Negative polarity items: a case for questions as licensers

Bernhard Schwarz


Existing analyses of NPI licensing in questions instantiate two different approaches. One approach holds that questions are NPI licensers in their own right (Kadmon & Landman 1990; Krifka 1995, 2003; van Rooy 2003); the other holds that, in virtue of their syntax, questions host silent expressions that do the licensing for them, such as a silent version of exclusive only (Nicolae 2013, 2015) or negation not (Guerzoni & Sharvit 2014). Based one a pattern of NPI licensing in alternative questions, this paper presents a case for the former approach. Specifically, it offers an argument for the analysis developed in Krifka 1995, 2003 and van Rooy 2003, which centrally refers to questions’ information theoretic entropy (Shannon 1948).

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