Superlatives, NPIs and Most

Journal of Semantics 27 (1):125-137 (2010)

The ability of English determiner most to license negative polarity items (NPIs) has long stood as a puzzle for theories that follow Ladusaw (1979) in claiming that NPIs must appear in the scope of downward entailing (DE) operators. Most licenses NPIs such as any and ever in its restrictor but is not downward, or upward, entailing with respect to its restrictor. In this paper, I argue that despite appearances to the contrary, NPIs in the restrictor of most are in the scope of a DE operator. I make crucial use of a recent proposal by Hackl (2009) to compositionally analyze determiner most as a superlative expression. When the semantics of the superlative morpheme is spelled out correctly, this derives the result that most licenses NPIs in its restrictor. In addition, I show that this approach correctly predicts the NPI-licensing properties of relative most, as in English the most students. Finally, I discuss some consequences of this approach for the proper integration of contextual restriction into the semantics of the superlative morpheme
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DOI 10.1093/jos/ffp013
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References found in this work BETA

On Quantifier Domain Restriction.Jason Stanley & Zoltán Gendler Szabó - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):219--61.
On Quantifier Domain Restriction.Jason Stanley & Zoltan Gendler Szabó - 2000 - Mind and Language 15 (2-3):219-261.
Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi.Utpal Lahiri - 1998 - Natural Language Semantics 6 (1):57-123.

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Citations of this work BETA

Constraints on the Lexicalization of Logical Operators.Roni Katzir & Raj Singh - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (1):1-29.
Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung 9.Emar Maier, Corien Bary & Janneke Huitink (eds.) - 2005 - Nijmegen Centre for Semantics.
Negative Polarity as Scope Marking.Chris Barker - 2018 - Linguistics and Philosophy 41 (5):483-510.

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