Sailer & Smith with a poster at Sinn und Bedeutung 2022

Manfred Sailer & Suzanne Smith will present a poster at Sinn und Bedeutung 2022, Prague, 14.-16.9.2022, with the title “In ages is not an NPI, which explains its distribution.”

This research is based on Suzanne’s BA thesis, in which she extracted detailed corpus profiles for the negative polarity items (NPIs) in a milion/thousand/… years and contrasted them with the alledged NPI in ages/years/weeks/… .Suzanne found that while the first type of expressions shows the distribution of a strong NPI, the in ages-type of expression does not. In particular, in ages occurs in sentences with weak NPI licensers, but is missing from classical stong NPI-licensing contexts such as the complement clause of I don’t think or doubt.

In their joint poster, Manfred & Suzanne combine these findings with the analysis of in years in Iatridou & Zeijlstra 2021. Manfred & Suzanne argue that instead of being an NPI itself, in ages must take scope over a downward-entailing expression.


Iatridou, Sabine & Hedde Zeijlstra. 2021. The complex beauty of boundary adverbials: In years and until. Linguistic Inquiry 52(1). 89–142. doi:

Sailer, Manfred & Suzanne Smith. 2022. In ages is not an NPI, which explains its distribution. Poster presented at Sinn und Bedeutung 27, Prague. URL: