The pragmatics of verbal negation in Brazilian Portuguese. Hypothesis testing with corpus data

Luis Filipe Lima Silva, Heliana Mello

Abstract


This paper focuses on testing a pragmatic hypothesis about verbal negation in Brazilian Portuguese (BP). The BP verbal negation system presents three forms, namely: preverbal, double, and postverbal negation. Schwenter (2005) claims that there are constraints in the use of the non-canonical forms, i.e. double and postverbal negations. According to the author, double negation can negate only inferable or directly activated propositions and postverbal negation can negate only directly activated propositions. We tested this hypothesis with data from the C-ORAL-BRASIL reference spontaneous speech corpus of BP (Raso & Mello 2012). The results show that there is a tendency for Schwenter’s hypothesis about double negation to be confirmed, but this is not the case for postverbal negation. The corpus data examined reveal a high proportion of occurrences that do not comply with the proposed hypothesis. Further research is needed to advance the understanding of constraints about the use of the non-canonical forms of negation in BP.

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CHIMERA Romance Corpora and Linguistic Studies

ISSN: 2386-2629