Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Negative Sensitive Items: Conditions, constraints, and consequences
by Hwang, Ju Hyeon, Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008, 263; 3347574
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation examines of the syntax and semantics of Negative Sensitive Items (NSIs) in Korean, especially in comparison with Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) in English. I focus primarily on the parametric differences in the licensing conditions and constraints on NSIs in Korean and English, exploring how these parameters shed light on fundamental differences between the two languages related to issues concerning NSIs. I further take up a discussion of how the proposed licensing conditions and constraints in Korean can provide a new perspective on theoretical issues that have previously analyzed within a category of ordinary NPIs.

A close examination of the distributional properties of Korean NSIs, reveals a major difference in licensing of Korean NSIs and English NPIs. In contrast to English NPIs, which are licensed within the scope of a licenser, Korean NSIs appear to be never licensed within the scope of negation, but in fact outside the scope of negation. The environment which licenses Korean NSIs which outscope negation has often been analyzed as exhibiting the so-called ‘clause-mate condition.’ Although the clause-mate condition correctly captures the structural condition on the licensing of Korean NSIs at some level, the traditional clause-mate condition does not satisfactorily explain the discrepancy between the syntactic licensing and the semantic interpretation of Korean NSIs, and the strict locality between an NSI and negation. This dissertation proposes that Korean NSIs are syntactically licensed by the percolation of the [+NEG] feature within an extended minimal domain of the extended projection of the head with [+NEG] at S-structure.

The licensing condition of Korean NSIs proposed here prompts the question of whether Korean NSIs can still be categorized as traditional NPIs like the NPIs of English. Evidenced by the fact that Korean NSIs are only licensed by overtly negative predicates, and that Korean NSIs are construed as universals outscoping negation, I argue that Korean NSIs are better viewed as Negative Concord Items (NCIs), thus agreeing with the line of reasoning which claims that NCIs cannot be subsumed under the category of traditional NPIs. The idea of identifying of Korean NSIs as NCIs provides an opportunity to develop and refine the licensing condition based on the notion of extended minimal domain of the extended projection of the head with [+NEG] in terms of Agree/Probe-Goal relation. Specifically, I claim that the universal NSIs-cum-NCIs is a Probe seeking a Goal which is negation, and the syntactic licensing condition of Korean NSIs is better modeled as a general condition of Agree/Probe-Goal relation established between an NSI and negation.

This dissertation further investigates another licensing condition of Korean NSIs which is encoded as the Intervention Constraint (IC) in the lines of Linebarger (1987). The IC has been traditionally construed as a LF constraint based on the scope interaction between negation and NSIs. I, however, claim that the IC also needs to be understood as a constraint holding at S-structure on a par with the syntactic licensing condition of NSIs proposed herein. Accordingly, all the licensing conditions of Korean NSI turn out to converge into syntactic ones holding at S-structure, whereas the conditions of English NPI licensing target both LF and S-structure. I further show that the IC in Korean can be understood as a general restriction on the Agree/Probe-Goal relation stating that the Probe-Goal relationship established between an NSI and negation cannot be interrupted by another Probe-Goal relationship.

This dissertation offers an analysis of intervention effects and multiple NSI constructions as an instance of a violation of the IC. I first examine intervention effects which have been analyzed as the interruption of a wh-dependency in which an NSI prevents a wh-in-situ from being interpreted by its Q-operator. Given that there is a parallel between intervention effects and the configuration ruled out by the IC, I propose that intervention effects are better understood as a violation of the IC, where the Probe-Goal relation established between an NSI and its licenser is interrupted by the one established between a wh-in-situ and its Q-operator. This proposal expects to offer a positive answer to the question of why it is difficult to draw a uniform grammaticality judgment on intervention effects involving other prima facie problematic interveners other than NSIs. I next move on to multiple NSI constructions in which multiple occurrences of NSIs express a single negative preposition. Given the fact that multiple NSIs cannot freely occur depending on a position of where pakkey type NSIs occur, I propose that multiple occurrences of NSIs are also constrained by the IC in which pakkey NSIs, which is construed as a focused element, serves as an intervener for the licensing of other types of NSIs. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Yoon, Hye Suk James, Lasersohn, Peter Nathan
School: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
School Location: United States -- Illinois
Source: DAI-A 70/02, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics
Keywords: Comparative studies, English, Korean, Korean/English, Licensing conditions, Licensing constraints, Negative sensitive items
Publication Number: 3347574
ISBN: 978-1-109-02792-1
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