inversion patterns with fronted quantifier phrases

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INVERSION PATTERNS WITH FRONTED QUANTIFIER PHRASES THE INFLUENCE OF (C)OVERT SYNTACTIC NEGATIVE FEATURES Timo Verhulst Stamnummer: 01200994 Promotor: Prof. Dr. Karen De Clercq Masterproef voorgelegd voor het behalen van de graad master in de richting Taal- en Letterkunde: Engels Academiejaar: 2016 2017

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FEATURES
Promotor: Prof. Dr. Karen De Clercq
Masterproef voorgelegd voor het behalen van de graad master in de richting Taal- en Letterkunde: Engels
Academiejaar: 2016 – 2017
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Acknowledgements
First of all, I would like to thank my supervisor, prof. Dr. Karen De Clercq, for the considerable amount of
time she has invested in my research. Her insight and feedback have proven extremely valuable in the
writing process. This work would certainly not have been possible without her guidance.
I would also like to thank my family and friends; especially my parents, who have provided me with
the opportunity to pursue the education that I wanted and have always supported me in every step of the
way, and Elise, who (with my “permission”) forced me to spend numerous hours in the library and, during
the probably one hundred coffee breaks, assured me again and again that we would get there eventually.
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1.1.1 Quantifier classification ......................................................................................................... 4
1.1.2 Negativity tests ...................................................................................................................... 7
1.1.4 Nonmonotonic QPs ............................................................................................................. 10
1.2.1 SAI patterns ......................................................................................................................... 11
Chapter 2 Methodology ....................................................................................................................... 20
3.1 Overview .......................................................................................................................................... 22
3.2.3 Nonmonotonic QPs ............................................................................................................. 29
4.2.1 Anti-additive/antimorphic QPs ............................................................................................ 36
4.2.1.1 [NEG]-feature ...................................................................................................................... 39
4.2.2.1 [NEG]-feature ...................................................................................................................... 43
4.2.3 Nonmonotonic QPs ............................................................................................................. 44
4.2.3.1 [NEG]-feature ...................................................................................................................... 47
4.3 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................ 61
Table 6 Inversion and topicalization structures ................................................................................ 36
Table 7 N-word morphology ............................................................................................................ 39
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Figure 2 Split CP-structure ................................................................................................................ 15
Figure 3 Search entry ......................................................................................................................... 21
Figure 4 Graph overview ................................................................................................................... 24
Figure 5 Results (never) ..................................................................................................................... 26
Figure 6 Results (rarely) .................................................................................................................... 27
Figure 7 Results (seldom) .................................................................................................................. 27
Figure 8 Results (few) ........................................................................................................................ 28
Figure 9 Results (zero) ....................................................................................................................... 28
Figure 10 Results (only) ....................................................................................................................... 29
Figure 11 Focalized anti-additive QP structure (never) ....................................................................... 38
Figure 12 Focalized anti-additive QP structure (nothing).................................................................... 38
Figure 13 Focalized downward entailing QP structure (rarely) .......................................................... 42
Figure 14 Focalized nonmonotonic QP structure (only) ...................................................................... 46
1
Introduction
It is widely accepted that (constituents with) purely negative quantifiers (e.g. no, never and the negative
marker not) give rise to subject-auxiliary inversion when preposed (Biber 2000; Büring 2004; Collins &
Postal 2014; De Clercq et al 2012; Haegeman 2000a, 2000b; Jackendoff 1972; Progovac 2005; Quirk et al
1985). Huddleston et al define these as “absolute negators” (2002: 812). As such, these contain an overt
syntactic negative marker (cf. section 4.2.1.1). As illustrated in (1) – (3), subject-auxiliary inversion (SAI)
occurs in these cases.
(1) a. Not until the next morning did she realise how serious it was.
(2) a. None of them did he find useful.
b. Nowhere does he mention my book.
(3) a. Never had the Cardinal’s policy been more triumphantly vindicated.
b. Nowhere is this so noticeable as in the South of France.
c. In no case can such a course be justified merely by success.
(examples based on Büring 2004: 1)
Negative scalar QPs like few, hardly, rarely, seldom, little, barely, scarcely and the numeral zero
‘normally’ (Quirk et al 1985: 781) give rise to negative inversion when they are in sentence initial position,
as illustrated in (4) – (7). Huddleston et al define these as “approximate negators” (2002: 815-816). These
quantifiers are negative in meaning, but they do not contain a morphological mark of negation. There is
evidence that these do, however, contain a covert syntactic negative feature (cf. section 4.2.2.1).
(4) Rarely had they experienced such a great performance.
(5) Hardly ever had he talked to somebody so enlightened.
(6) Very few people would they admit to their club.
(7) But on zero occasions have I found myself held up, delayed, late to my destination or in any
other way inconvenienced by cyclists on the road.
