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Conjunction meets negation: A study in cross-linguistic variation

Szabolcsi, A. and Haddican, W. (2004) Conjunction meets negation: A study in cross-linguistic variation. Journal of Semantics, 21 (3). pp. 219-249. ISSN 0167-5133

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Abstract

The central topic of this inquiry is a cross-linguistic contrast in the interaction of conjunction and negation. In Hungarian (Russian, Serbian, Italian, Japanese), in contrast to English (German), negated definite conjunctions are naturally and exclusively interpreted as ‘neither’. It is proposed that in Hungarian-type languages conjunctions simply replicate the behaviour of plurals, their closest semantic relatives. The ‘neither’ reading is due to the homogeneity presupposition accompanying distributive prediction over pluralities More puzzling is why English-type languages present a different range of interpretations. By teasing out finer distinctions in focus on connectives, syntactic structure, and context, the paper tracks down missing readings and argues that it is eventually not necessary to postulate a radical cross-linguistic semantic difference. In the course of making that argument it is observed that negated conjunctions on the ‘neither’ reading carry the expectation that the predicate hold of both conjuncts. The paper investigates several hypotheses concerning the source of this expectation.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Language and Linguistic Science (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2009 13:07
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2009 13:07
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jos/21.3.219
Status: Published
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Identification Number: 10.1093/jos/21.3.219
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6867

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