Research talk

Februari 24, 16-17.30 h.

Gertjan Postma, University of Nijmegen

Across-the-board extraction of negation? (Or: how to change scope without movement)

abstract: In this talk we will discuss coordinative constructions with a negator in one of the members, where the negator takes scope over both coordinates. An example is given in (i), reading 2.

(i) Men/je ziet geen bekende en loopt (dan) weg!
1. one sees no acquaintance and one (therefore) walks away (narrow scope of NEG)
2. it is not done that one sees an acquaintance and walks away (wide scope of NEG)

(The second reading is optained if one pronounces the conjuncts in one intonational contour).

It has been proposed (Jacobs 1980, 1991, Rullman 1995, Zonneveld 1994) that the negator ‘geen’ is composed of two quantificational elements, NEG + EXIST, which can scope independently. In such an approach, the negative operator should extract out of the coordination, i.e. “across-the-board”. The problem with this approach is that this extraction is syntactically not allowed as it occurs from one conjunct, i.e. assymmetrically. Moreover, this approach faces problems of various semantic kinds (Geurts 1996, De Swart (2000).

Instead, we will propose that sentential negation elements, like ‘geen’, are not composed of negation + other quantificational element (NEG + EXIST or ALL + NEG), but that negation ITSELF should be decomposed. Negation itself is no semantic primitive, but emerges upon certain entailment FUNCTIONS high and low in the structure ( Ladusaw (1980, Swarts 1986). On the basis of this decomposition we can change the readings without changing scope.

Finally, we will speculate on the irreducible basis of the connectives in propositional logics, predicate logics and higher logics. We claim that negation is not part of that basis.

Geurts, B. (1996). On "no". J. of Semantics 13, 67-86.
Jacobs, J. (1980). Lexical decomposition in Montegue Grammar', Theoretical Linguistics, 7, p.ll-136.
Jacobs, J. (1991). Negation. In: A. von Stechow & D. Wunderlich (eds) Semantics: An International Handbook of Contemporaly Research, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, p.560-596.
Ladusaw, W.A. (1980). Polarity sensitivity and inherent scope relations. Proefschrift, U. van Texas.
Munn, A. (1992). A null operator analysis of ATB gaps. The Linguistic Review 9, 1-26.
Rullmann, H. (1995). Geen eenheid. Tabu 25, 194-197.
Swart, H. de (2000). Scope Ambiguities with negative quantifiers. In: Klaus von Heusinger & Urs Egli (eds.) Reference alld anapharic relations. Dordrecht Kluwer.
Zonneveld, R. (1994) Coordinatie, Negatie en SGF. Tabu 24(1). blz. 15-36.
Zwarts, F. (1986). Categoriale grammatica en algebraische semantiek: een onderzoek naar negatie en polariteit in het Nederlands. Proefschrift RUG.