A new perspective on the shielding property of positive polarity

Andreea Cristina Nicolae


In certain languages, disjunctions exhibit positive polarity behavior, which Szabolcsi (2002) argues can be diagnosed via the following four properties: (i) anti-licensing: no narrow scope interpretation under a clausemate negation, (ii) rescuing: acceptable in the scope of an even number of negative operators, (iii) shielding: acceptable under a clausemate negation if a universal quantifier intervenes, and (iv) locality of anti-licensing: acceptable in the scope of an extra-clausal negation. In recent work, Nicolae (2016, 2017), building on Spector 2014, argues that what distinguishes PPI disjunctions from polarity insensitive disjunctions is the fact that PPI-disjunctions obligatorily trigger epistemic inferences. That analysis, however, only accounts for the first two PPI properties. This paper extends that analysis to account for the second two properties, concluding that they should be seen as instantiations of the same phenomena, namely shielding by a universal quantifier.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v27i0.4156