Theory and experiment in parametric minimalism

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This chapter examines the syntax and semantics of negative elements across Romance languages and proposes that there are three basic parameters that are encoded in the morphemes used to express sentential negation and negative determiners. These parameters define whether simple negation occurs pre- or post-inflection, whether the negation morpheme has a substantive meaning (e.g. Spanish <i>no</i>, Italian <i>non</i>, French <i>pas</i>) or expletive (e.g. French <i>ne</i>) value or else is ambiguous between the two (e.g. Catalan <i>no</i>), and finally whether negative phrases are ambiguous between &#8220;negative operator&#8221; and &#8220;polarity item&#8221; status. The proposal stresses typological implications between having post-inflection negation and post-inflection negative phrases that do not require co-occurrence with a sentential negation. It also tries to explain long puzzling cross-linguistic differences in locality constraints on negative dependencies. The theoretical focus of the work is on exploring how minimalist research on syntactic diversity should be conducted and in which formats its results could be formulated in a rigorous explanatory way.


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