The pragmatics of grammar: negation and polarity
May 19-20, 2015
Université de Caen
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)
Pierre Larrivée (Caen) on polarity in factive contexts.
Confirmed interest : Anastasia Giannakidou (Chicago), Michael Israel (Maryland).
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 mechanisms.
- 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.
This international conference invites new presentations that resolve outstanding issues concerning negation and polarity, in relation to pragmatics. Proposals are invited, spelling out the research problem and background, the notions and criteria, the method and data used, the key findings and their relevance in advancing the understanding of the pragmatics/grammar interface. The 500-word anonymous abstract is to be sent in .doc format to the workshop organizer (Pierre.Larrivee@Unicaen.fr) by November 1st 2014, along with a file providing the title of the paper, the identity, affiliation and addresses of the author(s), and an indication of whether a poster presentation could be considered. A notification will be sent at the beginning of January 2015, and the draft versions of papers will be expected before the conference, for distribution among participants..