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Regular version of the site

Book chapter


С. 1-16.

The paper is a corpus study of pragmatic factors involved in disambiguating
sentences with negation and universal quantifier in written Russian and
English, such as Ja ne pozval vseh svoih dal’nih rodstvennikov, ‘I haven’t invited
all of my distant relatives.’ Ambiguity results from differences in scope.
If negation scopes over the quantifier, we get partial negation: ‘I have invited
some, but not all of my distant relatives.’ If negation scopes over the verb, based on Russian and English data extracted from a variety of corpora.
We demonstrate that despite syntactic differences, Russian and English
rely on similar mechanisms of disambiguation via pragmatic reasoning.
We show that quantifier ‘all’ has different interpretations with verb vs. quantifier
negation: emphatic in the former case and quantificational in the latter.
Contextual markers for each reading are consistent with this difference.
V-negation occurs with demonstrative pronouns, negatively connoted
nouns and temporal modifiers, which add emphasis (I don’t want to talk
to all these idiots; I haven’t eaten all day), while Q-negation occurs in the
context of quantitative verbs that consolidate the interpretation of quantity
(I haven’t listed all the options).
Certain pragmatically plausible readings are lexicalized in patterns,
similar in the two languages and reflecting common background knowledge;
e. g. ne spat’ vsju noch’ and not to sleep all night both mean ‘not
to sleep at all during the night’.
In both languages, Q-negation is more frequent than V-negation because
of its semantic and pragmatic non-markedness. Q-negation is the
default interpretation option which is changed to V-negation in the presence
of V-negation markers. Due to syntax, in English its share is much higher
than in Russian. Finally, we show that language speakers are able to infer
intended scope readings in written language.