NPI licensing, intervention and discourse representation structures in HPSG




Negative Polarity Items (NPI) are expressions such as English 'ever' and 'lift a finger' that only occur in sentences that are somehow negative. NPIs have puzzled linguists working in syntax, semantics and pragmatics, but no final conclusion as to which module of the grammar should be responsible for the licensing has been reached. Within HPSG interest in NPI has developed only relatively recently and is mainly inspired by the entailment-based approach of Ladusaw 1980 and Zwarts 1997. Since HPSG's CONTENT value is a semantic representation, the integration of such a denotational theory cannot be done directly. Adopting Discourse Representation Theory (DRT, Kamp and Reyle 1993, von Genabith et al. 2004) I show that it is possible to formulate a theory of NPI licensing that uses purely representational notions. In contrast to most other frameworks in semantics, DRT attributes theoretical significance to the representation of meaning, i.e. to a logical form, and not only to the denotation itself. This makes DRT particularly well-suited to my purpose.




How to Cite

Sailer, Manfred. 2007. NPI licensing, intervention and discourse representation structures in HPSG. Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar 214–234. (doi:10.21248/hpsg.2007.13) ( (Accessed December 8, 2022.)