Paratactic negation revisited
The case of the Finnish verb epäillä
This paper examines the phenomenon of paratactic negation (PN) by analyzing the usage of the Finnish verb epäillä (‘doubt’, ‘suspect’, ‘suppose’), which is associated with both inherent negation and negative evaluation. Paratactic negation refers to an overt negation in a complement clause of an inherently negative verb that results in a single negative reading. This analysis draws on previous research going back to Jespersen (1917), in observing that the PN complement clause verbalizes the content of the activity that is expressed by the matrix verb. In this case, the verb of inherent negation does not have scope over the complement despite its negative semantics. This paper addresses the question of where and why content complements actually occur. The answer to this question is given by accounting for the differences of the content complements from more clearly subordinate target complements. It is shown that this distinction is related to verb semantics and conventionalized syntagmatic patterns. This is demonstrated by accounting for the differences of the content complements from more clearly subordinate target complements. On the basis of these results, the paper offers a refined definition of paratactic negation. This definition has two major implications: First, it suggests that a semantically non-vacuous PN may be a conventionalized pattern. Second, it leads us to reconsider the limits of PN and the definition of inherent negation.
Published online: 19 October 2018
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