Academic journal article Atlantis, revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos

Anteposicion Negativa: Intervencion Y Variacion Parametrica En Oraciones Completivas

Academic journal article Atlantis, revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos

Anteposicion Negativa: Intervencion Y Variacion Parametrica En Oraciones Completivas

Article excerpt

Negative Preposing: Intervention and Parametric Variation in Complement Clauses.


Since the publication of the seminal paper by Joseph Emonds (1969), a number of proposals have been put forth to attempt to explain why certain types of transformations can only occur in root contexts--see, among others, Hooper and Thompson (1973), Emonds (1976), Maki, Kaiser and Ochi (1999), Haegeman (2000; 2002; 2006a; 2006b; 2007 and 2010), Heycock (2006), Bianchi and Frascarelli (2010), Miyagawa (2010), Jimenez-Fernandez and Miyagawa (2014). More precisely, the generalization that all these linguists draw is that certain transformations are restricted to main clauses and subordinate clauses with root properties. (1)

Concentrating on negative preposing (NPr), which has been described as a subtype of focus fronting in English by Andrew Radford (2009) and Haegeman (2012, 44), the following examples show that its distribution is restricted to main or root clauses (or root-like clauses) in a language such as English: (2)

(1) Seldom have the children had so much fun.

(2) I exclaimed that never in my life had I seen such a crowd.

(3) *It's likely that seldom did he drive that car. (Hooper and Thompson 1973, 479)

Note that the fronted constituents are all adjuncts, which, according to Haegeman (2012, 73), makes fronting easier. However, arguments can also be hosted in the left periphery as a consequence of negative preposing, and therefore a distinction between root and non-root contexts is also relevant:

(4) Not a single book did he buy. (Haegeman 2012, 9)

(5) I swear that not a single book did he buy. (Haegeman 2012, 9)

(6) * It is unlikely that not a single book did he buy in all his life.

In his original study, Emonds claims that "a root will mean either the highest S in a tree, an S immediately dominated by the highest S or the reported S in indirect discourse" (1969, 6). In a later work, Emonds identifies a series of transformations that can be applied in embedded contexts such as topicalization and negative preposing in English (2004). As he remarks, these embedded root phenomena, according to Hooper and Thompson (1973), correspond to those transformations which can be applied in indirect discourse. These root-like indirect discourse embeddings-- RIDEs, in Emonds's terminology--freely allow root transformations (RTs) such as negative preposing, whereas other types of embeddings block this kind of syntactic operation. Examples (7), (8) and (9) illustrate three instances of RIDE, all taken from Emonds (2004, 77).

(7) Bill warned us that [RIDE flights to Chicago we should try to avoid].

(8) John said that [RIDE never did the children help his mother].

(9) It is shocking to Sue that [RIDE not once has Mary heard from her children].

For Emonds, RIDEs are finite complement clauses of a governing verb (V) or adjective (A) (2004). This explains the free application of NPr in (7), (8) and (9). The same syntactic context allows topic fronting and RTs in general. As Emonds observes, if these operations apply in non-RIDE environments, the outcome is ill-formed. This is seen in the following examples, also from Emonds (2004, 77).

(10) * We will propose [only until five working] to the management.

(11) * I ignored the boss who was so angry that [only until five did we work].

(12) * Their promise that [only until five will they work] will soon be posted.

As is clear, these sentences involve instances of non-reported speech non-finite clauses (10), adjunct clauses (11) and complements of Noun (12). From a formal perspective, Emonds argues that RIDEs project a Discourse Shell (2004, 85). Hence, root and root-like clauses are analyzed as in (13):

(13) [formula not reproducible]

The phrase which Emonds terms YP corresponds to any constituent undergoing movement to the specifier of the Discourse Shell. …

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