The (en)rich(ed) meaning of expletive negation
This contribution addresses the issue of one of the instances of non-standard negation, the so-called expletive negation (EN). Though it discusses data from a variety of languages, it mainly concentrates on Italian, proposing that the behavior of EN in comparative, exclamative and temporal clauses warrants an analysis of EN in terms of an operator of implicature denial. This approach derives the fact that EN is truth-conditionally irrelevant from the fact that the semantics of negation as a truth-value reversal operator is shifted, in the case of EN, to the layer of implicated meaning. The analysis has a number of interesting consequences for the notion of metalinguistic negation. It further derives many of the interpretive effects normally linked to the so-called evaluative analysis of EN, and is compatible with a new set of data showing that EN scopally interacts with other negative elements. Finally, the proposal advanced here has a number of non-trivial implications regarding the relation between morphosyntax and the systems of interpretation, potentially affecting the standard view of language within cognition.
Keywords: non-standard negation, expletive negation, implicated meaning, implicature denial, negation processing
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Published online: 24 April 2019
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