Three Types of Negation: A Case Study in Bavarian

Helmut Weiß (University of Regensburg)


One of the few linguistic phenomena which seems to be universal in a very straightforward sense is negation: all human languages have means to overtly "deny the truth of a proposition" (Dahl 1993: 914). So not surprisingly, negation is one of the topics which have attracted much interest in recent linguistics from various perspectives. The semantics and syntax of sentence negation and especially the phenomenon called negative concord has been widely studied in the nineties (cf. Acquaviva 1994; Brown 1999; Haegeman 1995; Haegeman & Zanuttini 1991; Ladusaw 1992, 1994; Progovac, 1994; Ouhalla 1997; van der Wouden 1997; Weiß 1998a, b, 1999; Zanuttini 1997; Zwarts 1996, among many others). Some interest has also been contributed to special cases like presuppositional negation (Vanden Wyngaerd 1999, Zanuttini 1997) or expletive negation (Brown 1999, Espinal 1992). However, what is rather rarely found in literature is a thorough investigation of all three types of non-constituent negation in one and the same language which could probably shed more light on the complex syntax-semantics interface behaviour of negation in natural languages. The following paper is a first attempt to do so for Bavarian.

My goal here is to present and investigate some data showing that there are three types of non-constituent negation in Bavarian which do not only differ semantically but syntactically as well (which does not seem to be the case in all languages, see section VI). The two types of (non-expletive) clausal negation differ in their syntactic position: negation 1 - as predicate negation it constitutes the unmarked case of sentence negation - immediately dominates VP, whereas negation 2 is located higher in the sentence structure. There are some further differences, for instance that only Neg 1 induces negative concord, but not Neg 2, as the contrast between (1a) and (1b) shows: in the scope of Neg 1, weak indefinites have to appear as negative indefinites, but not so when in the scope of Neg 2, where they are licensed without being inherently negated. Thus in (1b) the Bavarian indefinite pronoun ebba corresponding to German jemand or English someone can occur within the scope of Neg 2 without forcing ungrammaticallity or being interpreted as specific. This lack of specificity is an interesting point which will be discussed below.

(1) a daß'ma koana ned furtgehd
that-me nobody not away-goes
b damid ned ebba aaf dumme Gedankn kimmd
that not somebody on stupid ideas comes

Both types of clausal negations contribute negative force to sentence meaning, putting them in clear contrast to expletive negation which contributes no negative meaning despite the presence of the negative particle. Expletive negation occurs, e.g., in questions (2a) or in before-sentences (2b).

(2) a hamd's ned olle vo uns gsogd?
have-it not all of us said
b bevorsd ned aaframsd, dearfsd ned Fernsehschaun
before-2SG not tidy-up, may not TV-watch

These different kinds of negation will be explored in more detail in the sections III, IV and V.

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