LINGUIST List 3.846

Thu 29 Oct 1992

Disc: Ne Pleonastique

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Directory

  1. bert peeters, 3.830 Pleonastic Ne
  2. "Ellen F. Prince", Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items
  3. Laszlo Kalman, Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items
  4. Knud Lambrecht, Re: 3.829 Ne Pleonastique
  5. , pleonastic negation
  6. benji wald, Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

Message 1: 3.830 Pleonastic Ne

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 92 10:43:12 ES3.830 Pleonastic Ne
From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>
Subject: 3.830 Pleonastic Ne

> Date: Mon, 26 Oct 1992 23:16 est
> From: SKIESLINGguvax.acc.georgetown.edu
>
> Although my French is very, very limited, it strikes me that the only
> possibility being entertained for this 'ne pleonastique' is negation.
> Why not something else, like modality. The sentences cited by Don Webb
> ("Je crains qu'il ne pleuve" "I fear it may rain" and "Ce 'ne' est
> plus difficile a'comprendre que je ne pensais" "This 'ne' is harder to
> understand than I thought") both seem to entail a certain amount of
> irrealis or uncertainty on the speaker's part (judging from the
> translation, however), especially in the former sentence, where the
> translation contains a modal expressing uncertainty.

If it were not some sort of an implicit negation, but a matter of irrealis
or uncertainty, we would surely see a far more extensive use of 'ne pleo-
nastique' than we actually do, e.g. in hypothetical clauses of the type
"If I had known, I wouldn't have come" -> in French "si j'avais su, je ne
serais pas venu". There is no 'ne pleonastique' in the irrealis part.
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Message 2: Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

Date: Tue, 27 Oct 92 21:21:26 ESRe: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items
From: "Ellen F. Prince" <ellencentral.cis.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

oops. i misglossed and mistranslated a yiddish sentence and the real
gloss may be relevant to the modality issue:

>vi er zol nit gehat laydn fun ir...
>how he shall not had suffer from her...
>'however much he had suffered because of her...'

the pluperfect in yiddish is not very common (yiddish lacks most 'sequence of
tense' phenomena, so the need doesn't arise very often) and is usually conveyed
by helping verb + _gehat_ 'had' + past ppl but it may also be, as in the above
sentence, helping verb (here _zoln_ 'shall') + _gehat_ 'had' + infin (here
_laydn_ 'suffer'). i'd never seen a pluperfect where the helping verb was
not _zayn_ 'be' or _hobn_ 'have', whichever one the main verb selects, but here
it is _zoln_ 'shall', presumably required by the pleonastic negation. but
perhaps the pluperfect is there to override somehow the irrealis effect of
_zoln_...

anyway, sorry for the mistake in my previous posting.
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Message 3: Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 92 10:00:36 MERe: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items
From: Laszlo Kalman <kalmanmars.let.uva.nl>
Subject: Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

Does not French `jamais' in the sense of `ever' also fall into the category
of pleonastic negation? In addition to `si jamais' (`just in case'), which
is idiomatic, I think constructions like `le plus beau village que j'ai jamais
vu' (`the most beautiful town I've ever seen) are quite common, unlike those
with expletive `ne'.
-- Laszlo Kalman
 Dept. of Computational Linguistics
 University of A'dam
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Message 4: Re: 3.829 Ne Pleonastique

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 92 08:43:42 -0Re: 3.829 Ne Pleonastique
From: Knud Lambrecht <lambrecemx.cc.utexas.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.829 Ne Pleonastique

As a classical-philologist-turned-generative-linguist who now teaches
syntax-semantics in a French department I thought I should have something
intelligent to say about those funny NEs in written French, but all I can
come up with (in response to the quest for information from latinists) is
something I learned in highschool from my Latin teacher in Germany. The
NE in Latin complement clauses after verbs like TIMEO `to fear' etc. was
explained to me as a vestige of "old parataxis", so TIMEO NE VENIAT `I'm
afraid that he might come' started out as TIMEO! NE VENIAT `I'm scared!
May he not come!, where the second clause has the desiderative subjunctive
(or whatever it's called). It made sense to me then and it still does now.
But Latin PRIUSQUAM `before' and ANTEQUAM `before' to my recollection do
not have clausal complements introduced by NE. They just have the plain
subjunctive, so French AVANT QU'IL NE VIENNE is probably not a Latin
vestige. Wish I knew more, and I hope someone will give a nice explanation
for the NE in those other French subordinate constructions.

Knud Lambrecht
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Message 5: pleonastic negation

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 1992 16:11:52 pleonastic negation
From: <HASPELMATHphilologie.fu-berlin.dbp.de>
Subject: pleonastic negation

Ellen Prince points out that "pleonastic negation" occurs in (what I call)
parametric concessive conditional clauses in Yiddish:

Es iz mir gut vu ikh zol nit zayn.
it it to.me good where I SBJV NEG be
'I'm fine wherever I am.'

This also occurs in some Slavic languages, notably Polish and the East Slavic
languages, so the Yiddish construction is clearly a calque. Cf. Russian:

Mne xorosho gde by ja ni byl.
to.me good where SBJV I NEG be:PAST
'I'm fine wherever I am.'

The only other language where I have found negation in parametric concessive
conditional clauses is Georgian. In this language, influence from Slavic is
much less likely, though not impossible.
 In a recent talk on the typology of concessive conditional clauses
by Ekkehard Koenig and myself, we speculate that there might be a connection
between pleonastic negation in concessive conditionals and negation in
exclamative clauses, e.g. German

Was du nicht sagst!
what you NEG say:PRES:2SG
'What are you saying!'

Martin Haspelmath, Free University of Berlin
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Message 6: Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

Date: Wed, 28 Oct 92 17:02 PST
From: benji wald <IBENAWJMVS.OAC.UCLA.EDU>
Subject: Re: 3.836 Negatives: Ne Pleonastique and Polarity Items

Getting back to English, is the literary "I fear lest S" a calque on French,
since "lest" is a negative meaning "so that NOT" in other contexts?
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