Polarity Items in Basque. Experimental evidence for their existential reading

Urtzi Etxeberria, Susagna Tubau, Joan Borràs-Comes, M.Teresa Espinal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper presents the results of an experimental investigation that looks into the acceptability and interpretation judgements that Basque native speakers give to sentences with multiple i-/bat ere indefinites in declarative sentences. It is argued that Basque i-/bat ere indefinites are Polarity Items (PIs) rather than Negative Concord Items (NCIs), as they are consistently associated with an existential reading in unacceptable declarative sentences without an overt negative licensor. That is, Basque i-/bat ere indefinites never give rise to a negative interpretation in the absence of an overt negative marker. It is also argued that Basque PIs differ from NCIs in Strict Negative Concord languages such as Greek in relevant ways, thus reinforcing the conclusion that Basque is not a NC language. This study contributes to a better understanding of the conditions that an indefinite expression must meet to be classified as a PI or as an NCI.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2021


  • Acceptability judgement task
  • Basque
  • Existential reading
  • Negative concord items
  • Picture selection task
  • Polarity items


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