(Collins and Postal 2014: 138)
In the case of nonmonotonic QPs like only and exactly it is unclear to what extent inversion is
accepted. Some speakers clearly accept it (Collins and Postal 2014: 134), others don’t. Quirk et al (1985:
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781) argue that, even though only is not straightforwardly negative, it is to some extent negative in its
meaning. Only and exactly may occasionally give rise to subject-auxiliary inversion, as illustrated in (8) –
(11). Like negative scalar QPs, nonmonotonic QPs also do not contain a morphological mark of negation.
(8) Only his mother will he obey. (Quirk et al 1985: 781)
(9) Only on Sundays do they eat with their children. (Quirk et al 1985: 781)
(10) Exactly one feature did I notice in the landscape. (Collins & Postal 2014: 138)
(11) In exactly two of these cases did we find traces of the virus. (Büring 2004: 2)
Of the aforementioned forms of ‘negative inversion’ with preposed quantifiers, both purely negative
QPs and negative scalar QPs entail sentential negation. The quantifier phrase (i.e. the negative operator) thus
take sentential scope (Haegeman 2000b: 21; De Clercq et al 2012) and it is argued that the negative feature
in the quantifier is the underlying factor that triggers SAI. In the case of only, it is not sure if negation is the
underlying factor that triggers inversion. There are, however, also cases where negative QPs may be preposed
without triggering subject-auxiliary inversion. In these cases, there is usually no sentential or clausal
negation, but local or constituent negation (De Clercq et al 2012: 11; Horn 1989: 185; Quirk et al 1985: 793).
An example of this is (12), where the paraphrase below shows that the sentence is semantically positive.
Examples (13) – (14), where the same constituent is used, show the contrast between these two types of
negation even more clearly, respectively showing sentential negation and constituent negation. The
paraphrase provided below each example show the difference in meaning.
(12) Not even ten years ago you could see such a film.
[‘You could see such a film as recently as ten years ago.’]
(Quirk et al 1985: 793)
(13) With no clothes is Sue attractive (sentential negation)
[‘There are no clothes in which Sue is attractive’]
(14) With no clothes, Sue is attractive (constituent negation)
[‘While wearing no clothes, Sue is attractive’]
(Horn 1989: 185)
In cases (12) and (14), the quantifier negates a constituent instead of rendering the entire clause negative.
(Biber 2000: 916; Quirk et al 1985: 790). The negation is part of the adverbial only, while the main statement
is affirmative. There is thus, compared to the cases where subject-auxiliary inversion does take place, a scopal
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difference. Some more examples of fronted constituents with narrow scope negation are provided in (15) –
(16).
(15) No doubt he will issue his instructions. (PICT)
(16) Not surprisingly, most studies have concerned themselves with ill effect, notably
that of emotional stress. (ACAD)
(Biber 2000: 916)
The aim of this paper is to investigate inversion patterns with different types of preposed quantifier
phrases. As such, a corpus investigation (in both the BNC and COCA corpora) is set up to uncover the
frequency of use of these inversion patterns with regard to the different types of QPs that are mentioned
above. In addition, from a theoretical point-of-view, we will look at which mechanism(s) trigger(s) this
inversion pattern and what the structure of the sentence looks like. We will argue that there is an overt or
covert negative feature present in purely negative (de Swart 2009; Horn 1989) and negative scalar (De Clercq
2017; Horn 1989; McCawley 1998) QPs which is responsible for the inversion facts. When the QP is
preposed to a focus position, i.e. specifier of FocP, the auxiliary is forced to move leftward to Foc° (i.e. SAI
occurs as it moves to the left of the subject) to satisfy the NEG-criterion (Haegeman 1995; Haegeman and
Zanuttini 2014; cf. section 1.2.2). As such, it is argued that there are two features (i.e. a [NEG]-feature and a
[focus] feature) that the preposed QP has to have to give rise to SAI. In addition to the above negative QPs,
we will argue that, in the case of the nonmonotonic QP only, a (covert) syntactic negative feature is present
as well, even though only is not straightforwardly negative. When an only-phrase is thus preposed to
SpecFocP, it can also give rise to SAI to satisfy the NEG-criterion in the same way as negative scalar QPs.
After an overview of the theoretical background (section 1), which includes a classification of the
different quantifiers and some general background on negative contexts (section 1.1), the theoretical
framework with regard to inversion is provided (section 1.2). As the analysis will be held against the
background of Generative Grammar (GG), some information about SAI patterns in this tradition is provided,
as well as the specifics of the WH-/NEG-criterion which can be satisfied by the occurrence of these SAI
patterns (Haegeman and Zanuttini 2014; Haegeman 2000a; 2000b; Rizzi 1997). Lastly, the Topic - Focus
distinction is discussed more in-depth (Büring 2004; Haegeman 2000b; Kang 2014: Rizzi 1997) as this will
be a crucial ingredient in the analysis. In section 2 we discuss the methodology and then in section 3 we
present the results of the corpus research. The results include both a general overview and a brief discussion
of specific quantifier-auxiliary combinations. Section 4 discusses a possible analysis of the data, drawing on
the split CP framework, the Topic-Focus distinction, the NEG-criterion and the presence of a covert negative
feature in nonmonotonic QPs like only. Finally, I conclude.
