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Weak Island Semantics$
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Márta Abrusán

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199639380

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199639380.001.0001

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Negative Islands*

Negative Islands*

(p.87) 3 Negative Islands*
Weak Island Semantics

Márta Abrusán

Oxford University Press

This chapter proposes an explanation for the oddness of negative islands, such as *How didn’t John behave at the party? and *How many children doesn’t John have?. These examples contrast with Who didn’t John invite to the party?, which shows that a wh-word ranging over individuals can escape negation without problems. The chapter proposes that the reason for the unacceptability of the ungrammatical questions above is that they cannot have a maximally informative true answer (MIP). Fox and Hackl (2007) have argued this presupposition explains the unacceptability of negative degree islands if we assume that scales of degrees are dense (UDM). This chapter argues that the unacceptability of negative degree islands is not rooted in the UDM, but follows from degree questions ranging over intervals (cf. also Abrusán and Spector 2011). I further show that in the case of negative manner questions, the MIP can also never be met.

Keywords:   weak islands, negative islands, semantics of degrees, semantics of manners, intervention effects, locality principles

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