On the Licensing of Understating NPIs: Manipulating the domain of degrees for Japanese 'anmari' and 'sonnani'

Ai Matsui


Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) often have an effect of strengthening the statements which contain them. However, there are also NPIs that contribute to make a weaker claim such as all that (Israel 1996, 2006; van Rooy 2003). I analyze two kinds of such NPIs, namely the degree modifier 'a(n)mari' and 'sonnani' in Japanese, which roughly translate as 'very/much' and '(all) that'. In doing so, two points are considered. First, since the NPIs in question are degree modifiers, I would like to adopt a degree-based semantics and combine it with the idea of domain widening proposed for determiner NPIs such as any. In particular, building on a version of Chierchia’s (2006) framework, I consider domain widening in terms of domains of degrees. Second, to capture the nature of understatement, I refer to the notion of quality-based strengthening, rather than informativity/entailment-based strengthening (Israel 2006; Krifka 1995; van Rooy 2003).


NPIs; degree modifiers; understatement; Japanese

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/salt.v21i0.2610

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