Goodhue (2018) – Polarity focus as focus

Polarity focus as focus
Daniel Goodhue
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September 2018
In this paper, I argue that polarity focus (sometimes also called verum focus) is a focus phenomenon that can and should be accounted for under a general theory of focus marking such as that developed by Rooth (1985, 1992); Kratzer (1991). There are two challenges to overcome in order to defend this view. One is that polarity focus, unlike other focus effects, seems to be optional in some cases. The other is that polarity focus often seems to emphasize the truth of the proposition it appears with. I review earlier accounts of polarity focus as focus (Richter, 1993; Wilder, 2013; Samko, 2016a), and demonstrate issues they face. In particular, I show that the theory in Schwarzschild 1999 faces serious challenges when extended to cover polarity focus by Wilder (2013). I also review accounts that claim that the general theory of focus has no role to play in explaining the phenomenon, and that rely instead on a special VERUM operator (Romero & Han, 2004; Gutzmann & Castroviejo Miró, 2011; Gutzmann et al., submitted). I demonstrate challenges for this view, and argue for a more parsimonious account that relies on the general theory of focus and other independently motivated pragmatic principles that together explain the idiosyncrasies of polarity focus.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/004205
(please use that when you cite this article)
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keywords: focus, polarity, presupposition, verum, semantics, phonology