Wednesday, July 12, 2017

On the Subject of Negative Auxiliary Inversion

Here is a new paper about negation co-written with Frances Blanchette. We investigate NAI which is a construction found in some varieties of English (not mine):

(1) Ain't nobody done you wrong.

In this example one has both negative concord (n't and nobody represent together one semantic negation), and NAI (since the auxiliary appears to the left of the subject). We present three properties of NAI, and show how all of them follow from the following assumption:

(2) In NAI, the subject is negative.

Actually, it turns out that (2) does not have to be stipulated. Although (2) clearly holds for (1) we also show it holds for (3):

(3) Didn’t many people go to the party.

In our analysis, (3) has the subject [NEG [many people]], and NEG cliticizes to Fin.

This paper is the strongest argument since Horn clauses for the analysis of some NPIs as unary NEG structures, which was a key assumption of CP2014, and which is completely contrary to mainstream assumptions about negative polarity items.

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