French ne … que exceptives in prepositional contexts

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A common assumption in the literature is that French (ne) … que exceptives cannot appear inside a prepositional phrase. In this chapter we examine in some detail three contexts that counterexemplify this generalization. We show that in all cases, the data are consistent with the relatively recent hypothesis that (ne) … que exceptives contain a silent n-word (O’Neill 2011; Homer 2015; Authier & Reed 2019; Authier 2020). We also demonstrate that whenever an exceptive appears within a prepositional phrase, it is unable to take sentential scope. We provide three pieces of evidence that support this conclusion. First, PP-internal exceptives go hand in hand with the obligatory absence of the (optional) sentential negative scope marker ne. Second, PP-internal exceptives, unlike their PP-external counterparts, are unable to scope over modals in the clause in which they appear. Third, PP-internal exceptives, unlike their PP-external counterparts, do not license negative concord readings when they co-occur with a clause-mate n-word. These properties reveal the existence of a novel constraint that is not easily subsumed under existing theories of scope. That is, it seems that the combination of an exceptive’s quantificational component (i.e., its n-word) with its association with focus property is such that any PP that contains it acts as a scope island.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationPoints of Convergence in Romance Linguistics Papers selected from the 48th Linguistic Symposium on Romance Languages (LSRL 48), Toronto, 25-28 April 2018
EditorsGabriela Alboiu
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Company
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9789027257970
StatePublished - 2022

Publication series

NameCurrent Issues in Linguistic Theory
ISSN (Print)0304-0763

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


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