come)
(2) *Some girl came except/but Ann.

Exceptive constructions offer an interesting case where ungrammaticality is tied to the meaning of an expression rather than its syntax. We will explore the semantic mechanisms underlying the ungrammaticality of (2), which are also pertinent in driving scalar implicature, NPI licensing, etc.

However, not all exceptive constructions result in ungrammaticality with existentials, some of them get the additive meaning in such cases, as demonstrated in (4). We will analyze the similarities and differences between these two types of constructions and how this distinction is semantically derived.

(3) Every girl came besides Ann.

      (The inference: Ann did not come)

(4) Some girl came besides Ann.

      (The inference: Ann came)

Furthermore, we will explore syntactic variation in this domain (illustrated in (5) and (6)) and its implications for our semantic theories.

(5) I got no presents, except from my mom.
(6) *I got no presents, but from my mom.

Additionally, we will delve into cross-linguistic variations in this area and address some unresolved puzzles.