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Chapter 1 Theoretical background
The theoretical background consists of two main parts. Initially, the different types of quantifiers and the
contexts of negativity these are associated with are discussed, as well as some tests for negativity (section
1.1). Section 1.2 focusses on inversion patterns in Generative Grammar, discussing both what these
patterns look like, as well as what the criteria for the occurrence of these patterns are.
1.1. Quantifiers and negativity
As subject-auxiliary inversion with preposed quantifier phrases is very likely a negation related
phenomenon, it is important to distinguish between different types and strengths of negation as well. After
a more in-depth overview of the different types of quantifiers and the different contexts of negation these
are associated with (section 1.1.1), some tests for negativity are provided to be able to distinguish which
constructions are affirmative and which are negative (section 1.1.2), followed by a syntactic hierarchy of
negation (section 1.1.3). Lastly, a brief preliminary discussion of nonmonotonic QPs and their possibility of
triggering subject-auxiliary inversion and licensing weak NPIs is provided (section 1.1.4).
1.1.1. Quantifier classification
Although different types of quantifiers have already been mentioned above in the introduction, it is important
to clearly delineate what a quantifier is, which different categories of quantifiers there are, and what
determines the category of a certain quantifier.
Quantifiers are determiners which specify the number or amount of entities referred to, as in (17),
although many can also be used as pronouns (18), and some even as adverbs (19) (Biber 2000: 71).
(17) He kept whistling at all the girls.
(18) Is that all I’ve got dad?
(19) Don’t get all mucky.
(Biber 2000: 71)
The semantic literature on quantifiers divides them into three groups. The first group are positive
scalar quantifiers (Horn 1989: 248), also called upward entailing (UE) or monotone increasing (Peters &
Westerståhl 2006: 164-165) quantifiers. These quantifiers (e.g. one, many, some, often, either, always)
denote a monotone increasing function (Barwise & Cooper 1981), which means that there is an upward or
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increasing entailment relation. This is illustrated by the pair in (20) – (21): the expression in (20) entails the
expression in (21). As some men walk slowly, it is clear that this entails that some men walk. The entailment
thus goes from the subset (the group of slow walkers) to the superset (the group of walkers), i.e. is upward
or increasing. Positive scalar quantifiers are not the topic of this master thesis, so we will not elaborate on
them further.
(20) Some men walk slowly (i.e. subset of slow walkers)
(21) Some men walk (i.e. superset of walkers)
(Ladusaw 1979: 115)
The second group of quantifiers are negative (scalar) quantifiers. These include quantifiers such as
never and rarely. Of these two negative quantifiers, however, the former intuitively feels like a stronger
negative than the latter. This leads us to believe that not all negatives can be seen as equal because of possible
different strengths of negativity. As such, subcategories have to be made on the basis of their (degree of)
negativity. As negation is most likely the underlying factor in (negative) inversion, the difference in strength
between the different quantifiers might also influence the possibility of inversion in constructions in which
these are used. As such, Van der Wouden (1997) poses the question of what it is that constitutes a negative
context (i.e. a context where negative polarity items can be licensed). There must be some properties that
negative contexts have in common that play a role in polarity licensing. After discussing these different
properties, Van der Wouden constructs a ‘natural hierarchical typology of negative contexts’.
Van der Wouden (1997) makes a distinction between four types of negative contexts or expressions,
with differing degrees of negativity. These are (from the weakest to the strongest forms of negation):
monotone decreasing contexts (e.g. few, seldom, hardly), antimultiplicative contexts (e.g. not every, not
always) and anti-additive contexts (e.g. nobody, never, nothing), and lastly antimorphic contexts (e.g. not,
not the teacher, not Judas). The stronger forms of negation always entail the weaker form(s), while the
reverse is not true. Antimorphic, antimultiplicative and anti-additive contexts are thus also monotone
decreasing.
All negative contexts can license negative polarity items (NPIs), but NPIs do not necessarily show
the same behavior in the different negative contexts (Van der Wouden 1997: 112). Examples of the NPI any
are provided in (22) – (23).
(22) John didn’t talk to anybody.
(23) Nobody said anything.
