Friday, February 25, 2011
Mary Gates Hall Room 241
Department of Linguistics
University of Washington
Disjunction, Negation and Scope in Japanese
I will argue in this talk that negation in Japanese is scopeless and that this proposal allows us to account for the behavior of quantificational expressions (such as disjunctive and conjunctive DPs, quantificantional DPs with the topic marker -wa, an alleged negative polarity item dare-mo ‘who-also’) that are normally understood to interact scopally with negation. To be more specific, I shall show that these quantificational expressions could be understood to have scope over negation and still receive desired semantic interpretations.
This leaves us with one possible counterexample, which concerns wa-marked universal DPs (e.g. subete-no hito-wa ‘all people-topic’, zen-in-wa ‘all members-topic’). When this type of universal DP occurs in a negated sentence, the entire sentence only yields an interpretation in which the quantifier is scoped under negation, or so it seems. For example, Subete-no hito-wa ko-nakat-ta ‘all people-topic come-not-past’ can only mean that not all people came and implicates that some did. It is generally assumed that wa-marked DPs are scoped over other scope-bearing expressions, and the proposal being defended here says that negation is scopeless. Thus, the present proposal predicts just the opposite of what our intuitions say. Despite the apparent failure of the proposal, I contend that the alleged quantified DPs are actually group-denoting expressions (hence, not quantifiers) and that this allows such sentences to produce contrastive implicatures about plural entities that are “smaller” than the maximal group denoted by the alleged universal quantifier DP. This allows us to maintain the thesis that negation in Japanese is scopeless, and also to explain the mechanism of contractive -wa on the side.
Reception to follow in same room.
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