A dichotomy between logic and natural language is ill-conceived: logic plays a constitutive role in grammar. This can be most clearly appreciated on the basis of various monotonicity-sensitive phenomena in natural language, such as the behavior of negative polarity items. By zooming in on the categorical data involving modal and comparative sentences, we show that a description of this behavior requires making reference to the properties that environments that dominate polarity item have with respect to these items; making reference to specific operators contained in these environments does not suffice. A remarkably similar conclusion is reached also for continuous data emerging in recent monotonicity-related studies: an adequate description requires making reference to environments. We explore how the study of monotonicity-conditioned effects and of their convergence in the categorical and continuous domains can inform each other.

The course is offered at ESSLLI 2023 in Ljubljana by Luka Crnič and Yosef Grodzinsky.

Photos from the event can be found here (largely courtesy of the ESSLLI 23 organizers).


Day 1: basics of monotonicity, operators, and environments

Selected readings:

Days 2 and 3: basics wrapped up, behavioral and fMRI experiments with one downward-monotone operator; monotonicity in free choice

Selected readings:

Days 4 and 5: monotonicity in free choice wrapped up; comparatives; behavioral and fMRI experiments with more than one downward-monotone operator

Selected readings: