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I have some doubts if there is downward entailing environment with "remember":

a. Mary forgot that she saw anyone. b. Mary forgot that anyone saw her. c. #Mary remembered that she saw anyone. d. #May remembered that anyone saw her.

We see that forget licenses the NPI anyone, in a test I realized that forget is downward entailing

(NP: Mary forgot that French students saw her -> Mary forgot that tall French students saw her // VP: Mary forgot that she saw French students -> Mary forgot that she saw tall French students)

Now, I have the case that remember behaves as follows:

NP: Mary remembers that her parents had Italian Food -> Mary remembers that her mother had Italian Food. (downward entailing) VP: Mary remembers that she had Italian Food - Mary remembers that she had Pizza (Not downward entailing)

Remember thus creates a downward entailing environment (in my opinion) yet this contradicts the hypothesis that this kind of word licenses NPIs (negative polarity items). But as we see above, the phrases with remember + anyone are ungrammatical.

What do you think? Is the hypothesis or my assumption wrong then?

Thank you a lot! Best, Paul

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  • Downward entailment does not provide a foolproof indication that the construction is negative. This is shown by the expression "at most": "At most 25% of Australians own an animal" entails "At most 25%of Australians own a horse, and so on, and yet these clauses are positive. – BillJ Feb 10 '18 at 20:21
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Yes, "remember" is downward entailing. "Forget" licenses the negative polarity item "anyone" because "forget" is negative, not because it is or is not downward entailing. If you forget about something, you do not remember it.

(I think the usual term for what you call "downward entailing" is "factive".)

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  • In much NPI literature at the end of the last century, it was argued that the negative environment is not as important as the environment being downward entailing. Negative environments usualy are downward entailing, positive ones upwards: I saw an elephant-->I saw an animal but I didn't see an animal-->I didn't see an elephant. The DE idea has been superceded by the proposal that NPI licensing environments are non-veridical. – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 19 '19 at 17:06
  • So, I'm not absolutely sure, but I think factive environments are largely upwards entailing, not downwards? – Araucaria - Not here any more. Oct 19 '19 at 17:22
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NP: Mary remembers that her parents had Italian Food -> Mary remembers that her mother had Italian Food. (downward entailing) VP: Mary remembers that she had Italian Food - Mary remembers that she had Pizza (Not downward entailing)

Your tests for downward entailing can't both be correct. "Her parents had Italian food" implies that her mother had Italian food. However, the implication in your other example goes the other way: "Mary had pizza" implies that Mary had Italian food, not the other way around.

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