On the tri-ambiguous status of 'any': the view from child language

Research output: Contribution to journalConference paper


This paper examines the monolingual acquisition of the English polarity-sensitive item 'any', and uses evidence from child language acquisition to shed light on two questions that arise from the theoretical semantics literature. First, evidence from child spontaneous speech production is used to argue that children are grammatically conservative in their acquisition of negative polarity item (NPI) licensing. The same child data are then used to argue the following: (i) there is only one NPI 'any', subject to a disjunctive licensing condition; (ii) NPI 'any' differs in some way from free choice (FC) 'any', resulting in the later emergence of FC 'any'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-37
Number of pages19
JournalProceedings of SALT
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes
EventSemantics and Linguistic Theory Conference (20th : 2010) - Vancouver, British Columbia
Duration: 29 Apr 20101 May 2010


  • Negative polarity
  • Polarity-sensitive items
  • NPI licensing
  • Free choice
  • Acquisition


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