Negation in Non-Standard British English: Gaps, Regularizations, and Asymmetries

Negation in Non-Standard British English: Gaps, Regularizations, and Asymmetries

Negation in Non-Standard British English: Gaps, Regularizations, and Asymmetries

Negation in Non-Standard British English: Gaps, Regularizations, and Asymmetries

Synopsis

Despite the advances of radio and television and increasing mobility and urbanization, spoken English is by no means becoming more like the written standard. English dialect grammar, however, is still a new and relatively undeveloped area of research, and most studies to date are either restricted regionally, or based on impressionistic statements. This book provides the first thorough empirical study of the field of non-standard negation across Great Britain.

Excerpt

This chapter is designed to give an overview of the grammar of negation in standard English today, as this will be the relevant point of comparison for our discussion of non-standard features in the following chapters. The discussion of negation in standard English will centre on the 'heart' of negation, i.e. negation effected by the negator not and equivalent strategies, for example by nobody or nothing, and the interaction (or not) of the two. One particularly striking feature of English, the contraction of negator and verb, will be given much room, again as we expect interesting differences in non-standard English. Finally, the situation in English will be compared to other languages of Europe, giving us a measure by which to gauge whether standard English is a typical or untypical European language (with respect to negation). This will again become relevant in the following chapters, when we try to determine whether non-standard English behaves significantly differently from the standard.

Terminology

In this chapter we will be concerned both with the negation of a whole sentence or clause (sentence negation) and the negation of just a constituent of a clause (constituent negation), but not with what has - a little unfortunately - simply been called morphological negation in several treatments of English. The term morphological negation has been used in a generalized way to mark word-internal, more precisely, derivational negation, expressed in prefixes like un- or in- in unhappy and inanimate. This semantic 'negation' of the meaning of a word, however, has no effect on the syntax of a sentence, and therefore a sentence with a word containing one of these 'negative' morphemes may still be syntactically positive. For example, a sentence like He is unhappy requires a negative tag in a reversed polarity question, e.g. He is unhappy, isn't he?, as opposed to the sententially negative He is not happy, is he? (See Klima's criteria for sentence negation in Table 2.1.) For this reason, word-internal negation will not be treated in any depth here, as it is simply not a feature of syntax.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.