Greek non-negative min, epistemic modality, and positive bias

Evripidis Tsiakmakis , Joan Manel Borras Comes, M.Teresa Espinal

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Modern Greek displays two variants of the word min; one corresponds to a negative marker, and the other corresponds to an epistemic modal. We focus on the latter and provide, for the first time to our knowledge, experimental evidence on its exact interpretation, showing that (i) non-negative min is incompatible with the overt realization of polar propositional alternatives {p,¬p}, (ii) it conveys medium speaker certainty with respect to the expressed proposition p, and (iii) it encodes speaker bias in favor of p. Our findings support the novel generalization that non-negative min is uniformly interpreted as conveying that the speaker is neither unbiased nor negatively biased (as suggested by the previous literature on the topic), but positively biased with respect to a proposition p. We argue that non-negative min is a biased epistemic modal that needs to be licensed by an external non-veridical operator.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages29
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 29 Dec 2022


  • Modern Greek
  • epistemic modality
  • experimental approach
  • min
  • positive bias


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