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As such, he also devises a typology of polarity items based on their distribution amongst the different types
of negative contexts. A distinction is made between negative polarity items of three different strengths: weak
NPIs, medium strength NPIs, and strong NPIs. Weak NPIs can occur in all monotone decreasing contexts;
NPIs of medium strength can occur in anti-additive contexts, but not in merely downward monotonic
contexts; Strong NPIs can only be licensed in antimorphic contexts (Van der Wouden 1997: 130). Zwarts
(1998: 233) makes the same distinction with regard to NPI licensing in the different contexts, although he
subdivides NPIs into weak, strong and superstrong (respectively weak, medium strength and strong in Van
der Wouden) types. The licensing of certain NPIs can thus also help test and possibly confirm the (degree
of) negativity of certain constructions.
Negative (scalar) quantifiers are thus all at least downward entailing (DE) (Ladusaw 1979: 112-113)
or monotone decreasing (Peters & Westerståhl 2006: 165) quantifiers and will henceforth be referred to as
downward entailing (DE) quantifiers. These quantifiers (e.g. no, few, seldom, little, barely and zero) denote
a monotone decreasing function, which means that there is a downward or decreasing entailment relation.
This can be seen by expression (24) entailing both expression (25) and (26). As no men walk, it is clear that
this entails that no men walk slowly and no men walk quickly. The entailment goes from the superset to the
subsets and is thus downward or decreasing.
(24) No men walk (i.e. superset of walkers)
(25) No men walk slowly (i.e. subset of slow walkers)
(26) No men walk quickly (i.e. subset of fast walkers)
Within the group of downward entailing quantifiers, however, there is a subset of purely negative
quantifiers. These consist of strong or anti-additive quantifiers (e.g. never, nobody, no) and even superstrong
or antimorphic quantifiers (Zwarts 1998; e.g. the negative marker not), which are considered as “stronger”
negatives than those that are merely downward entailing. These will henceforth be referred to as anti-
additive/antimorphic quantifiers. Quirk et al (1985: 778-780) define these negative adverbials as negative in
both form (i.e. they contain a morphological mark of negation) and meaning, while the “weaker” downward
entailing quantifiers are defined as negative in meaning but not in form. As McCawley (1998: 608) notes, in
the case of rarely, something negative (i.e. not often) is conveyed, but it does not, however, contain an overt
“standard morphological mark of negation”.
A special case here is the numeral zero. Gajewski (2011) poses the problem of the semantic
equivalence of no and (exactly) zero. Although this equivalence is present, only no licenses strong NPIs.
Bylinina (2017: 3) states that a possible explanation for this is that the grammar does not have access to the
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‘mathematical content’ of numerals (including zero). Because of this, zero might not be able to license strong
NPIs like either, while no does have that ability, as in (27).
(27) No/*Zero students like semantics, either.
(example based on Bylinina 2017: 1)
In addition, zero cannot occur with a ‘negative appositive tag’ (Klima 1964; cf. section 1.1.2), as seen in (28).
(28) She drank no/*zero martinis, not even weak ones.
(example based on Postal 2004: 167)
As zero is clearly not the same as the anti-additive quantifier no in its behavior, it will be categorized as a
downward entailing quantifier for the purpose of this research.
The last group of quantifiers consists of nonscalar quantifiers, also called nonmonotonic quantifiers.
These quantifiers (e.g. only, exactly) denote nonmonotonic or nonscalar functions, as there is no upward or
downward entailing relationship. A sentence such as (29) does not entail any subsets or supersets. These will
be referred to as nonmonotonic quantifier phrases from here on.
(29) Only men walk.
(30) Only men walk slowly.
(31) Only men walk quickly.
Subsets such as in (30) – (31) are not automatically entailed, as in that case an assumption would have to be
made regarding the pace of their walking. Such an assumption is not readily available.
1.1.2. Negativity tests
As inversion is most likely a negation related phenomenon, it is important to be able to distinguish exactly
which constructions are affirmative and which are negative. In his work ‘The syntactic phenomena of
English’, McCawley (1998: 604-612) discusses some tests for negativity proposed by Klima (1964). These
tests were designed to investigate the status of a sentence as affirmative or negative.
The first test, applicable to the simplest cases, pertains to the use of too and either, as the acceptability
of too or either appears to correlate with the sentence being respectively affirmative, as in (32), or negative,
as in (33) (McCawley 1998: 604-608).
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(32) John voted for Bergland, and Mary voted for him too/*either
(33) John didn’t vote for Reagan, and Mary didn’t vote for him either/*too
The second test consists of the possibility of using so or neither in an inverted reduced sentence, the
interpretation of which is based on the given sentence. In the case of an affirmative sentence, this is only
possible with so, as in (34), while in the case of a negative sentence, this is only possible with neither, as in
(35) (McCawley 1998: 608-611).
(34) John voted for Stassen, and so/*neither did Mary.
(35) John didn’t vote for Stassen, and neither/*so did Mary.
