Microvariation in negation in varieties of Dutch

Sjef Barbiers (Meertens Institute)


This paper provides a description of the microvariation in negation attested in varieties of Dutch and a discussion of some of the theoretical issues arising from this variation. A central issue discussed is whether the negative element nie(t) 'NOT' is a head in current varieties of Dutch. On the basis of a novel observation concerning the fronting of nie(t) 'NOT', it is argued that at least in Standard Dutch this negative element is sometimes generated in a head position and sometimes in a specifier position. Which position is chosen follows without further assumptions from the interaction between the lexical specification of nie(t) 'NOT' and general syntactic licensing mechanisms. Other theoretical issues discussed include negative concord, the distribution of negative constituents and clause final negation. It is argued that the common properties of varieties of Dutch in this domain can be understood as resulting from the requirement that negative constituents move to SpecNegP. The attested microvariation is suggested to follow from a parametrization of the doubly filled NegP filter.

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