The gradual erosion of NPI-hood with need verbs in Germanic
This talk addresses the puzzle why there are different ˋneed' verbs in Germanic languages, which all are lexically polysemous and which all display some extent of negative polar behaviour. Whereas all the uses of Dutch ˋhoeven' are negative polar, Modern Swedish ˋbehöva' is mostly distributionally unrestricted and only in its epistemic uses negative polar. Data suggest that this is a result of a gradual erosion of NPI-hood. The diverging behaviour of ˋneed'-verbs in Germanic languages can be most accurately managed assuming that lexical polysemy involves type hierarchy in which the different uses inherit from an abstract entry that defines semantics all these uses share. Moreover, it is concluded that if there is an NPI feature it is mandatorily inherited to all to its descendants. In languages such as Dutch this feature has scope over all uses, in languages such as Modern Swedish. it only bears scope over the epistemic uses.