Journal of Semantics 20 (4):329-401 (2003)
|Abstract||This article discusses the semantics of the additive focus particles too and either and the factors governing the alternation between the two. It is argued that too and either are not synonymous, and that this alternation is therefore not a case of morphological suppletion conditioned by polarity. Either must appear in the scope of a downward entailing licensor, just like all negative polarity items (NPIs). Naturally occurring data demonstrate that the licensors of either include not only negation and n‐words, but also negative adjectives, negative predicates, and questions, among others. A tentative explanation is proposed for the more restricted distribution of either in comparison with other NPIs. The claim that either must always be in the scope of its licensor appears to conflict in certain cases with the requirement that a focus‐sensitive particle must c‐command the focused phrase it associates with. This scope paradox is resolved by arguing that in such cases the phrase marked by a pitch accent is actually a contrastive topic, and that either associates with its trace. Finally, there is no need to stipulate an ‘anti‐licensing’ condition for too to explain why it sometimes seems to behave as a positive polarity item; the distribution of too results from its presuppositional semantics in combination a general preference for low attachment of sentence‐final particles and ‘competition’ between too and either|
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