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Abstract: Quantifying determiners most and more than half are standardly assumed to have the same truth-conditional meaning. Much work builds on this assumption in studying how the two quantifiers are mentally encoded and processed (Hackl, 2009; Pietroski et al., 2009; Szymanik and Zajenkowski, 2010; Lidz et al., 2011; Steinert-Threlkeld et al., 2015; Talmina et al., 2017). There is however empirical evidence that most is sometimes interpreted as 'significantly more than half' (Ariel, 2003, 2004; Solt, 2011, 2016; Ramotowska et al., 2020). Is this difference between most and more than half a consequence of pragmatic strengthening of most, or is the standard assumption that the two quantifiers are truth-conditionally equivalent wrong? We report two experiments which demonstrate that most preserves the 'significantly more than half' interpretation in downward-entailing environments, which speaks against the pragmatic strengthening option and in favor of there being a difference between the two quantifiers at the level of truth conditions.
Keywords: quantification; implicatures; experimental semantics; most; more than half.