Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 109–148 | Cite as

Licensing strong NPIs

  • Jon R. GajewskiEmail author


This paper proposes that both weak and strong NPIs in English are sensitive to the downward entailingness of their licensers. It is also proposed, however, that these two types of NPIs pay attention to different aspects of the meaning of their environment. As observed by von Fintel and Chierchia, weak NPIs do not attend to the scalar implicatures of presuppositions of their licensers. Strong NPIs see both the truth-conditional and non-truth-conditional (scalar implications, presuppositions) meaning of their licensers. This theory accounts for the puzzling inability, noted by Rullmann and Gajewski, of Strawson anti-additive operators to license strong NPIs, as well as for the effects of Zwarts’s hierarchy of negative strength. Additional issues concerning comparative quantifiers, few, and proportional quantifiers are addressed.


Negative polarity items Negation Negative strength Downward entailing Anti-additive Scalar implicature Presupposition 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of ConnecticutStorrsUSA

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