Even-NPIs in YES/NO Questions

Natural Language Semantics 12 (4):319-343 (2004)
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Abstract

It has been a long-standing puzzle that Negative Polarity Items appear to split into two subvarieties when their effect on the interpretation of questions is taken into account: while questions with any and ever can be used as unbiased requests of information, questions with so-called `minimizers', i.e. idioms like lift a finger and the faintest idea, are always biased towards a negative answer (cf. Ladusaw 1979). Focusing on yes/no questions, this paper presents a solution to this puzzle. Specifically it is shown that in virtue of containing even (cf. Heim 1984), minimizers, unlike any, trigger a presupposition, which reduces the set of the possible answers to a question to the singleton containing the negative answer

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References found in this work

A Natural History of Negation.Laurence R. Horn - 1989 - University of Chicago Press.
Assertion.Robert Stalnaker - 1978 - Syntax and Semantics (New York Academic Press) 9:315-332.
Syntax and Semantics of Questions.Lauri Karttunen - 1977 - Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (1):3--44.
A Natural History of Negation.Laurence R. Horn - 1991 - Philosophy and Rhetoric 24 (2):164-168.
Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi.Utpal Lahiri - 1998 - Natural Language Semantics 6 (1):57-123.

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