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Academic Paper

Title: The Interaction of Modality and Negation in Finnish
Author: Rose Marie Thomas
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Westminster
Linguistic Field: Morphology; Syntax
Subject Language: Finnish
Abstract: In Finnish, negation is expressed via an auxiliary, and no other verb may occur above this auxiliary in the structure. This gives rise to a problem with respect to the modals of obligation and necessity, which take scope over negation yet appear below it. It is tempting to account for this in terms of LF-movement, but evidence suggests that there are in fact two modal phrases in Finnish, one above negation and the other below it, the higher of which encodes necessity/obligation. Evidence for the higher phrase comes from the negative imperative. Although the PF part of a verb in a negative sentence cannot move to the head of this higher phrase, the head itself is in the right position to take scope over negation. Thus, rather than attributing the scope properties of the modals to LF-movement, it will instead be argued that the LF-interpretable part of a head is merged precisely where it takes scope, and that the relation between the LF- and PF-interpretable parts of the modal is one of . Head-movement will be regarded solely as a PF phenomenon. It will be seen that the scope relations of the modals and the imperative mood can be accounted for under this hypothesis. Thus, Finnish provides evidence for a view of syntax which identifies syntactic structure largely with the LF-interpretable part of a sentence, and sees head movement as fundamentally a PF phenomenon. There are two morphological moods in Finnish, which seem to provide counter-examples to this hypothesis, which will be left as a problem for future research.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 48, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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