ESSLLI'2008 Introductory Course on
Negative Polarity Items: Corpus Linguistics, Semantics,
August 4 - 8, 2008
A course held as part of the
20th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information
August 4-15, 2008, Hamburg, Germany
Lecturers: Frank Richter,
NPIs (ever, lift a finger) are expressions whose analysis minimally
involves syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. NPIs are assumed to be
licensed by negation, different degrees of negation being required by
sub-classes of NPIs. There is also a fuzzy and incompletely understood
borderline area of licensing environments that are not logically
negative in an obvious sense (questions, subjunctives,...).
Research on NPIs long proceeded within the confines of traditional
theoretical subdisciplines, but recently methods from corpus
linguistics and psycholinguistics offer new avenues of investigation.
In this course we begin with a data-driven approach to review our
current understanding of NPIs. After discussing automatic retrieval
and classification of NPIs, we investigate characteristic classes of
NPIs to see which properties and licensing environments from the
literature fit which classes. This will lead to the formulation of new
empirical questions about natural classes of NPIs in different
languages, connecting the insights from theoretical linguistics and
Corpora can provide interesting data to investigate existing theories,
but they need to be checked carefully. In the second part of this
course we will show how psycholinguistic methods help in (a)
validating naturally occurring corpus data and (b) establishing
theoretically important distinctions that are not reliably accessible
to intuitions. We will discuss a number of experiments (questionnaire,
reading time and ERP studies) designed to find out whether candidate
expressions are NPIs at all, to determine the required strength of
licensing environments and to test intervention effects. Other topics
include the interaction of NPI licensing with NegRaising predicates,
complement set anaphora readings induced by some quantifiers, and
licensing across supposed syntactic boundaries. After reviewing
experimental evidence we will return to the challenges these data
present to existing theories.
Papers and materials that are not freely accessible on the Internet
are available to course participants from a password-protected
webpage. When you click on the corresponding links below you are automatically
directed to that page. All papers and links are summarized in the
restricted course area.
If you are an ESSLLI'08 participant and have registered for this course, you
may want to contact Frank Richter for the password.
Slides, Material and Homework Assignments by Day
- Gennaro Chierchia (2006).
Broaden your views. Implicatures of Domain
Widening and the 'Logicality' of Language. In: Linguistic Inquiry,
- Heiner Drenhaus, Stefan Frisch and Douglas Saddy (2005).
Processing Negative Polarity Items: When Negation Comes Through the
In: Stephan Kepser and Marga Reis (eds.), Linguistic Evidence: Empirical,
Theoretical and Computational Perspectives. pp. 145--163. Mouton de Gruyter.
- Kai von Fintel (1999).
NPI Licensing, Strawson Entailment, and
In: Journal of Semantics, 16:99--148.
- Jack Hoeksema (2000).
Negative Polarity Items: Triggering, Scope, and C-Command.
In: Laurence R. Horn and Yasuhiko Kato (eds.):
Negation and Polarity: Syntactic and Semantic Perspectives,
pp. 115--146. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
- Manfred Krifka (1995). The Semantics and Pragmatics of Polarity
Items. In: Linguistic Analysis, 25:209--257.
(Link to pre-publication version on the author's webpage)
- Timm Lichte (2005).
Corpus-based Acquisition of Complex Negative Polarity Items.
In: Judit Gervain (ed.): Proceedings of the Tenth ESSLLI Student
Session, pp. 157--168.
- Timm Lichte and Jan-Philipp Soehn (2007).
The Retrieval and Classification of Negative Polarity Items Using Statistical
In: Sam Featherston and Wolfgang Sternefeld (eds.): Roots:
Linguistics in Search of its Evidential Base, pp. 249--266. Berlin:
Mouton de Gruyter.
- Douglas Saddy and Heiner Drenhaus and Stefan Frisch (2004).
Processing Polarity Items: Contrastive Licensing Costs.
In: Brain and Language, 90:495--502.
- John McHardy Sinclair.
Case Study of the NPI 'budge'.
From: John McHardy Sinclair (2004). Trust the text: language, corpus and
discourse. Ed. with Ronald Carter. pp. 140--148. London: Routledge.
- Frans Zwarts (1998).
Three Types of Polarity.
In: Fritz Hamm and Erhard Hinrichs (eds.), Plurality and
Quantification. pp. 177--238. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
In case of problems or for comments, please contact:
Last modified: Fri Aug 8 23:55:26 CEST 2008