Query on interclausal scope

David Gil gil at EVA.MPG.DE
Thu Dec 1 22:04:16 UTC 2011

Dan and all,

I'm suspect many other LINGTYP readers, and not just me, are not sure 
what you mean by "an S-comp rule".

The colloquial varieties of Indonesian that I am familiar with do not 
have an overt complementizer.  And indeed, if you say something like 
MARY NEG THINK JOHN SMART, this can not usually be taken to mean "Mary 
thinks that John is not smart".  Are you suggesting that these two facts 
are related?

I have argued elsewhere that the Indonesian/English contrast is one 
manifestation of a general tendency for Indonesian to be more iconic, or 
"Behagelian", in its constituency than languages like English.  So I 
would also be very interested to learn how common so-called 
"neg-raising" is cross-linguistically -- with or without a complementizer.


PS rereading your query, I can add that Hebrew works like English.

> I am interested in knowing whether a certain pattern is more or less common. The question is whether languages with an S-comp rule usually have the possibility of negation switching scope across the matrix clause into the subordinate clause. So for example, in English in examples like "Mary doesn't think that John is smart" one meaning of this is that "Mary thinks that John isn't smart." 
> My question is whether English is rare or not. Even in English, the features seems to be limited to epistemic verbs, like "think".
> So do readers of this list know of non-Indo European languages with this type of negative scope possibility? If so, is it limited to specific classes of verbs?
> If you'd rather respond to me off-line, that is fine. I will later post a summary if there are enough answers.
> Thanks,
> Dan

David Gil

Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany

Telephone: 49-341-3550321 Fax: 49-341-3550119
Email: gil at eva.mpg.de
Webpage:  http://www.eva.mpg.de/~gil/

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