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Regular version of the site

Article

Negation in the complement clauses of fear-verbs

Functions of Language. 2021. Vol. 28. No. 2. P. 121-152.

Complement clauses of verbs of fear often contain expletive negation, which is negative marking without negative meaning. Expletive negation in fear-complements regularly co-occurs with non-indicative moods, such as subjunctive, conjunctive, or conditional. The aim of this paper is to provide a diachronic explanation for the phenomenon of expletive negation in complement clauses of fear-verbs. Based on data from various languages, I will show that cases of expletive negation after verbs of fear can be divided into several groups, each with a different origin. Fear complement clauses can derive from embedded polar questions, paratactic constructions expressing a wish, or from negative purpose clauses. Complement clauses with polar questions usually contain an indicative verb form, while clauses based on the expression of a wish often have non-indicative verb forms. The paper also discusses cases in which expletive negation is lost.