Hadas Kotek co-authors Linguistic Analysis article on Tibetan NPIs

January 30, 2017

Michael Yoshitaka Erlewine (National University of Singapore) and lecturer Hadas Kotek have recently published an article in the journal Linguistic Analysis as part of a special issue on “The Formal Syntax, Semantics, and Morphology of South Asian Languages.” Their paper is titled “Even-NPIs in Dharamsala Tibetan,” and the abstract appears below:

In this paper, we investigate two series of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) in Dharamsala Tibetan: one series uses the numeral ‘one’ with an ᴇᴠᴇɴ particle; the other series combines a wh-word with the same ᴇᴠᴇɴ particle, and may appear with or without the numeral ‘one.’ We discuss the relation of these NPIs to indefinite expressions in Dharamsala Tibetan and document their syntactic licensing conditions. We show that NPIs are licensed in the scope of a clause-mate negation and in questions, but not in other downward-entailing environments. We then present a compositional semantics for these two types of NPIs which, based on Lahiri’s (1998) analysis of similar constructions in Hindi, provides an explanation for their negative-polarity dependency. Our analysis for wh-ᴇᴠᴇɴ NPIs takes advantage of the Hamblin (1973) denotation of wh-words as sets of alternatives and the fact that ᴇᴠᴇɴ introduces two presuppositions—an additive one and a scalar one. Allowing the additive component of ᴇᴠᴇɴ to scope independently of the scalar part as proposed in Crni​č (2011), the additive part of ᴇᴠᴇɴ is used to generate an indefinite out of the wh-word. The scalar component is used to ensure that ᴇᴠᴇɴ-NPIs can only be used in downward entailing contexts.
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