On the subject of negative auxiliary inversion

Frances Blanchette, Chris Collins

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This article presents a novel analysis of Negative Auxiliary Inversion (NAI) constructions such as didn't many people eat, in which a negated auxiliary appears in pre-subject position. NAI, found in varieties including Appalachian, African American, and West Texas English, has a word order identical to a yes/no question, but is pronounced and interpreted as a declarative. We propose that NAI subjects are negative DPs, and that the negation raises from the subject DP to adjoin to Fin (a functional head in the left periphery). Three properties of NAI motivate this analysis: (i) scope freezing effects, (ii) the various possible and impossible NAI subject types, and (iii) the incompatibility of NAI constructions with true Double-Negation interpretations. Implications for theories of Negative Concord, Negative Polarity Items, and the representation of negation are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)32-61
    Number of pages30
    JournalCanadian Journal of Linguistics
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - Mar 1 2019


    • English
    • Negative Auxiliary Inversion
    • Negative Concord
    • negated quantifier phrases
    • quantifier scope freezing

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Language and Linguistics
    • Linguistics and Language


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