Quelqu'un n'est pas venu


Received wisdom has it that positive polarity items such as someone are incompatible with negation (?*Someone didn't come). Yet negative contexts are attested with such items not only in their specific indefinite reading (e.g. There's someone who didn't come), but also in their non-specific reading (It isn't the case that someone came). It is the non-specific reading of indefinite quelqu'un as subject of a negative verb phrase which is analysed by the present paper. On the basis of a corpus of attested cases, it demonstrates that polemic contrast is the crucial condition of the considered interpretation. As quelqu'un is included within a presupposed proposition that is rejected as a whole by negation, negative contexts can accommodate an item which does not normally yield the interpretations negation does. Interpretation is thus presented as process of mutual adjustment between contextual readings allowed for by items, readings which can be modalised by discursive values.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0959269505002164
Divisions: Languages & Social Sciences > French
Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for Language Research at Aston (CLaRA)
Languages & Social Sciences
Languages & Social Sciences > Aston Centre for Europe
Additional Information: Copyright of Cambridge University Press
Uncontrolled Keywords: received wisdom,negative contexts,non-specific reading,negative verb phrase,polemic contrast,interpretation
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Related URLs: http://journals ... Journal?jid=JFL (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2005
Authors: Larrivée, Pierre



Version: Published Version

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