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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates the phenomenon of negative polarity sensitivity. The term negative polarity items (NPIs) has been introduced in the literature to refer to forms whose distribution was observed to polarize in negative contexts. NPIs can vary from indefinites that take a special form when they occur in the scope of negation, e.g. any in English, to DPs functioning as minimizers, e.g. a drop, verbal idiomatic expressions such as lift a finger, and more. NPIs are often characterized indirectly by analyzing their distribution in terms of licensing contexts. Sentential negation is a typical licensor that is required to c-command an NPI. A weaker but more inclusive semantic notion of negativity shared by many licensing environments is provided by downward monotonicity. Distributional patterns also led to distinguishing between weak NPIs and stronger NPIs, the latter being restricted to a subset of contexts from the broad selection of licensing environments.

Keywords: negative polarity, NPI, downward monotonicity, NPI licensor, NPI licensing, context, negation, Strawson downward entailment, neg-raising, aspect

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