The syntax and semantics of negative questions and answers in Korean and English

Keunhyung Park, Stanley Dubinsky


Differences in Korean and English negative polarity questions (NPQs) are revealed by the interpretation of simple yes-no answers to them. Yes-no answers to NPQs have seemingly unpredictable interpretations (Claus et al. 2017, Holmberg 2013, Kim 2017, Krifka 2017, Kramer & Rawlins 2009, Ladd 1981, Sudo 2013). However, one clearly observable fact is that yes-no answers to English and Korean NPQs can have opposite interpretations. This study: (i) compares the interpretation of positive and negative polarity questions (PPQs and NPQs) in English and Korean; (ii) examines the structure of negation in each language and its interaction with NPQs; and (iii) reports on an online experiment which gathered native speaker interpretations of NPQs in each language under context-free conditions.


semantics; Korean; English; negative polarity questions; proposition external negation (PEN); proposition internal negation (PIN)

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