November 30, 2007: Anastasia Giannakidou, Variation and compositionality in polarity items: why scalarity is not enough

[Japanese | English]

4:30pm, November 30, 2007
Keio University, Mita Campus,
Faculty Research Building, Conference Room A (1st floor).
Anastasia Giannakidou, University of Chicago
Variation and compositionality in polarity items: why scalarity is not enough
In this talk, I discuss two distributional patterns of negative polarity items (NPIs): those that are licensed strictly by negation, and those that appear in a broader variety of nonveridical contexts, including questions, propositional attitudes, and modal verbs. I then consider two theories of polarity, and see how they can deal with the variation at hand: the scalarity approach (originating in Kadmon and Landman 1993, and pursued in various forms by Krifka, Lahiri, and Chierchia), and the variation approach (Giannakidou 1998, 2001, to appear), which posits that, alongside scalar NPIs, an additional source of polarity comes from a dependent variable. A dependent variable is one that cannot be interpreted deictically (i.e. cannot be interpreted as a free variable), and some expressions become NPIs because they contain such variables. The scalar approach assumes a unitary lexical source for NPIs—widening plus some sort of EVEN-scalarity— and cannot capture the variation in meaning (scalar and not scalar) or distribution attested in (negative) polarity. Another problem with scalarity is that does not predict the correct status for ill-formed NPIs: it predicts weaker effects (contradictions, presupposition failures) than is actually the case. The variation approach, on the other hand, by allowing more lexical sources, is more consistent with the empirical and interpretational diversity of NPIs, thus giving a more secure foundation for addressing compositionality and predicating the correct status of PIs.

Semantics Research Group
Sponsored by the Global COE program Center for Advanced Research on Logic and Sensibility, Keio University

Last modified: 2007-11-22 13:18:36 JST