Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"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

Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:


Still Needed:


Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington

Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

New from Oxford University Press!


What is English? And Why Should We Care?

By: Tim William Machan

To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.

New from Cambridge University Press!


Medical Writing in Early Modern English

Edited by Irma Taavitsainen and Paivi Pahta

This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.

Query Details

Query Subject:   Lexicalization of Negative Senses
Author:   Ljuba Veselinova
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Semantics

Query:   I am looking for data and literature on lexicalized negative senses such as ’not know’, ’not want’, ’not like’, ‘not listen’, ‘not believe’ or any other expressions that can be semantically decomposed into a negative element and a positive sense. In the data I currently have, such lexicalicalizations appear to be of two kinds
(i) more or less transparent fusions of a negation marker and an affirmative form as in modern spoken French /ʃepas/ < sais pas < [je ne] sais pas
(ii) completely unanalyzable, most probably lexical, stems as in Tundra Nenets in (1a). Such stems have no formal resemblance with either the positive form (1b) or the marker of standard negation (1c)
(1a) jexerasj ‘not know’
(1b) ténewasj ‘know’
(1c) n’i- negative auxiliary for standard negation

I also have the impression that forms meaning ‘I don’t know’ may often split from the paradigm and develop a more grammatical uses. For instance, the Tundra Nenets form jekarɁ ‘I don’t know’ is described as a particle and can be used as short negative answer as well as a negative particle external to the proposition (Wagner-Nagy 2011: 129-131).

So far I have data on such lexicalizations from Slavic, Uralic and Polynesian, and also from some dozen languages outside these families. I would like to check the extent of this phenomenon in a larger cross-linguistic sample. Such data are harder to come by than it might seem for several reasons: (a) they are not necessarily included in grammars; (b) they are more suitable to be looked up in a dictionary but for many poorly described languages, there are no dictionaries.

I am aware of the literature on lexicalization (some key references are listed below) and also of work on negative modals. An early note on similar lexicalizations is found in Jespersen (1917). Croft (1991: 14-15) mentions verbs meaning ‘not-want’ and ‘not-like’ for Mam, Yapese, Tagalog, Wintu and Latin.

As I said in the beginning, data and pointers to literature on this phenomenon will be greatly appreciated. I will summarize if there is interest.

Thank you in advance for your time and help.

My best wishes,

Brinton, Laurel J., and Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. 2005. Lexicalization and Language Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Caink, Andrew. 2000. Full Form Auxiliaries in Serbian/Croatian/Bosnian. In ANNUAL WORKSHOP ON FORMAL APPROACHES TO SLAVIC LINGUISTICS: THE PHILADELPHIA MEETING 1999, King, Tracy Holloway & Sekerina, Irina A. [Eds], Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications, 2000, pp 61-77, ed. Andrew Caink.
Croft, William. 1991. The Evolution of Negation. Journal of Linguistics 27:1-39.
de Haan, Ferdinand. 1997. The Interaction of Negation and Modality: A Typological Study: Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics Series: Garland Publishers.
Goddard, Cliff. 2001. Lexico-semantic universals: A critical overview. Linguistic Typology 5:1-65.
Grygar-Rechziegel, Adela. On the Typology of Czech Negative Adjectives. In STUDIES IN WEST SLAVIC AND BALTIC LINGUISTICS, Barentsen, A. A., Groen, B. M., & Sprenger, R. [Eds], Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1991, pp 107-165, ed. Adela Grygar-Rechziegel.
Hopper, Paul, and Traugott, Elizabeth. 1993. Grammaticalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Jespersen, Otto. 1917. Negation in English and other languages. København: Hovedkommissionær: Andr, Fred, Høst & Søn, KGL. Hof-boghandel, Bianco Lunos Bogtrykkeri.
Kim, Yong-Joo. 1997. Verb Lexicalization Patterns in Korean-With Focus on Motion Conflation in Complex Verb Constructions. In JAPANESE/KOREAN LINGUISTICS, VOL. 6, Sohn, Ho-min, & Haig, John [Eds], Stanford, CA: Center Study Language & Information, 1997, pp 495-511, ed. Yong-Joo Kim.
Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria, Vanhove, Martine, and Koch, Peter. 2007. Typological approaches to lexical semantics. Linguistic Typology 11:159-185.
Melnar, Lynette Renee. Caddo Verb Morphology, Dissertation Abstracts International, A: The Humanities and Social Sciences.
Moreno-Cabrera, Juan C. 1998. On the relationships between grammaticalization and lexicalization. In The Limits of Grammaticalization, eds. Anna Giacalone Ramat and Paul Hopper, 211-227. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Na, Young-Hee. 1981. A Constraint on the Lexicalization of Negation. Papers from the Regional Meetings, Chicago Linguistic Society 17:239-248.
Newman, John. 2002. A Cross-Linguistic Overview of the Posture Verbs 'Sit', 'Stand', and 'Lie': THE LINGUISTICS OF SITTING, STANDING, AND LYING, Newman, John [Ed], Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Netherlands.
Shaffer, Barbara. 2002. CAN'T: The Negation of Modal Notions in ASL. Sign Language Studies 3:34-53.
Talmy, Leonard. 1985. Lexicalization patterns: semantic structure in lexical forms. In Language Typology and Syntactic Description. Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon, ed. Timothy Shopen, 58-149. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Traugott, Elizabeth Closs. From Polysemy to Semantic Change: Towards a Typology of Lexical Semantic Associations. Linguistic Typology 14:292-299.
Wagner-Nagy, Beáta. 2011. On the typology of negation in Ob-Ugric and Samoyedic Languages. Helsinki: Suomalais-Ugrilainen Seura -- Société Finno-Ougrienne -- Finno-Ugrian Society.
Van Der Auwera, Johan. 1996. Modality: The Three-Layered Scalar Square. Journal of Semantics 13:181-195.
Van der Auwera, Johan. 2001. On the Typology of Negative Modals. In PERSPECTIVES ON NEGATION AND POLARITY ITEMS, Hoeksema, Jack, Rullmann, Hotze, Sanchez-Valencia, Victor, & Van der Wouden, Ton [Eds], Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp 23-48, ed. Johan Van der Auwera.
Viberg, Åke. 1993. Crosslinguistic perfectives on lexical organization and lexical progression. In Progression and regression in language sociocultural, neuropsychological and linguistic perspectives, eds. Kenneth Hyltenstam and Åke Viberg, 340-385. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
LL Issue: 24.91
Date posted: 09-Jan-2013


Sums main page