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LINGUIST List 20.3839

Tue Nov 10 2009

Diss: Semantics/Text/Corpus Ling: Byloo: 'Modality and Negation:...'

Editor for this issue: Di Wdzenczny <dilinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Pieter Byloo, Modality and Negation: A corpus-based study

Message 1: Modality and Negation: A corpus-based study
Date: 10-Nov-2009
From: Pieter Byloo <pieter.bylooua.ac.be>
Subject: Modality and Negation: A corpus-based study
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Institution: University of Antwerp
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2009

Author: Pieter Byloo

Dissertation Title: Modality and Negation: A corpus-based study

Dissertation URL: http://www.ua.ac.be/main.aspx?c=pieter.byloo&n=5953&ct=002880

Linguistic Field(s): Semantics
                            Text/Corpus Linguistics

Subject Language(s): Dutch (nld)
                            French (fra)

Dissertation Director:
Jan Nuyts

Dissertation Abstract:

In his dissertation entitled 'Modality and negation: A corpus-based
study', Pieter Byloo investigates the role of negation in the expression
of epistemic and deontic modality. A detailed description is offered of the
interaction between epistemic and deontic expressions on the one hand, and
negation on the other, on the basis of corpus research in Dutch and French.
The empirical findings are embedded in a cognitive-functional framework.
One of the key features of this framework is the function-to-form approach:
semantic categories are taken as a point of departure, rather than
individual expressions such as the modal auxiliaries. The study is based on
representative samples of a range of modal expressions, including adverbs,
adjectives, mental state predicates and auxiliaries. The corpora the
samples are derived from are composed of the naturally occurring spoken
Dutch and French.

For each one of the investigated expressions, a detailed empirical and
quantitative description is provided. This description comprises a
discussion of the samples, the various meaning categories, the interaction
with sentence mood, the effect of negation, the syntactic patterns, the
role of speaker commitment, the type of state of affairs, voice and the
wider discourse context. There turn out to be hardly any significant
differences between the affirmative samples and the negative ones.
Nevertheless, the study of negation within the negative samples reveals
some interesting correlations, like the relatively frequent occurrence of
negation among expression types that are able to express focussed
information or the relation between the effect of negation and the scalar
value of the modal expression or its factivity. In general, one might say
that the presence of negation is correlated with syntactic,
information-structural features rather than with semantic features.

In the final chapter of the dissertation, further reflections are made
about the role of negation in the expression of epistemic and deontic
modality. It is argued that a distinction should be made between a
conceptual representation and a lexical-semantic representation. This
accounts for the fact that speakers may choose between various lexical
alternatives, affirmative ones and negative ones, according to the position
they take on the conceptual scale.

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