In this paper we investigate two series of Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) in Dharamsala Tibetan: one series uses the numeral ‘one’ with an even particle, with an optional nominal domain. The other series combines a wh-word with the same even particle, and may appear with or without the numeral ‘one.’ We discuss the relation of these NPIs to indefinite expressions in Dharamsala Tibetan, and document their syntactic licensing conditions. We show that NPIs are licensed in the scope of a clause-mate negation and in questions, but not in other downward-entailing environments.
We then present a compositional semantics for these two types of NPIs which explains their negative-polarity dependency, based on Lahiri’s (1998) analysis of similar constructions in Hindi. Our analysis for wh-even NPIs takes advantage of the Hamblin (1973) denotation of wh-words as sets of alternatives and the fact that even introduces two presuppositions—an additive one and a scalar one. Allowing the additive component of even to scope independently of the scalar part, the additive part of even is used to generate an indefinite out of the wh-word. The scalar component will be used to ensure that even-NPIs can only be used in downward entailing contexts.