The classification of negative polarity items : evidence from Dutch and Afrikaans

Ter Horst, Paulus Willem (1998) The classification of negative polarity items : evidence from Dutch and Afrikaans. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.

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Abstract

In this thesis I discuss the problem of negative polarity items (NPls). NPis are items that have to be licensed by a certain group of expressions. In this group of expressions which can trigger NPIs we find, among other things: negations, adversative expressions, questions and conditionals. I show that there is an important problem for a grammatical approach to negative polarity: the group of expressions which can licence NPls can't be adequately defined in a grammatical way. There is, however, a semantic way of defining the group of expressions that can licence NPIs. In semantics the group is often referred to as the group of "triggers". It can be proven logically that the group of triggers can be divided into four subgroups: a group of downward-entailing expressions, antimultiplicative expressions, anti-additive expressions and antimorphic expressions. By carrying out a corpus study I find evidence for the hypothesis that the way in which NPIs are licenced by the triggers with different logical properties originates from the different grammatical classes of NPIs (negative polarity nouns, negative polarity adjectives and negative polarity verbs). Since there is evidence for this causal relation, I argue that a grammatical approach to NPI-triggering is necessary from a formal point of view. I give a Minimalist account of NPI-triggering. To make the Minimalist Program suitable for NPI-triggering I have to assume, however, that the semantic information about triggers is available in the lexicon of the MP.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Polarity, Grammar, Semantics
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Humanities > English Language and Linguistics
ID Code:2773
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:08 May 2012 09:15
Last Modified:08 May 2012 09:15
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