Towards a Unified Account of Positive and Negative Polarity: Evidence from Romanian

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It has been recently argued (Szabolcsi 2004) that the distribution of positive polarity items can be accounted for in terms of negative polarity items-licensing. I present empirical evidence in favor of the strong relation between NPIs and PPIs on the basis of two types of polarity items in Romanian: n-words and the PPI <i>oarecare</i>. I argue that these dependent elements are sensitive to the same semantic property, namely antimorphy: the former are licensed only in antimorphic contexts, the latter are anti-licensed in the same anti-morphic environments. This generalization provides strong support for Szabolcsi’s claim that positive polarity is not just a prohibition to appear in the scope of negation, but rather “halfway licensing” of polarity sensitive items. At a more theoretical level, I argue that resumptive quantification is the semantic mechanism underlying the interpretation of both positive and negative polarity.


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