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.


Full Text:



Bhatt, Rajesh & Vincent Homer. 2015. PPIs and movement. NELS 2015 handout.

Boskovic,Zeljko .2008. Licensing negative constituents and negative concord. In Proceedings of NELS 38, Amherst, MA: GSLA Publications.

Chierchia, Gennaro. 2013. Logic in Grammar. Oxford University Press.

Marcel den Dikken, André Meinunger & Chris Wilder. 2000. Pseudoclefts and ellipsis. Studia Linguistica 54(1). 41–89.

Espinal, M.Teresa & Susagna Tubau. 2016. Interpreting argumental n-words as answers to negative wh-questions. Lingua.

Falaus, Anamaria. 2009. Polarity items and dependent indefinites in Romanian: University of Nantes PhD dissertation.

Gajewski, Jon. 2011. Licensing strong NPIs. Natural Language Semantics 19(2). 109–148.

Giannakidou, Anastasia. 2000. Negative. . . concord? Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 18. 457–523.

Haegeman, Liliane. 1995. The Syntax of Negation. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 75. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Haegeman, Liliane & Rafaella Zanuttini. 1996. Negative concord in West Flemish. In A. Belletti & L. Rizzi (eds.), Parameters and Functional Heads. Essays in Comparative Syntax, 117–197. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Herburger, Elena. 2001. The negative concord puzzle revisited. Natural Language Semantics 9. 241–288.

Iatridou, Sabine & Hedde H. Zeijlstra. 2013. Negation, polarity and deontic modals. Linguistic Inquiry 44(4). 529–568.

Iordachioaia, Gianina. 2009. Negative concord with negative quantifiers: A polyadic quantifier approach to Romanian negative concord: University of Tübingen PhD dissertation.

Krifka, Manfred. 1995. The semantics and pragmatics of polarity items. Linguistic Analysis 25. 209–257.

Ladusaw, William. 1992. Expressing negation. In Proceedings of SALT 2, Columbus, OH: Ohio.

Lahiri, Utpal. 1998. Focus and negative polarity in Hindi. Natural Language Semantics 6. 57–123.

Laka, M. Itziar. 1990. Negation in Syntax: On the Nature of Functional Categories and Projections. Cambridge, MA: MIT PhD dissertation.

Linebarger, Marcia. 1980. The Grammar of Negative Polarity: MIT PhD dissertation. Merchant, Jason. 2004. Fragments and ellipsis. Linguistics and Philosophy 27. 661–738.

Panizza, Danielle & Jacopo Romoli. 2013. On the processing of alternatives, exhaustification and covert negation: the case of mai. In Alternatives in Semantics, 209–237. Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Richards, Norvin. 1997. What moves where when in which language?: MIT PhD dissertation.

Sauerland, Uli & Paul Elbourne. 2002. Total reconstruction, pf movement, and derivational order. Linguistic Inquiry 33(2). 283–319.

de Swart, Henriëtte. 2010. Expression and Interpretation of Negation. Springer.

de Swart, Henriëtte & Ivan A. Sag. 2002. Negation and negative concord in romance. Linguistics and Philosophy 25. 373–417.

Uribe-Etxebarria, Myriam. 1995. Negative polarity item licensing, indefinites and complex predicates. In Mandy Simons & Teresa Galloway (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 5, 346–361.

Watanabe, Akira. 2004. The genesis of negative concord: Syntax and morphology of negative doubling. Linguistic Inquiry 35(4). 559–612.

Weir, Andrew. 2015. Fragment answers and exceptional movement under ellipsis: a PF-movement account. In Thuy Bui & Deniz Özyıldız (ed.), Proceedings of NELS 45, 175–188.

Zanuttini, Rafaella. 1991. Syntactic properties of sentential negation: University of Pennsylvania PhD dissertation.

Zeijlstra, Hedde H. 2004. Sentential Negation and Negative Concord. Utrecht: LOT Publications: University of Amsterdam PhD dissertation.

Zeijlstra, Hedde H. 2008. Negative concord is syntactic agreement. Ms. Amsterdam.

Zwarts, Frans. 1998. Three types of polarity. In F. Hamm & E. Hinrichs (eds.), Plural Quantification, Studies in linguistics and philosophy 69, 177–238. Dordrecht: Kluwer.


Add comment