Nominal Modification

The Graduate School on Nominal Modification at the University of Frankfurt

Home » James McCloskey (UCSC): Lecture series “On the Expression of Polarity in Natural Language”

James McCloskey (UCSC): Lecture series “On the Expression of Polarity in Natural Language”

Lecture series in three sessions as part of the Graduate School Nominal Modification.

Tuesday 10.07., 10-14, SH 0.108
Wednesday 11.07. 12-16, SH 0.108
Thursday 12.07. 12-16, SH 4.103 (note the room change)

Negation is a much-studied aspect of natural language and as a consequence of that study we have an unusually rich and complete typological map of how negation is expressed in natural language. Matthew Dryer summarizes what is currently known in one remarkable paragraph in one of his contributions to the WALS project:

All of the ways of indicating negation involve negative morphemes. There are no known instances of languages in which negation is realized by a change in word order or by intonation, and all languages have negative morphemes.

The goal of this sequence of lectures will be to better understand this remarkable pair of facts, the contours of variation that they imply (as we currently know them) and most importantly, what implications all of these observations have for theories of the nature of language ability. We will attempt to view some of the history of thinking on these matters in theoretical linguistics (especially in Klima’s seminal early work) and we will then re-think that into a discussion of more contemporary treatments, asking to what extent they help us understand the typological observations.

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