Expletive Negation is widespread in human languages. Although many semantic, pragmatic and syntactic hypotheses about it have been advanced, it still remains puzzling. Two questions, particularly, need to be faced: (i) what are the con- texts, mainly syntactic, where negation receives its vacuous interpretation? (ii) Is EN a phenomenon grammatically distinct from standard negation or are they the same one? In this article I will provide empirical and theoretical arguments to show that EN derives from a particular syntactic configuration by investigating a case of Ital- ian EN, i.e. Surprise Negation Sentences. More specifically, I will propose that the Italian negative marker “non” (“not”) has a twofold interpretation encoded in syn- tax: (i) when it is merged in the TP-area during the v*P-phase, it gives the standard negative interpretation reversing the truth-value conditions of a sentence; (ii) when it is merged in the CP domain and the v*P-phase is already closed, it gives the exple- tive interpretation shown in Snegs. From this point of view, the expletive reading of negation is just a reflex of the syntactic context in which negation is introduced.

On the syntax of surprise negation sentences: A case study on expletive negation

Greco, Matteo
2020

Abstract

Expletive Negation is widespread in human languages. Although many semantic, pragmatic and syntactic hypotheses about it have been advanced, it still remains puzzling. Two questions, particularly, need to be faced: (i) what are the con- texts, mainly syntactic, where negation receives its vacuous interpretation? (ii) Is EN a phenomenon grammatically distinct from standard negation or are they the same one? In this article I will provide empirical and theoretical arguments to show that EN derives from a particular syntactic configuration by investigating a case of Ital- ian EN, i.e. Surprise Negation Sentences. More specifically, I will propose that the Italian negative marker “non” (“not”) has a twofold interpretation encoded in syn- tax: (i) when it is merged in the TP-area during the v*P-phase, it gives the standard negative interpretation reversing the truth-value conditions of a sentence; (ii) when it is merged in the CP domain and the v*P-phase is already closed, it gives the exple- tive interpretation shown in Snegs. From this point of view, the expletive reading of negation is just a reflex of the syntactic context in which negation is introduced.
Expletive negation · Standard negation · Phases · Left periphery
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12076/7158
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