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Bookmark and Share Paper 3314

Modal Scope in Negative Inversion Constructions
Naomi Francis
214-221 (complete paper or proceedings contents)


Negative inversion is a form of subject-auxiliary inversion accompanied by the preposing of a negative expression (e.g., Under no circumstances are you to buy another pet giraffe). It has been claimed that the preposed negative expression must take widest scope in a negative inversion clause (Haegeman, 2000; Büring, 2004; Collins and Postal, 2014). This paper demonstrates that, while the preposed negative expression does obligatorily take scope over quantificational DPs, the deontic positive polarity item (PPI) modal must is able to outscope it. This can be explained if PPI modals undergo covert movement to escape environments where they are not licensed, as proposed by Iatridou and Zeijlstra (2013) and Homer (2015). This picture is complicated by the fact that the epistemic PPI modal must behaves differently from its deontic counterpart in negative inversion constructions. Negative inversion reveals that there is interspeaker variation in the scope-taking possibilities for epistemic modals.

Published in

Proceedings of the 34th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Aaron Kaplan, Abby Kaplan, Miranda K. McCarvel, and Edward J. Rubin
Table of contents
Printed edition: $410.00