April 30, 2006

Not So Fast, Louis

In the previous post I gave a sentence in which an NPI was licensed by an embedded question, or so I suggested. But (as I said in comments) not every embedded question seems to license NPIs. Take:

(1) I know who's been to France.

The embedded question "who's been to France" doesn't seem to license NPIs:

(1a) ?I know who's been to France at all.

So if the NPI is licensed by the embedded question in my previous example,

(2) What requires explanation is why anyone at all has strong Gettier intuitions

(and I don't see what else would, although that could be my problem), then an account of NPIs needs an account of why some embedded questions license them and others don't.

[I just started to type out an explanation of which of (1) and (2) are downward- and upward-entailing, confused myself utterly about which entailments hold between "What requires explanation is why philosophers have strong Gettier intuitions" and "What requires explanation is why epistemologists have strong Gettier intuitions," and deleted the whole thing. Anyone who has any suggestions, please let me know. This may cast doubt on my claim in the previous post that with indicative sentences like (1) and (2) we may be able to make more sense of upward and downward entailment than with questions, though I think it just casts doubt on the claim that I may be able to make sense of anything.]

Posted by Matt Weiner at April 30, 2006 11:08 PM

Check out the draft paper by Elena Guerzoni and Yael Sharvit on NPIs in questions: http://web.uconn.edu/sharvit/guerzoni-sharvit-jan05.pdf. And a while back there was Chung-hye Han and Laura Siegel: http://www.sfu.ca/~chunghye/papers/wccfl15mac.pdf.

Posted by: Kai von Fintel at May 1, 2006 07:26 AM

Thanks Kai!

Posted by: Matt Weiner at May 1, 2006 08:22 AM