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Linguistic Inquiry

Spring 2004, Vol. 35, No. 2, Pages 179-217
(doi: 10.1162/002438904323019048)
© 2004 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Disjunction, Focus, and Scope
Article PDF (474.89 KB)

This article presents the observation that disjunction cannot take wide scope in negative non-wh-questions and declaratives with a preposed negative element. This rules out the alternative question reading for non-wh-questions with preposed negation and the wide scope or reading for neg-inverted declaratives. We show that effects parallel to the ones associated with preposed negation can be reproduced in affirmative non-wh-questions and declaratives when focus is involved. We propose that preposed negation in non-wh-questions and preposed negative adverbials in declaratives necessarily contribute focus marking (in particular, verum focus) and argue that the lack of wide scope disjunction reading in both declaratives and non-wh-questions results as a by-product of the interaction between focus and the LF syntax of disjunctive structures, which we argue involves ellipsis.