The third test consists of the use of tag questions (Brasoveanu et al 2014, Klima 1964). A distinction
has to be made between reversal tags (McCawley 1998: 611-612), as illustrated in (36), and reduplicative
tags, as illustrated in (37). Reduplicative tags indicate an affirmative sentence; reversal tags indicate either
an affirmative sentence (36a) or a negative sentence (36b). Sentences of the former type (36a) anchor a
negative question tag; sentences of the latter type (36b) anchor a positive question tag.
(36) a. Anne left, didn’t she? REV tag
b. Anne didn’t leave, did she? REV tag
(37) Anne left, did she? RED tag
(Brasoveanu et al 2014: 175)
The last test discussed by McCawley (1998: 612) is the possibility of the addition of a “negative
appositive tag” (Klima 1964: 262-263), which consists of ‘not even X’, with X matching a “special case” of
a constituent of the host sentence. Some examples are provided in (38) – (39).
(38) The writer will never accept suggestions, not even reasonable ones.
(39) *The publisher often disregards suggestions, not even reasonable ones.
(McCawley 1998: 612)
If the addition of a “negative appositive tag” is possible, as in (38), it means that the host sentence is negative
in some sense. In the case of (39), this addition is not possible and the host sentence is thus affirmative.
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1.1.3. Syntactic hierarchy of negation
A type of hierarchy of negative contexts has already been established, but this is not the only thing that
influences the negativity of a sentence. Placing negative constituents in different syntactic positions also
seems to influence the negativity of the sentences.
Brasoveanu et al (2014) quantify the negativity of sentences with different types of negative
operators in different syntactic positions. A distinction is made between n-words (e.g. never, nobody) and
downward entailing items (e.g. rarely, few) for the negative operators. The different syntactic positions in
which these are placed are adverb position, subject position, and direct object position. Comparing the
classification of n-words and DE-items to Van der Wouden’s classification of negative expressions, it is clear
that n-words (as adverb, subject, or direct object) are anti-additive expressions and thus anti-
additive/antimorphic quantifiers, while DE-items (also as adverb, subject, or direct object) are clearly only
downward entailing expressions and thus downward entailing quantifiers. Combining these two types of
negative constituents with the three different syntactic positions, sentences were constructed. The negativity
of these sentences was then tested by using these sentences as anchors for question tags. Participants had to
choose between either a positive or a negative reversal tag (cf. section 1.1.2); the former indicating a negative
sentence and the latter indicating an affirmative sentence. The negativity was then measured according to the
proportion of positive responses. The findings of Brasoveanu et al result in the hierarchy of sentential
negativity seen in (40).
(Brasoveanu et al 2014: 183)
Both a semantic hierarchy of negativity and a syntactic hierarchy of negativity can be derived from this.
The former entails that all n-words are more negative than DE-items; this is in accordance with the degrees
of negativity assigned to anti-additive/antimorphic and downward entailing contexts by Van der Wouden.
The latter entails that adverbs and subjects are more negative than direct objects. Of these two hierarchies,
the semantic hierarchy is the most dominant, as any n-word in direct object position is more negative than
any DE-item in adverb or subject position.
When applying this hierarchy to quantifiers, one could propose a hierarchy of quantifier negativity,
illustrated in (41), based on the contexts they can occur in.
(41) {AA/AM Qs: ADV/SUBJ} >> {AA/AM Qs: OBJ}
>> {DE Qs: ADV/SUBJ) >> {DE Qs: OBJ}
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A semantic hierarchy applies here as well, the anti-additive (AA) and antimorphic (AM) quantifiers being
stronger negatives than downward entailling quantifiers (DE) in all cases. Within that semantic hierarchy
then one can subordinate the syntactic hierarchy, with quantifiers functioning as adverbs (ADV) or as subjects
(SUBJ) forming stronger negatives than quantifiers functioning as objects (OBJ).
A question that remains to be answered, however, is to what extent nonmonotonic quantifiers have
the possibility of triggering inversion and/or licensing items typically associated with negative contexts, such
as negative polarity items.
1.1.4. Nonmonotonic QPs
The question remains how non-monotonic quantifiers like only and exactly can be to some extent negative
and have the ability of triggering subject-auxiliary inversion.
Nishiguchi (2003: 208) notes that non-monotonic items can trigger weak NPIs such as any and ever,
even though they do not even fit the weakest category of negative contexts (i.e. downward entailment). Some
examples of this are provided in (42) – (45).
(42) Only Mary showed any respect for the visitors.
(43) Only to his girlfriend did John give any flowers.
(44) Only last year did John get any grey hairs.
