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date: 31 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Neg-raising is “the strong tendency in many languages to attract to the main verb a negative which should logically belong to the dependent nexus [=clause]”: a speaker uttering I don’t believe that p is typically taken to have conveyed ‘I believe that not-p’. Such lower-clause understandings of higher-clause negations are possible across certain predicates (believe, think, want) but not others (realize, regret, deny) in English and other languages. Grammatical theories of Neg-raising posit a movement rule based on evidence from the interaction of higher negation with strict negative polarity items, negative inversion, negative parentheticals, and syntactic islands. Semantic and pragmatic approaches cite the relation of Neg-raising to other processes involving contrary negation in contradictory form, the availability of excluded middle presuppositions (I believe that p v I believe that not-p), the Neg-first conspiracy, and the role of politeness or euphemism in motivating Neg-raising.

Keywords: contrary negation, excluded middle, negative polarity items (NPIs), negative inversion, Neg-first, Neg-raising, negative parentheticals, politeness

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