Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 57–123 | Cite as

Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi

  • Utpal Lahiri


This paper presents an analysis of negative polarity items (NPIs) in Hindi. It is noted that NPIs in this language are composed of a (weak) indefinite plus a particle bhii meaning ‘even’. It is argued that the compositional semantics of this combination explains their behavior as NPIs as well as their behavior as free choice (FC) items. I assume that weak Hindi indefinites like ek and koi are to be viewed as a predicate that I call one, a predicate that is true of everything that exists. I further assume that bhii exhibits association with focus with the indefinite, and that this leads to contradictory implicatures in positive contexts. The behavior of these phrases in a variety of syntactic contexts is discussed, including constructions like correlatives. Finally, I provide a comparison with analyses of English any, and discuss the relevance of the analysis presented here for that of any.


Free Choice Negative Polarity Polarity Item Compositional Semantic Negative Polarity Item 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Utpal Lahiri
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of California at IrvineIrvineU.S.A.

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