Negation in narrative
Why say what didn’t happen?
Negation in narrative has been described primarily as a resource for expressing evaluation, and secondarily in its role in establishing orientation, but this article investigates a range of ways negated statements can contribute directly to complicating action. Negation works through presupposition in the rhetorical figure of paralipsis with phrases like “to say nothing of.” Reporting “I don’t see how she got in” presupposes that she got in. Semantic double negation in phrases like “never fail to” contributes to the complicating action. Idiomatic negatives like “didn’t go out” and negatives matching expectations like “didn’t go to sleep” mirror positive actions in the narrative model. Constructions coupling main clause negation with a positive embedded clause produce statements entailing actions in the chain of events, as in “I couldn’t face going back.” Taken together, these constructions provide powerful resources for contributing positively to the dynamic narrative model with negative statements.
Keywords: negation, evaluation, complicating action, orientation, paralipsis, presupposition
Published online: 19 October 2018
Ayer, A. J.
Clark, H. H.
Corbett, E. P. J., & Connors, R. J.
Labov, W., & Waletzky, J.
Volterra, V., & Antinucci, F.[ p. 395 ]
Cited by 3 other publications
Norrick, Neal R.
Purcell, Carrie, Karen Maxwell, Fiona Bloomer, Sam Rowlands & Lesley Hoggart
Van De Mieroop, Dorien
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