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Focus and the development of N-words in Spanish

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Abstract

During Spain&#8217;s &#8216;Golden Age&#8217; period, n-words in Spanish, such as <i>nada</i> &#8216;nothing&#8217;, changed from being negative polarity items to negative concord items. During the same period, immediately pre-verbal n-words, which previously had expressed wide-focus for VP constitutes, came to acquire a mildly emphatic interpretation, which survives into the modern language as Quantifier Fronting (Quer 2002) or &#8216;verum-focus&#8217; fronting (Leonetti &#38; Escandell Vidal 2007, 2009). This development, in which negative polarity items seem to acquire a focus feature in the context of becoming negative concord items, is of particular interest because it provides indirect support for Watanabe&#8217;s (2004) account of negative concord, in which a focus feature is crucially implicated.

References

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