(Progovac 2005: 73)
(Nishiguchi 2003: 205)
The solution he proposes entails the notion of ‘anti-UEness (Upward Entailingness, i.e. DE plus NM) and an
exclusivity condition for non-monotonic NPI licensers (Nishiguchi 2003). The concept of ‘anti-UEness’
would in this case replace ‘DE-ness’ as a description of NPI licensers. The exclusivity condition pertains to
non-monotonic operators that share the assertion ‘no other than x is y’ and it refers to the exclusivity of the
constituent that is being focalized by the nonmonotonic quantifier, as the expression entails that no other
alternatives than that which is focalized are true. Similar to monotone decreasing contexts, a “negative-like
meaning”, instead of the negation morpheme not could serve to condition the occurrence of polarity items
(Peters & Westerståhl 2006: 199) and possibly negative inversion. Non-monotonic contexts that meet
exclusivity condition can thus license weak NPIs (Nishiguchi 2003: 213).
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1.2. Inversion in Generative Grammar
The analysis will be held against the background of the generative tradition. As such, a brief discussion of
subject-auxiliary inversion patterns in Generative Grammar (GG) is provided, followed by the specifics of
the WH- and NEG-criterion, of which the latter is assumed to trigger the subject-auxiliary inversion patterns
when negative QPs are preposed. Lastly, Rizzi’s (1997) split CP is elaborated on, as well as a more in-depth
discussion of the Topic-Focus distinction.
1.2.1. SAI patterns
Within generative syntax, SAI patterns are considered a leftward displacement of the auxiliary (or tense).
Whilst the subject is in SpecTP, the content of T (e.g. the auxiliary) moves leftward to a head position to the
left of the subject in CP. SAI takes place in yes/no-questions, wh-questions (46) and cases of negative
inversion (47) (Haegeman 2006: 313-330), such as those discussed in the introduction. As we discussed
before, there is also inversion in constructions with preposed only-phrases (48). A representation of the tree
structure of examples (46) – (48) is provided in Figure 1 on the next page. Do note, however, that Figure 1
presents a mono-layered CP; the split CP (Rizzi 1997) will be discussed in section 1.2.3 and will from then
on serve as the framework for our analysis.
(46) Which letter could John write today?
(47) No letter could John write today.
(48) Only one letter could John write today.
(Veselovská 2011: 5)
SAI is thus triggered by a preposed interrogative (e.g. which) or negative constituent (e.g. no letter). This is
due to respectively the WH-criterion and the NEG-criterion (cf. section 1.2.2) (Haegeman 2000a: 121-122).
In addition, constituents with only (e.g. only one letter) are also capable of triggering SAI even though they
are not straightforwardly negative.
Figure 1. SAI patterns in GG (Veselovksá 2011: 5)
1.2.2. WH-/NEG-criterion
The WH- and NEG-criterion are instantiations of the AFFECT-criterion (Haegeman 1995: 93). AFFECT
refers to “the feature that all triggers, i.e. all contexts that license NPIs, (are supposed to) have in common”
(Van der Wouden 1997: 83). The AFFECT-criterion states that affective elements (Klima 1964), such as a
[WH]-element or a [NEG]-element, are subject to a licensing requirement in terms of Spec-head agreement
(Haegeman 1995: 93; Rizzi 1996). The AFFECT-criterion is presented in (49).
(49) The AFFECT-criterion
(a) An AFFECTIVE operator must be in a Spec-Head configuration with an [AFFECTIVE] X°
(b) An [AFFECTIVE] X° must be in a Spec-Head configuration with a AFFECTIVE operator
(Haegeman 1995: 93)
The WH- and NEG-criterion, which are specific instantiations of the AFFECT-criterion, are presented in
(50) – (51):
(50) The WH-criterion
(c) A WH-operator must be in a Spec-Head configuration with an X-[WH]
(d) An X-[WH] must be in a Spec-Head configuration with a WH-operator
(May 1985; Rizzi 1996; Haegeman 1995: 94)
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(51) The NEG-criterion
(a) A NEG-operator must be in a Spec-Head configuration with an X-[NEG]
(b) An X-[NEG] must be in a Spec-Head configuration with a NEG-operator
(Haegeman and Zanuttini 2014; Haegeman 1995: 106)
In examples (46) – (47), the wh-phrase and the negative constituent trigger subject-auxiliary inversion due to
the need to get into a spec-head configuration with respectively an X-[WH] and an X-[NEG] (i.e. a head that
carries a [WH] / [NEG] feature). In both cases, the auxiliary has moved to the head position C°, which
suggests that the inverted auxiliary (or inflectional head) is capable of carrying an interrogative feature [WH]
or a negative feature [NEG]. The current literature argues that the [WH]- and [NEG]-features are associated
with an inflectional head; more specifically with T in a split-Infl approach (Haegeman 1995: 94; Rizzi 1990:
17-18). Lasnik (1972) also associates the [WH]- and [NEG]-features with auxiliaries (i.e. I, or T and Agr).
