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Share Paper 2682

Presuppositional Indefinites Are Positive Polarity Items
Alya Asarina
11-19 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


In this paper, I argue that presuppositional indefinites in English are positive polarity items, while non-presuppositional indefinites are not. This proposal solves the puzzle of why a presuppositional indefinite subject cannot take scope below negation in a matrix context, but can do so in a downward-entailing context (Spector 2004). I show that presuppositional indefinites can be identified when they're subjects of individual-level predicates or when a presuppositional interpretation is forced by Maximize Presupposition (Heim 1991). I demonstrate that presuppositional indefinites share the properties of other positive polarity items. Non-presuppositional indefinites, on the other hand, may freely take scope under negation.

Published in

Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Jaehoon Choi, E. Alan Hogue, Jeffrey Punske, Deniz Tat, Jessamyn Schertz, and Alex Trueman
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Printed edition: $375.00