Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

5. EN Triggers and Their Properties

Academic journal article Journal of Slavic Linguistics

5. EN Triggers and Their Properties

Article excerpt

The logic developed in the previous section demanded the assumption that negation in yes/no questions with li cannot reconstruct. This gives the complementizer a special role, since it must be the interrogative complementizer that prevents reconstruction. The intuition that complementizers play an important role in EN phenomena is shared by many who have worked on EN (see Espinal 1992; Brown 1999a, b; Brown and Franks 1995, 1997).

The special role of complementizers for EN is easily demonstrated. Compare examples (69=7b) and (70) (based again on data noticed by Brown and Franks 1995), which form a minimal pair. The difference lies in the choice of complementizer: kak by vs. cto. In (69), with kak by, negation has the characteristics of EN: it is unable to license the ni-phrase. With the complementizer cto, negation is true negation: ni-phrase licensing becomes possible.

(69) *Ja bojus', {kak by / ctoby} nikto  ne  opozdal.
      I  fear     how MOD  that   NI-who NEG was-late
      intended: 'I fear that somebody might be late.'

(70) [check]Ja bojus', cto  nikto  ne  opozdal.
            I  fear    that NI-who NEG was-late.
            'I am afraid that nobody was late.'

An important role for the complementizer (or some element in its vicinity) is also suggested by the contrast between examples (71a=7a) and (71b), on the one hand, and (71c), on the other. In (71a) negation (and the verb to which negation procliticizes) appear clause initially and in front of the interrogative complementizer li (on the status of li as a complementizer cf. King 1994). In (71b) a silent interrogative complementizer is employed and the same effect holds. However, if the same string of words is pronounced with declarative intonation, the ni-phrase becomes possible as in (71c) (cf. for comparable examples Brown 1999a: 68 ex. 29-30). These examples strongly suggest that the specific choice of complementizer (interrogative vs. declarative) matters.

(71) a. *Ne  znaet li nikto  iz vas, kak eto  delaetsja?
         NEG knows li NI-who of you  how this is-done
         'Don't any of you know how to do this?'

     b. *Ne  znaet nikto  iz vas kak eto delaetsja?
         NEG knows NI-who of you how this is-done
        'Don't any of you know how to do this?' (Brown and Franks
         1995: 270 ex. 270c)

     c. [check]Ne  znaet nikto  iz vas kak eto  delaetsja!
               NEG knows NI-who of you how this is-done
              'None of you knows how to do this!'

It seems safe to assume that properties of the complementizer play a very important role in explaining the complex patterns observed with EN in Russian.

In this section I take a second look at negated yes/no questions, this time from a semantic point of view. I argue that Brown 1999a, b; Brown and Franks 1995, 1997 do not offer any convincing evidence for assuming that negation is semantically vacuous (Brown and Franks 1995, 1997) or that it lacks negative force (Brown 1999a, b) in these cases. Its unusual properties can be explained by its high LF position.

I then turn to other EN contexts, trying to extend the logic developed in the previous section, i.e., the only thing that is special about EN is its high LF position. This section offers a view on the triggers of EN, i.e., (8iii), the only part of the overall theory of EN that we have not yet touched upon.

5.1. Yes/No Interrogatives

I now discuss several sets of data from Brown 1999a, b; Brown and Franks 1995, 1997 that are claimed either to require negation without negative force or to give additional support for the analysis invoking negation without negative force.

The first such argument has to do with nibud'-indefinites. Brown and Franks (1995) and Brown (1999b) claim that negation without semantic force sometimes occurs in questions even when it is not fronted, i.e., when it appears clause medially (72a). The difference between clause initial and clause medial negation in yes/no questions is that initial negation never has negative force in yes/no questions, but clause medial negation sometimes does (72b). …

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