Polarity in natural language: Predication, quantification and negation in particular and characterizing sentences [Book Review]
Graduate studies at Western
Linguistics and Philosophy 23 (3):213-308 (2000)
|Abstract||The present paper is an attempt at the investigation of the nature of polarity contrast in natural languages. Truth conditions for natural language sentences are incomplete unless they include a proper definition of the conditions under which they are false. It is argued that the tertium non datur principle of classical bivalent logical systems is empirically invalid for natural languages: falsity cannot be equated with non-truth. Lacking a direct intuition about the conditions under which a sentence is false, we need an independent foundation of the concept of falsity. The solution I offer is a definition of falsity in terms of the truth of a syntactic negation of the sentence. A definition of syntactic negation is proposed for English (Section 1). The considerations are applied to the analysis of definites in non-generic sentences and the analysis of generic indefinites. These two domains are investigated in breadth and some depth and the analyses compared and connected. During the discussion of non-generic predications with definite arguments and their respective negations (Section 2), a theory of predication is developed, basic to which is the distinction between integrative and summative predication. Summative predication, e.g., distributive plural, leads to contrary, all-or-no-thing, polarity contrasts due to the fundamental Presupposition of Indivisibility. Further-more, levels of predication are distinguished that are built up by various processes of constructing macropredications from lexical predicates. Given this analysis, particular (i.e., non-generic) quantification (Section 3) can be reanalyzed as an integrative, first-order form of predication that fills the truth-value gaps created by summative predication. The account comprises both nominal and adverbial quantification and relates quantification to the simpler types of predication discussed in Section 2.|
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