Marloes Oomen (Institut Jean Nicod, ENS Paris)

Neg-raising in three sign languages

(joint work with Carlo Geraci)

In Neg-raising constructions, a negation which is realized in the main clause of a complex construction logically seems to belong to the dependent clause. For instance, I don't believe that p is usually interpreted as conveying I believe that ¬p. Having garnered much theoretical interest for its potential to be accounted for from both syntactic and semantic/pragmatic perspectives (e.g. Bartsch 1973; Horn 1978; Gajewski 2007; Collins & Postal 2014; Zeijlstra 2017), the phenomenon of Neg-raising has been well-studied in spoken languages. In contrast, it has hardly been investigated in signed languages at all. In this talk, we report on our study of Neg-raising constructions in French Sign Language (LSF) and Sign Language of the Netherlands (NGT) based on newly elicited data. We demonstrate that Neg-raising predicates also exist in these sign languages, and we apply a variety of diagnostics to evaluate their properties. In the process, we additionally show that Neg-raising constructions can be used reliably as a diagnostic for embedding in sign languages, and that the sign until behaves as a strong NPI in LSF.

Bartsch, R. (1973). 'Negative transportation' gibt es nicht. Linguistische Berichte, 27, 1–7.
Collins, C., & Postal, P. M. (2014). Classical NEG Raising. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gajewski, J. R. (2007). Neg-raising and polarity. Linguistics and Philosophy, 30(3), 289–328.
Horn, L. R. (1978). Remarks on neg-raising. In P. Cole (Ed.), Pragmatics (pp.129–220). New York, NY, US: Academic Press.
Zeijlstra, H. (2017). Does Neg-Raising Involve Neg-Raising? Topoi, 37(3), 417–433.