Congratulations to Prof. Elizabeth Coppock on the publication of her article “Part-introducing ‘percent’ in English” in Glossa! Well-done!
Abstract: Two uses of English percent, called ‘conservative’ and ‘reversed’, have been extensively discussed in the literature. In ‘reversed’ uses, percent introduces a predicate that characterizes a part of a larger whole. This paper points out that there are other constructions in which it does so as well, and illustrates the full range of such ‘part-introducing’ uses, using corpus examples. I then consider how existing theories fare in capturing its distribution, and offer two suggestions for improving the empirical coverage with a uniform treatment of the part-introducing uses. First, I propose a type-shift that converts a non-gradable predicate to a gradable one that tracks mereological parthood. This makes any non-gradable predicate eligible for use with an analysis of percent designed for constructions like 75% full. Second, motivated by cumulative-like readings, I sketch an analysis in a dynamic semantics with plurals in which percent applies to a cross-assignment sum, evaluated after the rest of the constraints in the clause have been applied to the discourse referent in question.
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