Scope economy in positive polarity: Extreme degree quantification

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This paper focuses on degree expressions, such as <i>extremadamente</i>‘extremely’, which cannot occur in negative sentences, thus patterning with Positive Polarity Items (PPIs). I describe the properties of these constructions and offer an analysis that accounts for their incompatibility with negation. Contrary to the standard syntactic view on polarity items, I propose that these PPIs remain in the structural position where they are merged, without checking any positive feature by movement or Agree against certain higher functional projection. Their incompatibility with negation is due to the fact that these constructions denote extreme degree quantification, affirming emphatically the degree to which a property is held. The proposed analysis explains the distribution of these PPIs in negative sentences, as well as the differences between the elements studied and other positive items, establishing a distinction between triggers of positive polarity and positive polarity items.


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