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Summary Details

Query:   Negation Systems
Author:  Claire Lampp
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Historical Linguistics
Genetic Classification

Summary:   Regarding query:

Thank you to the following individuals, who made me aware of negation
systems in various languages and directed me to appropriate reference
works: Aubrey Nunes, Timur Maisak, Hedde Zeiljstra, Elena Bashir, and B.C.
Singh. Should anyone like to share additional thoughts, that would be
appreciated as well.

Aubrey Nunes referred me to the French system, with its several negative

Timur Maisak pointed out that many of the Caucasian languages have “split”
negation systems and provided the following as examples: the
Nakh-Daghestanian family, which is usually split along
prohibitive/non-prohibitive lines; Udi, which has one negator corresponding
to the indicative, another corresponding to the prohibitive, and a third
used with non-finite forms; Georgian, which uses three negation markers
roughly assigned to “prohibitive,” “possibilitive,” and default.

Timur also directed me to several reference works:
- An online grammar of Udi by Wolfgang Schulze at
- A collection on the Caucasian languages in Lingua 115 (2005), esp. pp.
65, 169-170.
- The Indigenous Languages of the Caucasus (in four volumes edited by
Greppin, Harris, and Smeets; 1994)
- for a typology of prohibitive marking: the introduction to Xrakovskij
(ed.). Typology of Imperative Constructions. Muenchen, 2001.
- as an example for the use of honorific vs. non-honorific in the
prohibitive: Louwerse, J. The Morphosyntax of Una in Relation to
Discourse Structure: A Descriptive Analysis (Pacific Linguistics, Series B,
100). Canberra: Australian National University, 1988. pp. 21-22.
- on Georgian: Vogt, H. Grammaire de la langue georgienne. (Instituttet
for sammenlignende kulturforskning; Series B: Skrifter, 57). Oslo:
Universitetsforlaget, 1971. p. 197-198.

Hedde Zeiljstra distinguished two language types based on negation systems.
In one, “two negative markers have distinct semantic/pragmatic functions.”
For this type, he gave the example of Bengali and referred me to a paper
by Gillian Ramchand (“Tense and negation in Bengali” in Linguistic
Structure and Language Dynamics in South Asia, 2001, pp. 308-326). For the
second type, Hedde referred to French and highlighted “Jesperson’s Cycle.”
In such languages, “the difference between the two markers is mainly
syntactic.” Hedde also directed me to particular sections of his thesis,
“Sentential Negation and Negative Concord,” for further study.

Elena Bashir referred me to a relevant paper she presented at the 23rd
annual meeting of the South Asian Languages Analysis Roundtable (SALA 23)
entitled “Na and nahII in Hindi and Urdu.”

B. C. Singh shared information on verbal negation in Oriya, in which the
negative morpheme can be an auxiliary, a particle, or a suffix. Further,
in Oriya some negative markers are morphological and some are syntactic.

Thank you all for your contributions!

Claire Lampp

LL Issue: 16.1957
Date Posted: 24-Jun-2005
Original Query: Read original query


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