In Support of the Implicature Approach to Deriving Ignorance Inferences


  • W.A.T. Weerasooriya Department of English and Linguistics, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Sri Jayewardenepura


Lack of Relevant Identification approach (LRIA: cf. Aloni 2001; Aloni & Port 2012; Aloni & Port 2015) and Ignorance Implicature approach (IIA. cf. Alonso-Ovalle & Menendez-Benito 2010; Alonso-Ovalle & Menendez-Benito 2013; Alonso-Ovalle & Menendez-Benito 2017) are two main methods to account for the ignorance component associated with indefinites across languages. Analyzing Japanese wh-ka indefinites, Sudo (2010) proposes to derive the ignorance component of the wh-ka indefinites exclusively under the LRIA. However, Alonso-Ovalle & Shimoyama (2014) present an argument against Sudo’s (2010) LRIA based account of derivation of the ignorance component of the Japanese wh-ka epistemic indefinites. Alonso-Ovalle & Shimoyama argue that it is premature to deviate from the IIA. Alonso-Ovalle & Shimoyama, based on new observations, claim that wh-ka indefinites are faced with issues when analysed exclusively under LRIA. In this paper, relevant data retrieved from the existing literature and new data introduced by the author based on native speaker judgements are analysed in light of the LRIA and IIA, thus following the deductive approach to draw the conclusions.  Based on the observations of wh-indefinites in Sinhala exhibiting similar as well as varied behaviours in light of those of Japanese, this paper shows evidence in support of Alonso-Ovalle & Shimoyama (2014). It claims that deviating from the IIA so abruptly to derive the ignorance implicatures of epistemic indefinites exclusively under the LRIA is quite ineffectual. The paper also presents novel and interesting data from Sinhala that pose challenges even for the two existing approaches. It highlights the need for a new approach/method to account for the derivation of ignorance inferences associated with epistemic indefinites cross-linguistically.


KEYWORDS:    Ignorance, Implicatures, Indefinites, Sinhala, Japanese