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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Seth Cable

Second Advisor

Rajesh Bhatt

Third Advisor

Kyle Johnson

Fourth Advisor

Barbara Partee

Subject Categories

Semantics and Pragmatics | Syntax


This work focuses on the syntax and semantics of exceptive and exceptive-additive constructions across different languages. Exceptive-additive constructions are constructions that can be interpreted as ‘except for’ and ‘in addition to’ depending on the context they are used in. The meaning an exceptive-additive construction gets depends on the other functional elements in a sentence. Those constructions get the exceptive meaning when they are put together with universal quantifiers and they get the additive meaning with existentials, wh-words and focus associates. In each context only one of the meanings is available. This work is the first systematic study of the syntactic and semantic properties of such constructions across serval languages: English, Russian, Turkish, Hindi, Persian, Bulgarian. This works offers a formal theory that explains how exceptive-additive constructions can mean two different things and why are the two readings distributed the way they are. According to this proposal, the meaning of an exceptive-additive construction is contributed by two operators that can take scope with respect to each other. Their scope determines the resulting meaning. In every case both the additive and the exceptive meaning are generated. However, an attempt to generate the additive meaning with a universal quantifier or the exceptive meaning with a wh-question results in a meaning that is ill-formed and for that reason is not available. This work also adds novel observations supporting the claim that the syntactic structure the standard semantic theory of exceptives assumes is incorrect for some exceptive constructions. In many languages what follows the word except is a reduced clause and not a DP. This work proposes the first compositional semantic treatment of clausal exceptives. According to this proposal a clausal exceptive contributes quantification over possible situations and provides the restriction for this quantification. The proposed account captures the known inferences exceptives contribute and the restrictions on their use. This work also describes clausal exceptive-additive constructions in Persian and Bulgarian and extends the account of the exceptive-additive ambiguity to clausal cases. Key words: exceptive constructions, clausal exceptives, phrasal exceptives, exceptive-additive ambiguity