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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Negative Polarity

Scissors Grinder, by Karl Malevich
(I could not find a picture of a Tinker)

Negative Polarity Items on All Things Linguistic:

NPI stands for Negative Polarity Item, and they’re called that because they tend to be found in the scope of negation and serve to emphasize that negation. Classic examples are any, everand even, which sound great in negative sentences like (1-4) but pretty weird in the positive equivalents in (5-8).*
(1) I don’t love anyone.
(2) We are never, ever, getting back together.
(3) I don’t even know myself.
(4) I don’t want to go to sleep either.
(5) *I love anyone.
(6) *We are ever getting back together.
(7) *I even know myself.
(8) *I want to go to sleep either...
 I came up with "a tinker's dam"  (or "damn", if you must)  as in "I don't give a tinker's dam" versus "I do give a tinker's dam." Obviously a negative polarity item.


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