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Talk by Luka Crnic (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

 

TITLE:  Negative Polarity Items: A New Perspective

ABSTRACT:  Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) have a more restricted distribution than other expressions in their syntactic categories. While it is uncontroversial that providing an adequate description of this distribution requires recourse to semantics, such a description has remained elusive. This holds, in particular, due to the intricate behavior of NPIs in modal and non-monotone environments, in some of which they exhibit sensitivity to extra-grammatical factors. Drawing on independently-motivated mechanisms in grammar, we show how such descriptive challenges can be answered while maintaining that the special condition that NPIs are subject to is based on a notion of entailment. Along the way, we discuss two further features of the system: its ability to account for variation in the distribution of certain NPIs without further stipulations, and its straightforward compatibility with an explanation of the special condition on NPIs.