As such, it will from now on be assumed that auxiliaries in interrogative and negative constructions carry a
respectively interrogative or negative feature. In the case of (46), the [WH]-feature is thus on T° (i.e. the
auxiliary). As the WH-operator has moved to SpecCP, the tensed auxiliary, which carries the matching [WH]-
feature, moves leftward from T° to C° to enable the spec-head configuration with the preposed constituent.
Similarly, the NEG-criterion may lead to operator movement in cases where the preposed negative
constituent (i.e. a constituent that contains a [NEG]-feature) takes sentential scope, causing the auxiliary to
move to C° as well, as it carries the matching [NEG]-feature. An example of this is (47). Do note, however,
that the NEG-criterion is not exclusive to inversion contexts.
The preposing of negative constituents that give rise to SAI is assumed to be triggered due to a [focus]
feature associated with the negative constituent; this [focus] feature could thus be a common feature of
preposed constituents that trigger inversion. Do note, however, that focalization itself (e.g. of a constituent
without a [NEG]-feature which would triggers the NEG-criterion) is not a sufficient condition for SAI to
occur (Haegeman 2000a: 126).
In Figure 1 (cf. supra), the application of these criteria is illustrated for both the NEG- and the WH-
criterion. An interrogative (i.e. which letter) or negative (i.e. no letter) constituent from within the VP is
preposed to the specifier position of CP; due to the respectively [WH] and [NEG]-feature they carry, they
require a spec-head configuration with a head carrying the matching feature (i.e. the WH-/NEG-criterion
applies) whereby the auxiliary (a head which carries the matching feature) moves from T° to C°. As such,
the auxiliary moves to the left of the subject (which is in SpecTP) and subject-auxiliary inversion occurs.
The spec-head configuration thus entails that the interrogative or negative constituent is in SpecCP, while
the auxiliary (i.e. the head) is in C°. The NEG-criterion will play an important role in the analysis of the data
from the corpus research.
As similar-looking preposed constituents can sometimes occur (in separate sentences; with different
meanings) with (52) and without (53) subject-auxiliary inversion (i.e. sentential vs. constituent negation), it
must be that these constituents are somehow different. However, if one adopts a mono-layered CP, as has
been done above, both can only target SpecCP and hence it cannot be explained why the two constituents in
(52) – (53) behave differently with respect to SAI. Rizzi’s (1997) split CP on the other hand allows us to
account for the differences between these constituents, as well as the co-occurrence of these constituents in
constructions with multiple preposed constituents, as in (54).
(52) With no job would she be happy.
(53) With no job, she would be happy.
(Haegeman 2000b: 31)
(54) [During the holidays] [on no account] will I do that.
(Haegeman 2000b: 46)
Rizzi (1997) decomposes the CP projection into multiple functional projections; it minimally
decomposes into ForceP and FinP. ForceP encodes the illocutionary force of the clause; Fin° is endowed
with the feature for (non-)finiteness. The split CP may also include a FocP projection, which hosts the
focalized constituent in its specifier position and a [focus] feature as its head. In addition, there is a (recursive)
TopP, which hosts the fronted topic in its specifier position and hosts a [topic] feature as its head (Haegeman
2000a: 128-129). The structure of the split CP is presented in Figure 2. As it is assumed that a [focus] feature
is present in preposed negative constituents that trigger SAI (Haegeman 2000a: 126), it will henceforth be
assumed that only constituents that go into SpecFocP can trigger SAI, while those that go into SpecTopP
cannot trigger SAI.
Figure 2. Split CP-structure (Rizzi 1997)
In assigning the preposed constituents to the specifier position of either FocP or TopP, a distinction
has to be made between topic and focus. The most important distinction is that while focus is quantificational,
topic is not. Focus constituents thus work as operators and bind a variable. This means that they work as
syntactic operators. Topic constituents, on the other hand, do not work as syntactic operators (Isac 2004: 127;
cf. section 1.2.4). The same constituent (e.g. your book) can in some cases serve as either a focus or a topic
(but not in the same sentence), as represented respectively in (55) – (56). When “your book” is focalized, as
in (55), the focus is “your book”, about which something is then said. As “your book” is not a negative
constituent, the NEG-criterion does not apply in this case and SAI does not occur. When “your book” is
topicalized, as in (56), the focus lies elsewhere (i.e. “to Paul”).
(55) YOUR BOOK you should give t to Paul (not mine)
(56) Your book, you should give t to Paul (not to Bill)
(Rizzi 1997: 285)
Rizzi (1997: 285) notes that in focalization, as in (55), the preposed element “bearing focal stress, introduces
new information”. In topicalization, as in (56), the topic is “characteristically set off from the rest of the
16
clause by ‘comma intonation’ and normally expressing old information” (1997: 285) which is salient in
previous discourse. The differences between focus and topic are discussed more in-depth in section 1.2.4.
