On the ambiguity of N-words in French

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This paper argues that n-words in French are ambiguous between negative quantifiers and bipolar items, which are a type of polar sensitive items that must occur in the contexts that license both negative and positive polarity items. The ambiguity thesis is basically in line with Herbuger’s (2001) analysis of n-words in Spanish, but diverts from it in that she argues them to be lexically ambiguous between negative quantifiers and negative polarity items. I will show that the difference between n-words in French and n-words in Spanish falls out from the difference with respect to the structural position of sentential negation. Also, I will suggest a way of deriving the semantic ambiguity of n-words from a single underlying lexical entry.


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