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Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi

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Abstract

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.

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Lahiri, U. Focus and Negative Polarity in Hindi. Natural Language Semantics 6, 57–123 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1008211808250

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