Sentential Negation in French

Sentential Negation in French

Sentential Negation in French

Sentential Negation in French

Synopsis

This is the first full-length study of sentential negation phenomena in French. Paul Rowlett assesses, from a generative perspective, the respective contribution made to the expression of clausal polarity by ne, pas, and elements such as jamais and personne.

Excerpt

Sentential negation has been of interest to linguists and philosophers for centuries. In this book, I propose an analysis of the principal phenomena in Modern French within the Principles-and-Parameters framework of generative syntax. (See Chomsky and Lasnik 1993 and Haegeman 1994a. For more recent versions of generative syntax, see Chomsky 1995b and Radford 1997. For introductions in French, see Pollock 1997a and Tellier 1995.) In so doing, I reconsider a number of the core issues that have been discussed in the literature: What items are truly negative in Modern French? Is Modern French a negative concord language? What is the status of ne and pas? What structural positions are they associated with? How is ne licensed? Why is ne excluded from nonsentential negation contexts? What is the theoretical significance of the controversial pour ne pas que construction? How are pseudopartitives licensed? Why does the distribution of rien typically follow that of tout rather than personne? Why can jamais readily follow a lexical infinitive while pas cannot? Why can items such as jamais and rien co-occur with each other without leading to logical double negation but not, generally, with pas? And why does the variety of French spoken in Quebec differ from Standard French in this respect? These and other questions are addressed in this book. In some cases, I come to the same conclusions as other researchers; in a number of cases, however, my conclusions differ.

Throughout the book, I follow a tradition initiated by Edward Klima more than thirty years ago and represented in current work by such linguists as Paolo Acquaviva, Adriana Belletti, Michel DeGraff, Viviane Déprez, Maria-Teresa Espinal, Liliane Haegeman, Paul Hirschbühler, Marie Labelle, Itziar Laka, Luc Moritz, Jamal Ouhalla, Elizabeth Pearce, Jean-Yves Pollock, Ljiljana Progovac, Maria-Luisa Rivero, Daniel Valois, and Raffaella Zanuttini. The work of these linguists will be referred to as the discussion progresses.

The fundamental assumption underlying the book is that clausal polarity is feature based. In particular, I assume, with Haegeman (1995: 107), that negative clauses are characterized by the presence of a feature, which I shall call [+NEG], on a functional head of the extended projection of V-that is, in the clausal domain. Consequently, most of my concern about sentential negation in Modern French revolves around how this feature specification is achieved. The data suggest that ne, which I assume, following work by Pollock (1989), is associated . . .

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.