8 Negative Indefinite Pronouns

While this work is the first in-depth typological study of indefinite pronouns in general, negative pronouns in particular have been the object of two recent large- scale cross-linguistic investigations, Bernini and Ramat ( 1992) and Kahrel ( 1996). I will focus my attention on the relation between negative indefinites and other indefinites, as well as on explanations of the observed universal tendencies that were not given in the works cited.

In § 8.1 I discuss the received taxonomy of negated indefinites, demonstrating that it is inadequate and that the implicational map of Chapter 4 provides for a better classification. § 8.2 deals with one important aspect of the syntax of negative indefinites, the co-occurence with a negative element associated with the verb. I will formulate a number of cross-linguistic generalizations and will propose functional explanations for them. Finally, in § 8.3 I examine various diachronic sources of negative indefinites, in particular negative scalar focus particles and minimal- unit expressions.


8.1. The Main Syntactic Types of Negative Indefinite

8.1.1. The consensus: four types

There is general agreement that there are four main syntactic ways of expressing negated indefinites, or in my terms, the direct-negation function of indefinite pronouns ( Dahl 1979; Bernini and Ramat 1992: 109-10; Kahrel 1996: 361). These four strategies are illustrated in (415a-d).

(415) (a) Verbal negation plus (ordinary) indefinite
Turkish (cf. bir şey 'something') Bir şey duy-ma-di-m. something hear-NEG-PAST-ISG 'I didn't hear anything.'
a. Verbal negation plus 'special indefinite' Basque (cf. nor-bait 'somebody', i-nor 'anybody') Ez dut inor ikusi. NEG I:have:him anybody seen 'I have not seen anybody.' ( Saltarelli 1988: ex. 525)
____________________
1
Kahrel distinguishes a fifth type ('existential'), which does not involve the use of indefinite pronouns. See § 3.3.2, where such cases are briefly described.

-193-

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