Natural Language Semantics

, Volume 14, Issue 4, pp 359–398 | Cite as

Intervention effects on NPIs and feature movement: towards a unified account of intervention

  • Elena Guerzoni


In this paper, I explore the possibility of understanding locality restrictions on the distribution of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) as a consequence of covert movement. The present proposal restates Linebarger’s Immediate Scope Constraint in terms of morphology-driven checking requirements. These requirements cannot be met if a blocking element intervenes between the NPI feature and its morphosemantic licenser at Logical Form (LF). The empirical generalization is that the class of NPI ‘blocking expressions’ (a.k.a. ‘interveners’) overlaps to a large extent with interveners identified in wh-questions. Therefore, the same grammatical checking mechanisms operating in that domain, rather than the presence of an implicature, are here shown to be responsible both for apparent violations to Linebarger’s constraint (contra Linebarger) and for intervention effects (contra Krifka, 1995, and Chierchia, 2004). This approach is argued to be superior on empirical grounds as it predicts facts that are left unaccounted for in a theory like Linebarger’s, where pragmatics rescues otherwise ill-formed structures. In addition, the proposal allows us to view the locality constraints operating in the domain of NPI-licensing as an instance of more general (though yet to be fully understood) principles of the grammar whose effects are attested in other domains, such as wh-questions in German, Discourselinked (D-linked) wh-questions in English, and Negative Concord (NC) configurations (e.g. in Italian and French).


Negative Polarity Items Intervention effects Feature Movement Indefinites Disjunction Interrogatives 


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© Springer Science+Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of LinguisticsUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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