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Query Details


Query Subject:   "Negative raising" or "Transferred negation"
Author:   Hiroaki Tanaka
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Syntax

Query:   Dear all,
I am wroking on ''negative raising'' or ''transferred negation,'' to
which I intend to give a semantic and pragmatic explanation. The study
I'm working on leads to two main questions as follows.

(1) Why do speakers prefer transferred negation ''I don't think...'' to
subordinate clause nagation ''I think ... not...''? Is it really the case
that the negative operator ''not'' is ''raised'' to the main clause by
formulating some kind of syntacti devise? And are the two ''nots'' of ''I
don't think'' and ''You/He don't/doesn't think'' equally transferred from
the subordinate clause?

(2) If ''I don't think...'' type is regarded as unmarked, then ''I
think...not...'' type must be marked negation. Are they equal
semantically and pragmatically? If not, the marked type ''I think not''
can only be explained adequately by giving it special and marked
reading. What is that?

(2) concerns me most, because I have
found a lot of ''I think ... not'' type examples in the spoken English,
especially in the utterance of interviews. The first two examples
below are the authentic and real native speaker's utterances recorded
by journals for ESL learners in Japan. And the last one is from the
lines of ''Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.''

(3) Interviewer: As a children's author, I'd like to ask you, Mary, what
kind of message does this affair send to the children of America?
Mary Ryan: Well, unfortunately or not, as the case may be, I think the
children of America are growing up in a very worldy time. Half their
parents are divored. They have probably hjeard similar issues, or
overheard similar issues, being discussed in one of their several homes.
Um, they watch _South Park_, they tune in to the Internet. _I think_ the
children of America are _not_ the blushing innocents that perhaps my
generation was supposed to be.

(4) Interviewer: If President Clinton did have sex in the White House
with Monica Lewinsky, how serious is that, do you think?
Jimmy Carter (Former President of the United States): That in itself is
not serious at all, as far as legal aspects are concerned, or as far as
his performance of his duties are performed. And if you notice, none of
the allegations that are now being considered by Chairman Hyde and
the House judiciary Committee have anything to do with sex. They
involve not telling the truth, and they involve possible abuses of power,
and so forth. So legally, _I think_ the sexual acts, if they did occur,
_don't_ have any impact on his performance of duty or on the legalities
of the impeachment hearings.

(5) Han Solo: Well Princess, it looks like you managed to keep me here
a while longer.
Princess Leia Organa: I had nothing to do with it. General Rieekan
thinks it's dangerous for anyone to leave the system until they've
activated the energy shild.
Han Solo: That's a good story. _I think_ you just _can't_ bear to let a
gorgious guy like me our of your sight.
Princess Leia Organa: I don't know where you get you delusions, laser
brain!

My question is: Can you use ''I don't think'' type instead of ''I
think...not'' type in (4)-(7)? If possible, are there any meaning changes?
If not, why not?

(3) Can you say: I don't think the children of America are the blushing
innocents that perhaps my generation was supposed to be?

( )Yes, I can use ''I don't think''. / ( )No, I can't. :
Comment:


(4) Can you say: So legally, I don't think the sexual acts, if they did
occur, have any impact on his performance of duty or on the legalities
of the impeachment hearings?

( )Yes, I can use ''I don't think''. / ( )No, I can't. :
Comment:


(5) Can you say: I don't think you just can bear to let a gorgious guy like
me our of your sight?

( )Yes, I can use ''I don't think''. / ( )No, I can't. :
Comment:

Finally, concerning negative rasing, I think ''I don't think'' and
''You/He don't/doesn't think'' are different. Do you agree? Which do
you prefer, (a) or (b) tag question?

(6) You don't think he is fool enough to stick around here, (a)do you? /
(b)is he?

(7) He doesn't think they are fool enough to stick around here, (a)does
he? / (b)are they?

(8) I don't think he is fool enough to stick around here, (a)do I? / (b)is
he?

I'm looking forward to you insightful reply. Thank you very much in
advance. I'll post a summary soon. Please e-mail me to:

hiro-tanaka@ma2.justnet.ne.jp

Best wishes,

Hiroaki Tanaka

Associate Professor
Faculty of Integrated Arts and Sciences
Tokushima University
Japan

1-1, Minamijosanjima
Tokushima, 770-8502
Japan
LL Issue: 10.1207
Date posted: 16-Aug-1999



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