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date: 14 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter introduces the reader to the concept of ‘metalinguistic negation’ as defined by Horn (1989), the extensive bibliography on the topic, and the main issues it considers and debates. Besides the pragmatic and semantic matters that have been at the heart of the literature’s discussions, the chapter also considers syntactic aspects of metalinguistic negation, extending the focus from not-sentences to a broader coverage of the ways metalinguistic negation can be grammatically expressed, including different types of unambiguous metalinguistic negation markers (e.g. idioms, such as like hell, wh- phrases, and locative/temporal deictics). The interaction between metalinguistic negation and polarity items is considered central to separate ‘metalinguistic’ from ‘descriptive’ negation. The distinction between metalinguistic negation and the concepts of denial and contrastive negation is also clarified. Brief notice is given of investigations in language acquisition, ERP and eye-tracking, which may put to the test the cognitive reality of metalinguistic negation.

Keywords: metalinguistic negation (MN), descriptive negation (DN), denial, contrastive negation, objection, ambiguity, negative polarity items (NPI), positive polarity items (PPI), unambiguous metalinguistic negation markers, left periphery

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