March 2006


In Atlas (1991, 1993, 1996b) I argued that sentences containing the generalized quantifier NP ‘only a’ , where ‘a’ is an individual constant, in sentences like ‘Only God can make a tree’, ‘Only Muriel voted for Hubert’[Horn 1969], sometimes license Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) like ever and minimizer NPIs like give…a red cent and sometimes do not, as the data in (1a), (2a), (3a), and (4) show. Data from Horn (1996b) and McCawley (1981, 1988) showed that ‘only a’ would license some minimizer NPIs, e.g. (5). In fact the only data that Horn (2005) presents to defend the view that ‘only a’ is a NPI licenser are examples containing the minimizers lift a finger, gives a hoot, and at all. But it is only on the grounds of the distributional evidence of licensing minimizer NPIs that Horn (e.g. Horn 2005) calls ‘only a’ a “negative” generalized quantifier NP.



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