Fragment answers and double negation in strict negative concord languages

Anamaria Fălăuș, Andreea Nicolae


This paper revisits the phenomenon of negative concord (NC) as an instance of polarity sensitivity. We shed light on a new set of data regarding n-words as fragment answers to negative questions and 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, we offer an updated version of the hypothesis that n-words are strong NPIs, making use of an alternative and exhaustification approach. We argue that the difference between n-words and other NPIs should be seen as 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. 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.


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