Compositionality and Complexity in Multiple Negation

Logic Journal of the IGPL 3 (2-3):449-471 (1995)
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Abstract

This paper considers negative triggers and the interpretation of simple sentences containing more than one occurrence of those items . In the most typical interpretations those sentences have more negative expressions than negations in their semantic representation. It is first shown that this compositionality problem remains in current approaches. A principled algorithm for deriving the representation of sentences with multiple negative quantifiers in a DRT framework is then introduced. The algorithm is under the control of an on-line check-in, keeping the complexity of negation auto-embedding below a threshold of complexity. This mechanism is seen as a competence limitation imposing the ‘abrogation of compositionality’ observed in the so-called negative concord readings . A solution to the compositionality problem is thus proposed, which is based on a control on the processing input motivated by a limitation of the processing mechanism itself

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