Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 289–333 | Cite as

The Negative Concord Puzzle Revisited

  • Elena Herburger


This paper investigates Negative Concord, arguing that it results from a systematic lexical ambiguity: the items that participate in Negative Concord ("n-words" in Laka's 1990 terminology) are ambiguous between negative polarity items and their genuinely negative counterparts. I try to show that on empirical grounds the proposed account compares favorably with other analyses that shy away from ambiguity. I furthermore suggest that the ambiguity is not implausible conceptually because it can be viewed as reflecting an intermediate stage of the Jespersen Cycle. Negative Concord can be observed in many languages. The data discussed here are taken from Romance, primarily Spanish.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elena Herburger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Spanish and PortugueseGeorgetown UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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