Spurious NPI licensing and exhaustification

Jon Ander Mendia, Ethan Poole, Brian Dillon


Under certain circumstances, speakers are subject to so-called spurious NPI licensing effects, whereby they perceive that NPIs without a c–commanding licensor are in fact licensed and grammatical. Previous studies have all involved the presence of a licensor in a position that linearly precedes, but does not c–command the NPI. In this paper, we show that spurious NPI licensing can occur in the outright absence of a licensor, in contexts that force an exhaustive parse. We reason that at least these instances of spurious NPI licensing might be reduced to the E XH operator pragmatically “rescuing” the NPI, in the sense of Giannakidou (1998, 2006).

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3765/salt.v28i0.4437