We are happy to announce a talk by Elena Herburger (Georgetown University) in the Semantics Colloquium.

The talk will take place on campus in IG 4.301.
If you wish to participate virtually via Zoom, please contact Lennart Fritzsche for the link.

Title: Negative Concord and NPI licensing: their semantic and historical relation

Date: December 7, 2023

Time: 4 pm – 6 pm ct

In this talk I ask how Negative Concord comes into existence and how it changes over time. Focusing largely on Romance, I explore how treating Negative Concord as but a name for a lexical ambiguity between a negative reading and a corresponding existential(-like) reading with the distribution of an NPI (e.g. Herburger 2001) can help shed light on the fact that Negative Concord terms often originate from NPIs, and can gradually come to be ‘more negative’. This process is argued to be more advanced in French than in Spanish, a difference that I attribute to a difference in the realization of sentential negation
(no vs. pas). On a more general level, I argue that though NPIs are generally licensed in downward entailing contexts (e.g. Fauconnier 1975, Ladusaw 1979), their licensing should still be treated as a grammatical, feature based matter (e.g. Klima 1964, Dowty 1994, Ludlow 2002). A feature based analysis not only straightforwardly captures that unlicensed NPIs lead to ungrammaticality (cf. Krifka 1995, Lahiri 1998; Chierchia 2013), I hope to show that it is also useful in describing the history of Negative Concord terms.