How to get "even" with desires

Luka Crnic


The scalar particle even imposes a constraint on the likelihood of its prejacent and the alternatives on which it operates. This semantic import of even restricts its distribution: even that associates with a weak predicate in its immediate surface scope – weak even, for short – is acceptable only if it is appropriately embedded (cf. Lahiri 1998). This paper investigates the occurrence of weak even in three modal environments – under non-factive and factive desire predicates and in imperatives. The structure of the paper is the following: Section 1 describes an approach to even according to which even may move at LF (Karttunen & Peters 1979, Lahiri 1998 and others). A prediction of the approach is that weak even is licit only if it is embedded under a non-upward-entailing operator. Section 2 presents an apparent puzzle for the approach: weak even may occur in non-negative desire statements and in imperatives, i.e. in environments that appear to be upward-entailing. Section 3 discusses two strategies for dealing with these facts: according to the first strategy, desire predicates and the imperative operator are non-monotone (e.g. Heim 1992); according to the second strategy, they are upward-entailing (e.g. von Fintel 1999) and weak even is rescued by covert exhaustification. Section 4 concludes the paper by discussing the licensing of certain negative polarity items in these environments.


even; negative polarity; modality; non-monotonicity; context dependency

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