Intervention effects in NPI licensing

a quantitative assessment of the scalar implicature explanation

Milica Denic, Emmanuel Chemla, Lyn Tieu

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This paper reports on five experiments investigating intervention effects in negative polarity item (NPI) licensing. Such intervention effects involve the unexpected ungrammaticality of sentences that contain an intervener, such as a universal quantifier, in between the NPI and its licensor. For example, the licensing of the NPI any in the sentence *Monkey didn’t give every lion any chocolate is disrupted by intervention. Interveners also happen to be items that trigger scalar implicatures in environments in which NPIs are licensed (Chierchia 2004; 2013). A natural hypothesis, initially proposed in Chierchia (2004), is that there is a link between the two phenomena. In this paper, we investigate whether intervention effects arise when scalar implicatures are derived.
Original languageEnglish
Article number49
Pages (from-to)1–27
Number of pages27
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2018

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • intervention effects
  • negative polarity items
  • scalar implicature
  • experimental semantics

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