Interpreting argumental n-words as answers to negative wh-questions

M.Teresa Espinal*, Susagna Tubau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


© 2015 Elsevier B.V. This paper aims to provide an explanation of the lexical characterisation and final semantic interpretation associated with isolated argumental n-words in Question-Answer pairs in Negative Concord languages, namely Catalan and Spanish. We argue that there are two competing lexical variants of n-words in these languages: a polarity variant and a negative existential quantifier variant. Accessibility to these two lexical characterizations of n-words is correlated with one of the two possible final interpretations of isolated argumental n-words when used as fragment answers to negative wh-questions. Following a Structured Meaning approach to the semantics of Question-Answer pairs, we present a new analysis of n-words as focus constituents with respect to background wh-questions according to which a final single negation reading can only be inferred from n-words conceived as indefinite polarity items, whereas a Double Negation reading is inferred from negative quantifiers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-59
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016


  • Argumental n-words
  • Catalan
  • Indefinite negative quantifiers
  • Indefinite polarity items
  • Question–Answer pairs
  • Spanish


Dive into the research topics of 'Interpreting argumental n-words as answers to negative wh-questions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this