Kuhn, Jeremy. 2018. The dynamics of negative concord.

Manuscript, Institut Jean-Nicod (CNRS), Ecole Normale Supérieure.

[Full paper at LingBuzz]

Abstract: Concord describes a natural language phenomenon in which a single logical meaning is expressed syntactically on multiple lexical items. The canonical example is negative concord, in which multiple negative expressions are used, but a single negation is interpreted. Formally similar phenomena have been observed for the redundant marking of distributivity and definiteness. Inspired by recent dynamic analyses of these latter two phenomena, we extend a similar dynamic analysis to negative concord. We propose that negative concord items introduce a discourse referent (like an existential), but then test that no discourse referent has been introduced in any assignment. These apparently contradictory requirements are licensed with split scope around negation: introduction occurs below negation; the test appears above it. The analysis successfully predicts that negative concord items must be licensed by a sufficiently local negative operator. We further show that modulation of what is at-issue can account for cases in which NC items themselves carry negative force.

Keywords: Negative concord, dynamic semantics, split scope