[UMR] Anamaria Falaus (UMR 6310 LLING, CNRS/ U. Nantes)
Svp notez l'heure inhabituelle : 10h30-12h30
Anamaria Falaus (UMR 6310 LLING, CNRS/U. Nantes)
Negative concord and double negation in fragment answers
This talk revisits the phenomenon of negative concord (NC) as an instance of polarity sensitivity. Building on insights from the syntactic approach to negative concord (e.g Zeijlstra 2004, 2008) and recent alternative-based approaches to negative polarity (e.g. Chierchia 2013), I argue that n-words (e.g. nessuno, personne, nimeni) can and should be analyzed as an instance of negative polarity.
The main evidence and empirical focus of the talk is a new set of data, concerning fragment answers to negative questions. Based on evidence from 8 different strict negative concord languages, I show that we find unexpected double negation (DN) readings for fragment n-words in view of their behavior in non-elliptical constructions. To account for this pattern, I offer an updated version of the hypothesis that n-words are strong negative polarity items (NPIs), making use of an alternative-based approach to polarity. Specifically, I argue that the difference between n-words and other NPIs is the result of two parameters: (i) whether reconstruction of the polarity item is allowed, and (ii) whether the polarity item has the ability to license a covert negation operator.
This analysis allows us to maintain a uniform semantics for n-words and NPIs, as well as to derive the restricted set of possible licensors of n-words. The result is an explanatory account of NC and DN readings in both non-elliptical and elliptical environments, which allows for an easier integration of n-words in the broader typology of polarity sensitive items. In the final part of the talk, I discuss how this analysis extends to non-strict negative concord languages (Spanish, Italian, Catalan) and less easily classifiable languages, such as French.