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Ørsnes, Bjarne: Preposed Negation in Danish

In Danish the base position of the negation and negated quantifier phrases is between the subject and the finite verb in embedded clauses. However, in embedded clauses introduced by a non-veridical complementizer such as hvis (`if') or om (`whether') the negation and negated quantifier phrases can also appear between the complementizer and the subject. This phenomenon is referred to as preposed negation. The paper investigates the structure and semantics of this construction. It is argued that preposed negation is no adjunction structure, but a special construction where the negation element is a sister of the complementizer and the filler of a filler-gap-structure. It is further argued that preposed negation is associated with negated verum-focus of a clause lacking an (aboutness-) topic. The negation of a verum predicate explains why preposed negation fails to license strong negative polarity items and to rule out positive ones. The lack of a topic explains why preposed negation is preferred with non-referential subjects and with weak readings of indefinite subjects and why preposed negation is incompatible with topic-binding particles.The final section presents an HPSG-analysis of preposed negation using Minimal Recursion Semantics (MRS).


Maintained by Stefan Müller

Created: October 13, 2009
Last modified: May 19, 2014

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