On the subject of negative auxiliary inversion

Frances Blanchette, Christopher Collins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    This article presents a novel analysis of Negative Auxiliary Inversion (NAI) constructions such as didn't many people eat, in which a negated auxiliary appears in pre-subject position. NAI, found in varieties including Appalachian, African American, and West Texas English, has a word order identical to a yes/no question, but is pronounced and interpreted as a declarative. We propose that NAI subjects are negative DPs, and that the negation raises from the subject DP to adjoin to Fin (a functional head in the left periphery). Three properties of NAI motivate this analysis: (i) scope freezing effects, (ii) the various possible and impossible NAI subject types, and (iii) the incompatibility of NAI constructions with true Double-Negation interpretations. Implications for theories of Negative Concord, Negative Polarity Items, and the representation of negation are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)32-61
    Number of pages30
    JournalCanadian Journal of Linguistics
    Volume64
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

    Fingerprint

    incompatibility
    interpretation
    Inversion
    Subject-auxiliary Inversion
    Negation
    American
    Negative Concord
    Negative Polarity Items
    African Americans
    Left Periphery
    Double Negation
    Yes/no Questions
    Eat

    Keywords

    • English
    • negated quantifier phrases
    • Negative Auxiliary Inversion
    • Negative Concord
    • quantifier scope freezing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language

    Cite this

    On the subject of negative auxiliary inversion. / Blanchette, Frances; Collins, Christopher.

    In: Canadian Journal of Linguistics, Vol. 64, No. 1, 01.03.2019, p. 32-61.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Blanchette, Frances ; Collins, Christopher. / On the subject of negative auxiliary inversion. In: Canadian Journal of Linguistics. 2019 ; Vol. 64, No. 1. pp. 32-61.
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