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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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Even Negative Polarity Items and Only Negative Polarity Items

Even Negative Polarity Items and Only Negative Polarity Items

(p.143) 3 Even Negative Polarity Items and Only Negative Polarity Items
Logic in Grammar

Gennaro Chierchia

Oxford University Press

Chapter 3 presents the main thesis of the book: Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) activate obligatorily the alternatives that ordinary indefinites activate optionally (i.e. subject to relevance). Two classes of NPIs are discussed: emphatic (minimizers, even-one/some NPIs) and non emphatic (ever, NP-any, Italian alcun). Emphatic NPIs activate linearly ordered scales and are exhaustified via a covert counterpart of even, thank to a principle of ‘Optimal Fit’ (an extension of ‘Maximize Presupposition’). Non emphatic NPIs are counterparts of plain indefinites that do not admit the value ‘-‘ (‘inactive’) for their scalar and domain alternatives. Their distribution is derived from these assumptions. It is proposed that the reason why NPIs have to be weakest element on a scale is because non weakest elements in DE contexts generate positive implicatures that make exhaustification contradictory (i.e. G-trivial). Apparent counterexamples to this claim - e.g. NPIs like much (non end of scale) or at all (strongest element of a scale) are analyzed in terms of independently observable scalar principles (scale truncation, and scale reversal respectively).

Keywords:   even and only, alternative sensitive operators, emphatic NPIs, minimizers, pragmatic scales, scale truncation, scale reversal, weakest scalar terms, optimal fit, maximize presupposition

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