LINGUIST List 9.1365

Thu Oct 1 1998

Sum: Italian Negation

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  1. Adam Przepiorkowski, Sum: Italian Negation

Message 1: Sum: Italian Negation

Date: Wed, 30 Sep 1998 14:02:25 +0100
From: Adam Przepiorkowski <adampsfs.nphil.uni-tuebingen.de>
Subject: Sum: Italian Negation

Dear Linguists, 

About a month ago, I sent a query to the LINGUIST asking native speakers of
Italian to make grammaticality judgements on sentences involving n-words
such as `nessuno'. I am very grateful to everybody who replied: Maria
Aloni, Pier Marco Bertinetto, Grazia Busa, Nicola Cancedda, Dominico Lembo,
Nicola Mastidoro, Paola Monachesi, Maurizio Tirassa and Nino Vessella.

Here are the original examples and the summary of the judgements (I will
forward the original answers on request):

>I Which readings do you get (not necessarily with neutral
> intonation; if it is not neutral, please, indicate it):
>
>(1) Voleva sapere se nessuno ha / aveva telefonato.
>
>`She wanted to know whether anybody had phoned.'
>`She wanted to know whether nobody had phoned.'

All speakers (with one exception) get the first reading, and almost all of
them get the second reading, at least when `nessuno' is stressed or
`veramente' added to the embedded clause.


>(2) Voleva sapere se ha telefonato nessuno.
>
>`She wanted to know whether anybody had phoned.'
>`She wanted to know whether nobody had phoned.'

Most speakers get only the first reading, although two of them get the
second with `veramente'.


>(3) Voleva sapere se nessuno non ha telefonato.
>
>`She wanted to know whether anybody hadn't phoned.'
>`She wanted to know whether it is the case that nobody hadn't phoned.'
>(i.e., everybody phoned)

>(4) Voleva sapere se non ha telefonato nessuno.
>
>`She wanted to know whether anybody hadn't phoned.'
>`She wanted to know whether it is the case that nobody hadn't phoned.'
>(i.e., everybody phoned)

Here the judgements were very unstable. Most speakers reported processing
difficulties, some said that ``nobody would use either of these
sentences,'' some said it was ungrammatical. (Admittedly, the
translations I gave were not very clear.)

As for the speakers who could process (3) and (4), the following readings
were reported.

Readings of (3):

- the first reading of the two above (1 speaker)
- the second reading of the two above (2 speakers)

Readings of (4):

- the first reading of the two above (1 speaker)
- `She wanted to know whether nobody phoned' (4 speakers)
- `She wanted to know whether anybody phoned' (4 speakers (one with
 reservations)) 

For the two last readings, there is a 1-element intesection of the sets of
speakers who get them (i.e., for one speaker (4) is ambiguous).


>II What is the acceptability status of the following
> sentences, and what *exactly* do they mean?
>
>(5) Giovanni non ha dato a Tommaso una caramella, ma (solo) una
>cioccolata

Acceptable for all. Meaning: "Giovanni has not given Tommaso a candy, but
[he has given him (only)] a chocolate".


>(6) Giovanni non ha dato una caramella a nessuno, ma (solo) una
>cioccolata.

Judgements range from `not acceptable, no meaning' (most speakers) to
acceptable with the following meaning: ``Giovanni didn't give a candy to
anybody, but he gave a chocolate to somebody.'' For one speaker it may
also mean ``G. did not give (him/her) a xxx at all!! He (just) gave
(him/her) a yyy.''

>(7) A nessuno ha dato Giovanni una caramella, ma (solo) una
>cioccolata.

Those speakers who didn't accept (6), also didn't accept (7). Those who
accepted (6), said that (7) meant the same, but was `somewhat literary' or
`marked'.


>III Do you get these ambiguities?
>
>(8) La presenza di nessuno potrebbe metterla in imbarazzo.
>
>`The presence of noone could embarass her.'
>
>(a) There is no x such that [the presence of x could embarass her].
>(b) [The state of there being no x such that x were present]
> could embarass her.

Most speakers get only (a), although two of them get both (a) and (b).
(One speaker doesn't get either.) This sentence is from Longobardi 1991
(p.118, n.14) (references below), who gives it both readings.


>(9) Dubito che nessuno venga.
>
>(a) `I doubt noone will come.' (i.e., I think somebody will come.)
>(b) `I doubt someone will come.' (i.e., I think nobody will come.)

Most speakers say that this is a clear case of lack of ambiguity: they
get only the (a) reading. One speaker couldn't get either reading, and one
said that ``(b) is certainly not the preferred reading, but I guess you can
get it here''. This sentence comes from Zanuttini 1991 (p.142), who gives
it both readings.


REFERENCES:

Longobardi, G. (1991). In defence of the correspondence hypothesis: Island
effects and parasitic constructions in logical form. In J.~Huang and
R.~May (Eds.), Logical Structure and Linguistic Structure,
pp. 149--198. Dordrecht: Reidel. 

Zanuttini, R. (1991). Syntactic Properties of Sentential Negation. A
Comparative Study of Romance Languages. PhD dissertation, University of
Pennsylvania.


Once again, thank you to all the above mentioned Italian speakers for their
help. A draft of a paper making use of some of these judgements can be
found here (comments welcome):

http://www.sfs.nphil.uni-tuebingen.de/~adamp/Drafts/italian.ps

Best regards,

	Adam P.

- - ,
ADAM PRZEPIORKOWSKI

Universitaet Tuebingen, GK ILS office: (+49 7071) 2972741
Seminar fuer Sprachwissenschaft home: (+49 7071) 62410
Wilhelmstr. 113 email: adampsfs.nphil.uni-tuebingen.de
D-72074 Tuebingen 
Germany

WWW: http://www.sfs.nphil.uni-tuebingen.de/~adamp/
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