Syntactic vs. Semantic Negation

  • Hedde Zeijlstra


In this paper I investigate the relation between Negative Concord (NC) and the syntactic status of negative markers. I will show that (basing myself on three different empirical domains) Jespersen’s original bidirectional generalization between these two phenomena should be replaced by a unidirectional one: whenever a language has a negative marker that is a syntactic head, the language exhibits NC; languages that only exhibit Double Negation lack a negative head. I will analyze NC as a form of syntactic agreement. This means that only NC languages have a functional projection NegP. Moreover, this means that n-words in Negative Concord languages cannot be regarded as semantically negative and that not in every language the negative marker itself is the phonological realization of a negative operator. I will conclude my paper by showing that this analysis predicts the correct readings of multiple negative expressions, including those that formed problems for previous analyses of NC.
How to Cite
Zeijlstra, H. (2019). Syntactic vs. Semantic Negation. Proceedings of Sinn Und Bedeutung, 8, 333-348.