Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 279–321 | Cite as

Licensing of PPI indefinites: Movement or pseudoscope?

  • Vincent HomerEmail author
  • Rajesh Bhatt


Positive Polarity indefinites (PPI indefinites), such as some in English, are licensed in simplex negative sentences as long as they take wide scope over negation. When it surfaces under a clausemate negation, some can in principle take wide scope either by movement or by some semantic mechanism; e.g., it can take pseudoscope if it is interpreted as a choice function variable. Therefore, there is some uncertainty regarding the way in which PPI indefinites get licensed: can pseudoscope suffice? In this article we show, using novel data from Hindi-Urdu and English, that pseudoscope is not sufficient, and that it is the syntactic position of PPI indefinites at LF, rather than their actual scope, which is relevant for licensing. These facts support a unified view of PPI indefinites as generalized quantifiers, and disfavor analyses where they are, or can be, interpreted as choice function variables.


Positive polarity Hindi-Urdu Indefinites Choice functions Pseudoscope Exhaustification 


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This article has benefitted from feedback from audiences at UMass, FASAL 5 at Yale, the session on ‘Varieties of Positive Polarity Items’ at the 2015 DGfS in Leipzig, TbiLLC 2015, NELS 46 at Concordia University, SinFonIJA 9 in Brno, the 2017 GLOW in Asia at the National University of Singapore, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Ottawa, and MIT. We have specially benefitted from feedback by Ana Arregui, Simon Charlow, Veneeta Dayal, Ashwini Deo, Irene Heim, Caroline Heycock, Kyle Johnson, Stefan Keine, Dennis Ott, Ezer Rasin, and Roger Schwarzschild. Our thanks also go to the NALS anonymous reviewers and to our editor, Angelika Kratzer.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.UMass-Amherst Linguistics DepartmentUMass-AmherstAmherstUSA
  2. 2.CNRS-Jean NicodParisFrance

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