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Conference Information

Full Title: Pragmatics of Grammar: Negation and Polarity

Short Title: PRAGNEP
Location: Caen, Normandy, France
Start Date: 19-May-2015 - 20-May-2015
Contact: Pierre Larrivee
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Chierchia’s latest book (2013) argues that the interpretation of grammar is structured by logic-based processes following investigation of negative polarity. A number of behaviours of negation and polarity have however been suggested to relate to pragmatic determinisms.

- The bulk of negative polarity uses are found in contexts with a semantic value successively defined as affective, downward-entailing or antiveridical. Since Linebarger (1987), it has been observed that contexts outside these do license NPI when pragmatically charged ('She persisted long after she had any hope of succeeding'). Expressive indexes have been proposed to characterise licensing factives (Giannakidou 2006). Unexpected licensing cases have been related to by assertoric inertia where it is the illocutionary point of the utterance that accounts for the use of NPIs (Horn in preparation).
- The licensing of NPIs has been envisaged as subject to surface order constraints such that infelicity would result from precedence of the NPI to its licensor ('Anyone didn’t come'). However, it is not clear that such constraints are universal (languages with sentence final negatives being a case in point), and that all NPIs are equally subject to it (Larrivée 2007).

Regarding negation itself, an increasing number of analyses underline the importance of what the negative is responding to, converging to illustrate the role of Information Structure for a variety of linguistic phenomena.

- Initially thought to support syntactic analyses, intervention effects, where negation makes wh questions infelicitous ( '?* When didn’t she respond?'), are increasingly seen as relating to pragmatic factors (Spector 1996, Abrusán 2008, Tomioka 2009). In particular, felicity of negative questions seems to improve significantly when the underlying proposition is a Question Under Discussion, as suggested by acceptable 'When did she respond and when didn’t she respond?'.
- Information Structure also seems to be involved in negative fragment answers and corrections (Vicente 2010), as it is for most elliptical structures. It thus may be that fragmentary negative sequences could be interpreted with the support of contextual pragmatic information rather than syntactic reconstruction mechanisms.
- The metalinguistic and descriptive uses of negatives have considerable impact on the acceptable discursive follow-ups (Ducrot 1972, Horn 2001), but to what extent does the relation to antecedent discourse help delineate these two categories? While claims that these categories relate to different informational patterns are occasionally made, more systematic documentation is still awaited.
- Negative dependencies have been extensively studied (Biberauer & Roberts 2011, Haegeman & Lohndal 2011, Zeijlstra 2004 i.a.), and unexpectedly, prosodic (Tubau et al 2013) and syntactic (Déprez 2000) triggers do not categorically yield negative concord or double negation interpretations. Puskas (2012) among others has suggested that double negation may be correlated to information partition in a way that negative concord is not. Again, such a correlation is awaiting empirical confirmation.

Keynote speaker: Laurence R. Horn (Yale). Negative inversion(s).

Confirmed participants: Jack Hoeksema (Groningen) on neg-raising and polarity, Olga Kellert (Berlin) on negation in exclamations and interrogations, Patrick Duffley (Laval) and Pierre Larrivée (Caen) on polarity in factive contexts.

Confirmed interest: Anastasia Giannakidou (Chicago), Michael Israel (Maryland).
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Pragmatics; Syntax
LL Issue: 25.1186

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