Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-558cb97cc8-sbl5v Total loading time: 0.944 Render date: 2022-10-06T14:20:32.396Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "displayNetworkTab": true, "displayNetworkMapGraph": true, "useSa": true } hasContentIssue true

Negative polarity items in Ewe

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 May 2017

New York University
New York University
Aston University
Author’s address: Department of Linguistics, New York University, 10 Washington Place, 10003 New York,
Author’s address:
Author’s address: School of Languages and Social Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham B4 7ET,


Collins & Postal (2014) argue that English NPIs have two distinct syntactic structures: a unary NEG structure and a binary NEG structure. They suggest that this distinction is generally valid for natural languages. This formal difference was taken to reconstruct the common distinction in NPI studies between strong and weak NPIs. The present analysis of Ewe NPIs seeks to provide cross-linguistic support for this dual conception of NPIs by showing that the ke-NPIs in this language are all properly analyzed exclusively as unary NEG structures.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)



We thank the editor and the three Journal of Linguistics referees of this paper for their feedback. Abbreviations in the glosses follow the Leipzig Glossing Rules.


Aboh, Enoch. 2010. C-type negation markers on the right edge. In Aboh, Enoch O. & Essegbey, James (eds.), Topics in Kwa syntax, 109139. Amsterdam: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Agbedor, Paul. 1994. Negation in Ewe. Working Papers of the Linguistic Circle 12, 5573. Victoria, BC: University of Victoria.Google Scholar
Akafia, Seth Y. 1970. Ku le Xɔme. Accra: Bureau of Ghana Languages.Google Scholar
Ameka, Felix. 1991. Ewe: Its grammatical constructions and illocutionary devices. Ph.D. dissertation, Australian National University.Google Scholar
Beghelli, Filippo & Stowell, Tim. 1997. Distributivity and negation: The syntax of each and every . In Szabolcsi, Anna (ed.), Ways of taking scope, 71107. Dordrecht: Kluwer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bell, Arthur. 2004. Bipartite negation and the fine structure of the Negative Phrase. Ph.D. dissertation, Cornell University.Google Scholar
Bernini, Giuliano & Ramat, Paolo. 1996. Negative sentences in the languages of Europe: A typological approach. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blanchette, Frances. 2015. English negative concord, negative polarity, and double negation. Ph.D. dissertation, City University of New York Graduate Center.Google Scholar
Collins, Chris & Postal, Paul M.. 2014. Classical NEG raising. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Collins, Chris & Postal, Paul M.. 2017. NEG raising and Serbo-Croatian NPIs. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 62.3. [doi:, published online 26 January 2017]CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Davidson, Donald. 1967. The logical form of action sentences. In Rescher, Nicholas (ed.), The logic of decision and action, 8195. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.Google Scholar
De Swart, Henriëtte & Sag, Ivan A.. 2002. Negation and negative concord in Romance. Linguistics and Philosophy 25, 373417.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giannakidou, Anastasia. 1998. Polarity sensitivity as (non)veridical dependency. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giannakidou, Anastasia. 2000. Negative …concord? Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 18, 457523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giannakidou, Anastasia. 2006. $N$ -words and negative concord. In Everaert, Martin & van Riemsdijk, Henk (eds.), The Blackwell companion to syntax, vol. III, 327391. Oxford: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Giannakidou, Anastasia. 2011. Positive polarity items and negative polarity items: Variation, licensing, and compositionality. In Maienborn et al. (eds.), 16601712.Google Scholar
Haegeman, Liliane. 1995. The syntax of negation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haegeman, Liliane. 1997. The syntax of n-words and the Neg Criterion. In Forget, Danielle, Hirschbühler, Paul, Martineau, France & Luisa Rivero, María (eds.), Negation and polarity: Syntax and semantics, 115137. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haegeman, Liliane & Zanuttini, Raffaella. 1991. Negative heads and the Neg Criterion. The Linguistic Review 8, 233251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Haegeman, Liliane & Zanuttini, Raffaella. 1996. Negative concord in West Flemish. In Belletti, Adriana & Rizzi, Luigi (eds.), Parameters and functional heads, 117179. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Haspelmath, Martin. 2000. Indefinite pronouns. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Horn, Laurence R. 2016. Licensing NPIs: Some negative (and positive) results. In Larrivée, Pierre & Lee, Chungman (eds.), Negation and polarity: Experimental perspectives, 281305. Berlin: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kayne, Richard S. 1994. The antisymmetry of syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
Ladusaw, William A.1979. Polarity sensitivity as inherent scope relations. Ph.D. dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin. [Published 1980, New York, Garland Press]Google Scholar
Ladusaw, William A. 1992. Expressing negation. In Barker, Chris & Dowty, David (eds.), Second Conference on Semantics and Linguistic Theory (SALT II) (Working Papers in Linguistics 40), 237259. Columbus, OH: The Ohio State University, Department of Linguistics.Google Scholar
Ladusaw, William A. 1996. Negation and polarity items. In Lappin, Shalom (ed.), The handbook of contemporary semantic theory, 321341. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
Linebarger, Marcia. 1980. The grammar of negative polarity. Ph.D. dissertation, MIT.Google Scholar
Linebarger, Marcia. 1987. Negative polarity and grammatical representation. Linguistics and Philosophy 10, 325387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Maienborn, Claudia. 2011. Event semantics. In Maienborn et al. (eds.), 802829.Google Scholar
Maienborn, Claudia, von Heusinger, Klaus & Portner, Paul (eds.). 2011. Semantics: An international handbook of natural language meaning. Berlin: De Gruyter.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
May, Robert. 1985. Logical form: Its structure and derivation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
May, Robert. 1989. Interpreting logical form. Linguistics and Philosophy 12, 387435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Merchant, Jason. 2001. The syntax of silence. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Merchant, Jason. 2004. Fragments and ellipsis. Linguistics and Philosophy 27, 661738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Postal, Paul M. 2004. Skeptical linguistic essays. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Progovac, Ljiljana. 1994. Negative and positive polarity: A Binding approach. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rongier, Jacques. 1988. Apprenons L’Ewe: Miasr~ɔ Eʋegbe, vol. 1. Paris: Éditions L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
Rongier, Jacques. 1989. Apprenons L’Ewe: Miasr~ɔ Eʋegbe, vol. 2. Paris: Éditions L’Harmattan.Google Scholar
Ross, John Robert. 1969. Guess who?In Binnick, Robert I., Davison, Alice, Green, Georgia M. & Morgan, Jerry M. (eds.), Papers from the Fifth Regional Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society (CLS 5), 252278. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago, Chicago Linguistic Society.Google Scholar
Watanabe, Akira. 2004. The genesis of negative concord: Syntax and morphology of negative doubling. Linguistic Inquiry 35, 559612.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Westermann, Diedrich. 1930. A study of the Ewe language. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Zanuttini, Raffaella. 1997. Negation and clausal structure: A comparative study of Romance languages. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Zeijlstra, Hedde. 2004. Sentential negation and negative concord. Utrecht: Lot.Google Scholar
Zeijlstra, Hedde. 2007. Negation in natural language: On the form and meaning of negative elements. Language and Linguistics Compass 1, 498518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zwarts, Frans. 1998. Three types of polarity. In Hamm, Fritz & Hinrichs, Erhard (eds.), Plurality and quantification. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
Zwarts, Frans. 1999. Polarity items. In Brown, Keith & Miller, Jim (eds.), Concise encyclopedia of grammatical categories, 295300. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
Cited by

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Negative polarity items in Ewe
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Negative polarity items in Ewe
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Negative polarity items in Ewe
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *