Query: Negation and case marking

Ljuba Veselinova ljuba at LING.SU.SE
Fri Oct 30 11:03:29 UTC 2009

Hi Matti,

what comes to mind right are all the Oceanic languages I've looked at.
The NP in negated constructions regularly changes over to the
indefinite article or in some cases to the non-specific article. Here
is an example from Samoan

a.	E	iai	le	taàvale	a	Tomi
	GENR	exist	SPEC.ART	car	POSS	Tom
 	‘Tom has a car’

b.	E	leai	se	taàvale	a	Tomi
	GENR	not.exist	INDEF.ART	car	POSS	Tom
	‘Tom does not have a car’

It is my impression that such effects on NPs in negated clauses,
either by case marking, or article change,  or something else are
actually very common. I'm trying to summarize them right now but my
focus is mostly on existentials and I look at predicate possession

Looking forward to your summary.

All the best,


On Fri, Oct 30, 2009 at 11:41 AM, Matti Miestamo
<matti.miestamo at helsinki.fi> wrote:
> Dear Colleagues,
> it is rather well-known that negation affects case marking in some Uralic
> and Indo-European (Slavic, Baltic) languages as well as in Basque. I'm not
> aware of any large-scale typological studies of the interaction of case
> marking and negation and haven't looked at it systematically myself either,
> but having examined other aspects of negation in a large number of
> languages, my impression is that such effects occur quite rarely outside
> Europe. I'm now planning to examine the phenomenon typologically and I'm
> posting this query to get more information on languages where negation
> affects case marking in some ways.
> The following examples illustrate the case alternations in Finnish:
> (1) Finnish (constructed examples)
>  a. söin        banaani-n
>    eat.PST.1SG banana-GEN
>    'I ate a/the banana.'
>  b. söin        banaani-a
>    eat.PST.1SG banana-PART
>    'I {ate some / was eating a/the} banana.'
>  c. en      syönyt       banaani-a
>    NEG.1SG eat.PST.PTCP apple-PART
>    'I didn't eat / wasn't eating a/the banana.'
> In these examples, the object of the affirmative may be either genitive or
> partitive (with meaning distinctions having to do with quantification,
> aspect etc.), but in the negative only the partitive is possible. (The
> situation is actually more complex, and the nominative is used instead of
> the genitive in some environments, but these examples suffice to illustrate
> the phenomenon for the present purposes.) Related case asymmetries between
> affirmatives and negatives are also found in some existential sentences in
> Finnish, where subjects can be either nominative or partitive in the
> affirmative but the negative has to use the partitive.
> Alternations are not restricted to affixal case marking. In French negatives
> the partitive marker de occurs instead of indefinite articles in most
> contexts: Je mange une pomme 'I eat / am eating an apple' / Je ne mange pas
> de pomme 'I do not eat / am not eating an apple'.
> I would be grateful for any pointers to languages where case marking (or the
> marking of nominal participants more broadly) is affected by negation.
> I will post a summary to the list, so you may reply off-list if you like.
> Best wishes,
> Matti
> --
> Matti Miestamo
> <http://www.ling.helsinki.fi/~matmies/>

Ljuba Veselinova
Dept of Linguistics, Stockholm University, S-10691 Stockholm, Sweden
Phone: +46-8-16-2332 Fax: +46-8-15 5389
URL  : http://www.ling.su.se/staff/ljuba/

"We learn by going where we want to go."
                                          Julia Cameron

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