Neg Raising and ellipsis (and related issues) revisited

Natural Language Semantics 28 (2):111-140 (2020)
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Abstract

There have been a variety of arguments over the decades both for and against syntactic Neg Raising. Two recent papers :559–576, 2018; Crowley in Nat Lang Semant 27, 1–17, 2019) focus on the interaction of NR effects with ellipsis. These papers examine similar types of data, but come to opposite conclusion: Jacobson shows that the ellipsis facts provide evidence against syntactic NR, whereas Crowley argues in favor of syntactic NR. The present paper revisits the evidence, showing that the key case in Crowley that he uses to argue for syntactic NR contains a confound, while the broader set of evidence in Jacobson continues to support the non-syntactic account. In addition, I reply here to an argument for syntactic NR due originally to Prince and Smaby and elaborated on by Crowley. The key generalization can be shown to disappear once contexts are carefully controlled for. Moreover, Crowley extends the Prince/Smaby argument to show that no inference-based account of NR can survive, but this conclusion rests on the claim that there are cases where ever is vacuous; I show that this is not the case. I also consider the question—discussed in much previous literature—of why under the syntactic approach to NR the class of predicates allowing NR is limited to just those which easily support an Excluded Middle inference. Crowley attempts to provide a principled explanation, speculating that NR is allowed just in case it is ‘semantically vacuous’. I argue that this proposal is problematic and so the challenge to syntactic approaches remains. Finally, I provide a new argument against syntactic NR which centers on the behavior of guess.

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References found in this work

Neg-raising and polarity.Jon Robert Gajewski - 2007 - Linguistics and Philosophy 30 (3):289-328.
Licensing strong NPIs.Jon R. Gajewski - 2011 - Natural Language Semantics 19 (2):109-148.
A scalar implicature-based approach to neg-raising.Jacopo Romoli - 2013 - Linguistics and Philosophy 36 (4):291-353.
Neg-Raising and Neg movement.Paul Crowley - 2019 - Natural Language Semantics 27 (1):1-17.
Compositional Semantics.Pauline I. Jacobson - 2014 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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