On the processing of alternatives, exhaustification and covert negation: the case of "mai"

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    Abstract

    In this paper, we focus on the linguistic behavior and on-line processing of the Italian word mai.1 We are interested in mai as it exhibits typical properties of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) on the one hand and of Negative-words (N-words) on the other. mai exhibits sensitivity to the entailment patterns associated with the sentence in which it occurs, a feature that characterizes NPIs in general. Moreover, mai gives rise to different meanings depending on its position with respect to the verb, a characteristic of N-words. In this paper, we propose an alternative-based analysis of mai as an NPI with the additional capacity of introducing a covert negation in certain environments in pre-verbal position. The main goal of this project is to investigate, through the case study of mai, the on-line processing of the theoretical mechanisms that we argue are involved in its semantics, such as alternatives, exhaustification and insertion of covert negation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationAlternatives in semantics
    EditorsAnamaria Falaus
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
    Pages209-237
    ISBN (Print)978-1-137-31724-7
    Publication statusAccepted/In press - 5 May 2011

    Keywords

    • alternatives
    • semantics
    • pragmatics

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  • Cite this

    Romoli, J. (Accepted/In press). On the processing of alternatives, exhaustification and covert negation: the case of "mai". In A. Falaus (Ed.), Alternatives in semantics (pp. 209-237). Palgrave Macmillan.