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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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Where We Stand

Where We Stand

Chapter:
(p.428) 8 Where We Stand
Source:
Logic in Grammar
Author(s):

Gennaro Chierchia

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199697977.003.0009

This chapter synthesizes and discusses the main results of the book, namely (i) the treatment of ordinary scalar terms and their implicatures, (ii) pure NPIs (emphatic, weak, strong) (iii) NPIs that double up as FCIs (existential and universal), and (iv) intervention effects of various sorts. The data seem to bear out the claim that Polarity Sensitive Items (PSIs) are indefinites whose alternatives have become obligatorily active (a case of ‘grammaticization’). The behavior of PSIs follows under these assumptions from a general view of how alternatives are factored into meaning via a process of exhaustification. A tightly regulated system of parameters paves the way to understanding both historical and typological variation in the Polarity System. Minimality effects constitute a key piece of evidence in favor of this view and a unique window on how the Polarity System works. The crucial role that logical triviality plays in this account is also discussed along with consequences of such role on the relation between syntax and logic, on the generative paradigm, and on our understanding of human cognition.

Keywords:   logical syntax, grammaticization, historical and typological variation in the Polarity Sytem, tautologies and grammatical triviality, generative devices vs. inferential systems

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