Chapter published in:The Grammatical Realization of Polarity Contrast: Theoretical, empirical, and typological approaches
Edited by Christine Dimroth and Stefan Sudhoff
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 249] 2018
► pp. 9–53
From polarity focus to salient polarity
From things to processes
The paper provides arguments against the denotational approach to polarity focus (also known as Verum), which treats it as a distinct denotation contributed by the dedicated grammatical structures. It shows that the purported category of polarity focus is routinely defined on the basis of faulty analytical procedures, reification of inferential interpretations and suppression of variation. As a result, this approach cannot account for the full range of usages of those grammatical structures that are standardly assumed to instantiate polarity focus. As an alternative to the denotational accounts, the paper proposes an interpretational approach that disposes of the idea of a discrete denotation defining a linguistic category. To emphasize the difference between these two understandings of linguistic meaning, the term salient polarity is introduced. Salient polarity is understood as an interpretive effect stemming from the speaker’s intention to draw the hearer’s attention to the truth value of the proposition. This interpretive effect comes about through different inferential mechanisms and for various communicative reasons, and can be derived from completely unrelated denotations. Thus, salient polarity is not a traditional linguistic category if the latter is defined based on the correspondence between a linguistic form and a denotation, but is rather to be conceived of as a fuzzy set of family resemblances unified by shared communicative intentions.
Keywords: polarity, salience, focus, inference, crosslinguistic categories
Published online: 30 November 2018
Abraham, Werner & Conradi, C. Jac
Ackerman, Farrell & Nikolaeva, Irina
Birner, Betty & Ward, Gregory
Danckaert, Lieven & Haegeman, Liliane
2012 Conditional clauses, main clause phenomena and the syntax of polarity emphasis. In Comparative Germanic Syntax: The State of the Art [Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 191], Peter Ackema, Rhona Alcorn, Caroline Heycock, Dany Jaspers, Jeroen van Craenenbroeck & Guido Vanden Wyngaerd (eds), 133–168. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Dik, Simon C., Hoffmann, Maria E., de Jong, Jan R., Dijang, Sie Ing, Stroomer, Harry J. & de Vries, Lourens
Dimroth, Christine, Andorno, Cecilia, Benazzo, Sandra & Verhagen, Josie
Egg, Markus & Zimmermann, Malte
Evans, Nicholas & Levinson, Stephen
Friedman, Victor A.
Goldberg, Adele E.
Goldberg, Adele E. & Ackerman, Farrell
Güldemann, Tom & Fiedler, Ines
2013 Verb fronting in Bantu in typological perspective. Paper presented at the Workshop on Information Structure in Bantu Languages, Humboldt University Berlin. https://www2.hu-berlin.de/predicate_focus_africa/data/2013-12-10_G%C3%BCldemann_Fiedler.Bantu.focus.fronting.pdf (5 November 2016).
Gutzmann, Daniel & Castroviejo Miró, Elena
Halliday, Michael A. K.
Höhle, Tilman N.
Hyman, Larry & Watters, John R.
Klima, Eduard S.
2009 On the variability of focus meanings. In Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Linguists, Seoul 2008. Seoul: Linguistic Society of Korea.
Matić, Dejan & Nikolaeva, Irina
2008 Predicate focus and the particle mə(r)= in Tundra Yukaghir. Paper presented at Predicate Focus Workshop, University of Potsdam.
Matić, Dejan & Wedgwood, Daniel
Merin, Arthur & Nikolaeva, Irina
2008 Exclamative as a universal speech act category: A case study in decision-theoretic semantics and typological implications. Ms. http://semanticsarchive.net/Archive/jUwMmYxY/eusac-sspa4.pdf (20 November 2016).
Nevins, Andrew, Pesetsky, David & Rodrigues, Carlos
Newmeyer, Frederick J.
2007 Beyond the CG: The semantics and pragmatics of epistemic modals. Paper presented at: International Congress of Linguists, Seoul. http://faculty.georgetown.edu/portnerp/my_papers/Portner_LSK2007_modals.pdf (29 October 2016).
Rett, Jessica & Murray, Sarah E.
2013 A semantic account of mirative evidentials. Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT) 23: 453–472.
Romero, Maribel & Han, Chung-hye
2015 Polarity-driven inversion in British English and beyond. Ms. http://www.craigsailor.net/papers/FI_draft_Feb-2015.pdf (31 October 2016).
2015 The emphatic interpretation of English VP preposing. Paper presented at: The 89th Annual Meeting of the LSA. https://sites.google.com/site/bsamko/handouts (15 October 2016).
2016 Verum focus in alternative semantics. Paper presented at: The 90th Annual Meeting of the LSA. https://sites.google.com/site/bsamko/handouts (15 October 2016).
Turco, Giuseppina, Braun, Bettina & Dimroth, Christine
Turco, Giuseppina, Dimroth, Christine & Braun, Bettina
Watters, John R.
Zimmermann, Malte & Hole, Daniel
2008 Predicate focus, verum focus, verb focus: Similarities and differences. Paper presented at: Predicate Focus Workshop, University of Potsdam.
Cited by 1 other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 08 may 2021. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.