On the negativity of negation

Christopher Potts


Natural language negation is persistently negative in the pragmatic sense, and emphatic and attenuating negative polarity items modulate this effect in systematic ways. I use large corpora of informal texts with meta-data approximating features of the context to characterize this pragmatic negativity, and I attempt to explain it in terms of the ways in which negative sentences engage the questions under discussion. The discussion highlights some of the ways in which quantitative corpus methods can be used to achieve novel results in linguistic pragmatics.


scales; negation; negative polarity; expressives; corpus pragmatics

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