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Classical NEG RaisingAn Essay on the Syntax of Negation$
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Chris Collins and Paul M. Postal

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027311

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027311.001.0001

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(p.29) 4 Reversals
Classical NEG Raising

Chris Collins

Paul M. Postal

The MIT Press

This chapter examines cases in terms of double negation (NEG) structures, also known as reversals, a term motivated by the fact that a second NEG scoping over the first nullifies the semantic consequences of the first one. It considers the following three sentences: a) At most half of the class knows some physics; b) Everybody who steals some candy will get caught; c) If you steal some candy, you will be caught. It argues that there are at least two kinds of contrasting NEG structures depending on whether they involve single NEGs (unary-NEG structures) or two NEGs (binary-NEG or reversal structures). The distinction between unary- and binary-NEG structures interacts with the view that all negative polarity items (NPIs) involve at least one instance of NEG to yield a parallel typology of NPIs based on whether they represent unary- or binary-NEG structures. The chapter also discusses a constraint on NEG deletion in reversals, alternation with non-NPI indefinites, discourse anaphora, negative inversion, verb phrase ellipsis, intensives, and NPI types that do not permit reversal structures.

Keywords:   double negation, reversals, negative polarity items, NEG deletion, indefinites, discourse anaphora, negative inversion, verb phrase ellipsis, intensives

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