Matteo Greco

Is expletive negation a unitary phenomenon?

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Expletive Negation; Standard Negation; Negative Polarity Items; N-Words; Negative Coordination.

Expletive negation (EN) is commonly considered to be a unitary phenomenon cross-linguistically codified. In this article I provide empirical arguments to show that in fact EN consists of distinct subtypes and propose a twofold partition between weak and strong EN. More specifically, by investigating Italian, I show that weak EN structures maintain some features typically associated to standard negation (for example, they allow weak-NPIs and n-words) whereas strong EN structures do not, forming a natural class within. Moreover, I highlight a previous unnoticed case of Italian EN clauses I dubbed “Surprise Negation (SNEG) Sentencesµ. SNEGs are distinct from any other EN type sentences for their semantic, syntactic and pragmatic features. I will provide tests based on Ethical Dative, Expletive e, discourserelated constructions (like focus and topic phenomena) and mirativity value; moreover, I characterize them on the basis of intonational features showing that they blend interrogative and exclamative acoustic features.

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