The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

LFRG 9/18 - Naomi Francis

Speaker: Naomi Francis (MIT)
Time: Friday, September 18, 2-3:30
Place: 32-D831
Title: Positive polarity items and scope in negative inversion constructions

Negative inversion is a construction that involves the preposing of a negative expression and obligatory subject-auxiliary inversion (e.g. ‘Never have I seen such a majestic giraffe!’). Collins and Postal (2014) claim that the preposed negative element takes scope over everything else in the clause. However, I show that, while the negative expression does take scope over quantificational DPs, deontic modals should, must, and to be to, which have been argued to be positive polarity items (Iatridou and Zeijlstra 2013), are able to outscope it. I explore ways of capturing this fact and argue that several initially appealing explanations turn out to be problematic.