The landscape of EVEN

Abstract

This paper explores the role that the scalar properties and presuppositions of even play in creating polarity sensitive even meanings crosslinguistically (henceforth EVEN). I discuss the behavior of three lexically distinct Greek counterparts of even in positive, negative, subjunctive sentences, and polar questions. These items are shown to be polarity sensitive, and a three-way distinction is posited between a positive polarity (akomi ke), a negative polarity (oute), and a ‘flexible scale’even(esto) which does not introduce likelihood, but is associated with scales made salient by the context. The analysis is a refinement of Rooth’s original idea that negative polarity is involved in the interpretation of English even, and establishes further that the “negative” polarity domain of EVEN includes a sensitivity that is not strictly speaking negative (flexible scale esto). The distributional restrictions of EVEN items are shown to follow from distinct presuppositions (positive polarity and flexible scale EVEN), or from their lexical featural specification (negative polarity EVEN), a result that squares neatly with the fact that ill-formedness is systematic pragmatic deviance in the former case but robust ungrammaticality in the latter. This result supports the by now widely accepted view that polarity dependencies are not of uniform nature, and that we need to distinguish presupposition failures (which are weaker and possibly..

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Citations of this work

A Compositional Semantics for ‘Even If’ Conditionals.Mathieu Vidal - 2017 - Logic and Logical Philosophy 26 (2):237-276.
Our even.Sabine Iatridou & Sergei Tatevosov - 2016 - Linguistics and Philosophy 39 (4):295-331.
Perspectival Plurality, Relativism, and Multiple Indexing.Dan Zeman - 2018 - In Rob Truswell, Chris Cummins, Caroline Heycock, Brian Rabern & Hannah Rohde (eds.), Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 21. Semantics Archives. pp. 1353-1370.

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References found in this work

A Natural History of Negation.Laurence R. Horn - 1989 - University of Chicago Press.
A Natural History of Negation.Laurence R. Horn - 1989 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 24 (2):164-168.
A Natural History of Negation.Jon Barwise & Laurence R. Horn - 1991 - Journal of Symbolic Logic 56 (3):1103.
Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi.Utpal Lahiri - 1998 - Natural Language Semantics 6 (1):57-123.
Positive polarity - negative polarity.Anna Szabolcsi - 2004 - Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 22 (2):409-452..

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