High Negation and Ellipsis in English No-answers

Anissa Zaitsu
Stanford University
Fri October 15th 2021, 1:30 - 3:00pm
Hybrid (Greenberg and Online)

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This talk presents novel evidence that negative answers to polar questions---using the sentence particle No---involve genuine ellipsis. The literature is split in its approach to No-answers, taking them to be the remnants of a TP-ellipsis procedure (Kramer & Rawlins 2009, Holmberg 2016), or construing them in terms of a propositional anaphor (Krifka 2013), or analyzing them as the realization of a feature set that imposes conditions on the context and structure in which they appear (Roelofsen & Farkas 2015). The evidence in favor of ellipsis comes from the apparently anomalous behavior of Positive Polarity Items (PPIs) found in both Neg-Raising (NR) contexts and No-answers. It is argued that ellipsis approaches are best positioned to capture this shared behavior of PPIs across both kinds of contexts as a unified phenomenon because they hold that No-answers are associated with i) a high syntactic position for a semantically contentful negation and ii) syntactic and semantic structure (Merchant 2001).