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On Prohibitive and Expletive Negations

Abstract : In this paper we study the diachronic development of expletive negation from Indo-European to French, through Latin. We show that the negative expression (from Indo-European) is found in two contexts in Latin: imperatives and priority attitudes. We propose a unified semantics for these contexts, that leaves room to accommodate a distinction between positive (e.g. order/wish) and negative (e.g. forbid/fear) priority attitudes. We argue for an ambiguity account of driven by these two types of attitudes, and argue for a distinction of a prohibitive acting as a true negation in the context of imperatives and positive priority attitudes and an expletive , reversing the value of the ordering source of trigger with negative priority attitudes. We show that, in French, only expletive negation survives the Jespersen Cycle and offer a principle explanation for the distributions observed. We also show how our account can be extended to expletive negation in the context of epistemic attitudes conveying a meaning of contrariness such as doubt thus establishing a unified semantics for attitudes that cuts across priority and epistemic ones.
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Contributor : Alda Mari <>
Submitted on : Friday, June 12, 2020 - 10:38:52 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 12, 2021 - 3:29:11 AM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-02865961, version 1



Alda Mari, Chloé Tahar. On Prohibitive and Expletive Negations. 2020. ⟨halshs-02865961⟩



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