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Predicative definite NPIs in Norwegian

Publiceringsår: 2011
Språk: Engelska
Sidor: 1-48
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Nordlyd
Volym: 38
Dokumenttyp: Artikel i tidskrift


In Norwegian, a weak quantifier or a scalar adjective with a positive value may combine with a definite noun and thereby form an attenuating NPI. These phrases, which I call predicative definite NPIs, are exceptional as nominal phrases, since they do not accept a prenominal definiteness marker despite their overall definiteness, and they are exceptional as attenuating NPIs, since they are templatic instead of being lexically defined.

The reason why predicative definite NPIs do not accept prenominal definiteness markers is arguably that there is no D head. The absence of a D head makes the phrases defective in their ability to refer. Hence, they are semantically predicative, and in the terms of Giannakidou (1998) they are referentially dependent, which is a property that characterises many NPIs in general. Hence, the lack of a D head causes the phrases to be NPIs, despite their definiteness.

Concerning their licensing properties, when three influential theories of NPI-licensing—Progovac (1994), van der Wouden (1997) and Giannakidou (1998)—are confronted with the NPIs discussed here, it appears that Giannakidou’s model more successfully than the others can capture the licensing of predicative definite NPIs, although some refinement is required even here.


  • Languages and Literature
  • nominal phrase
  • negative polarity item
  • definiteness


  • GRIMM-lup-obsolete
  • ISSN: 0332-7531

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