UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 13 (2001)

On the nature of French N-words



The view defended in this paper is that French N-words are inherently negative. We argue that French N-words are not simple (i.e. Negative Polarity Items/pure variables), but negative indefinites: complex XPs consisting of a phonologically null negative operator and an indefinite expression. French negative statements with N-words are instances of scope marking chains in which the null operator is a sub-extracted adjunct. The latter moves to the specifier of a Neg phrase so that negation can take scope over the relevant predicate while the indefinite expression is stranded.

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