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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Sociocultural approaches to writing
Author:   Bart Geurts
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics

Query:   Tue, 14 Aug 2001 14:56:10 +0200
Bart Geurts
Quantification and negation

It is generally agreed that the German sentence in (1a), transliterated in
(1b), may be construed as being synonymous with (2). This reading is
somewhat problematic, because it seems to require that only the negative
part of ''kein Auto'' be fronted.

(1a) Alle Professoren haben kein Auto.
(1b) All professors have no car.

(2) Not all professors own cars.

It has been suggested to me that the English sentence in (1b) admits of the
same construal, and I would like to know if that is correct, and if there
dialectal or idiolectal variation in this point.

It seems to me that it is fairly easy to read (3a), where I suppose ''no
geniuses'' must be read predicatively, as synonymous with (3b), and would
like to know if this is true, and if so, whether this reading is easier to
obtain than in the case of (1b):

(3a) All professors are no geniuses.
(3b) Not all professors are geniuses.

Finally, I would be interested to know if speakers' intuitions about (1b)
and (3a) are somehow related to their intuitions about sentences in which
negation associates with the verb, such as the following:

(4) All professors aren't ill.

Bart Geurts
LL Issue: 12.2064
Date posted: 20-Aug-2001


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