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Logic in GrammarPolarity, Free Choice, and Intervention$
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Gennaro Chierchia

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199697977

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697977.001.0001

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The Spontaneous Logicality of Language

The Spontaneous Logicality of Language

(p.11) 1 The Spontaneous Logicality of Language
Logic in Grammar

Gennaro Chierchia

Oxford University Press

Chapter 1 shows how scalar implicatures and Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) are sensitive to whether a context is upward or downward entailing. It reviews the alternative based semantics of focus developed by M. Rooth and motivates the claim that NPIs activate subdomain alternatives on the basis of their behavior in situation of contrastive focus. It argues that the distribution of NPIs follows largely from this assumption (building on work by N. Kadmon and F. Landman, and M. Krifka). The behavior of NPIs under focus provides preliminary support for the view that these items are constrained to activating subdomain alternatives. The proposal rests on the idea that NPI violations (i.e. ‘unlicensed’ NPIs) give raise to analytically false sentences. The Chapter discusses accordingly the relation between logical analyticity and (un)grammaticality, and develops the idea that certain logically trivial sentences come out as ungrammatical, articulating the notion of G(rammatical)-triviality. This proposal is set in the perspective of previous influential approaches to polarity in terms of syntactic, semantic and pragmatic licensing.

Keywords:   focus, subdomain alternatives, analyticity and grammaticality, licensing of NPIs, downward vs. upward monotonicity, affective items

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