Wh-phrases and focalized negative constituents are in complementary distribution, as seen in (57) –
(58). As they are both focalized constituents, they thus target the same projection (i.e. FocP) (Haegeman
2000a: 133-134).
(Haegeman 2000a: 134)
Haegeman (2000b: 27) notes that “in root clauses, negative inversion is compatible with the
preposing of adverbial or argumental topics”. The topicalized constituent is, however, required to precede
the focalized constituent, as seen in (59) – (60). This is also possible with wh-inversion, as in (61).
(59) During my sabbatical, on no account will I read e-mail.
(60) *On no account during my sabbatical will I read e-mail.
(61) With no job, where can we go?
(Haegeman 2000b: 27)
The Topic-Focus distinction and its effect on subject-auxiliary inversion is elaborated on in section
1.2.4, including some tests to determine if a constituent is a topic or a focus.
1.2.4. Topic – Focus distinction
It is not the case that a (preposed) constituent that contains a negative feature necessarily functions as either
a topic or a focus exclusively. It is certainly possible for such a constituent to function as either a topic or a
focus, although in separate constructions with or without inversion; this also entails semantic differences
(Haegeman 2000b: 31). An example of this is the constituent “with no job” which is focalized in (52), but
topicalized in (53). Such a constituent is thus ambiguous.
A very general view on the Topic – Focus distinction is that topic is what a sentence is about, while
focus is what is said about the topic (Kang 2014: 236-237). A first distinction can thus be made on the basis
of information structure. Kang notes that “topic is taken to be presupposed in a pragmatically structured
proposition, thereby carrying old information”, while “focus is taken to constitute an unpredictable part of
the proposition, consequently carrying new information” (2014: 236-237; Rizzi 1997: 285; Veselovská 2011:
7).
17
A second distinction is noted by Rizzi (1997: 291-295; Isac 2004: 127), namely that focus is
quantificational, while topic is not. This means that focus acts as a syntactic operator and binds a (syntactic)
variable, as in (62), where “your book” functions as direct object and binds to the verb. Topics, on the other
hand, do not act as syntactic operators and do not relate to a syntactic variable in the sentence, as in (63), “in
which potential bindees are the clitic and its trace, neither of which qualifies as a syntactic variable” (Rizzi
1997: 292).
(62) IL TUO LIBRO ho comprato t (non il suo)
“YOUR BOOK I bought (not his)”
(63) Il tuo libro, lo ho comprato
“Your book, I bought it”
(Rizzi 1997: 289-90)
A third distinction is based on their intonational properties (usually reflected in punctuation).
Topicalization shows an intonational phrase break, while focalization does not tolerate that separation
(Büring 2004: 2). Some examples of this are provided in (64) – (65), in which “%” indicates the intonational
break.
b. Somewhere % he mentions my book.
c. ?*Nowhere % does he mention my book
(65) a. In no case can such a course be justified merely by success.
b. In some cases % such a course can be justified merely by success
c. ?* In no case % can such a course be justified merely by success.
(Büring 2004: 3)
topicalization. As such, the following tests for sentential negation (the absence of which indicates constituent
negation in the following examples) could coincide with tests to distinguish if a constituent is either a focus
or a topic. The first tests consists in the use of the neither-tag. Sentences with a preposed negative constituent
that takes sentential scope admit this kind of tag, as in (66), while those that take constituent scope do not, as
in (67).
18
(66) Not often does Jack attend parties and neither does Jill.
(67) *Not long ago, Jack attended a party and neither did Jill.
(Haegeman 2000b; based on Rudanko 1980: 310)
A similar test involves the use of reversal question tags (Haegeman 2000b: 32). In this case, questions
with a focalized negative constituent should anchor a positive question tag, as in (68), while those with a
topicalized negative constituent should anchor a negative question tag, as in (69).
(68) Not often does Jack attend parties, does he?/*doesn’t he?
(69) Not long ago Jack attended a party, didn’t he?*did he?
(Haegeman 2000b; based on Rudanko 1980: 310)
A third test is based on the polarity licensing of these constituents. Focalized negative constituents
should thus be able to license NPIs both inside the preposed PP (70a) as well as the rest of the sentence (70b),
as these have sentential scope. Topicalized negative constituents should only be able to license NPIs within
the preposed PP (71a) but not in the rest of the sentence (71b) (Haegeman 2000b: 32).
(70) a. With no job of any kind would she be happy.
b. With no job would she ever be happy.
(71) a. With no job of any kind, she would be perfectly happy.
b. *With no job, she would ever be happy
(Haegeman 2000b: 32)
The above tests, however, all rely on the hypothesis that focalization (of a negative constituent)
entails sentential negation and that topicalization (of a negative constituent) entails constituent negation. As
such, some independent tests are provided below. The first test entails that a topic can involve a resumptive
clitic within the comment; which is obligatory if the topicalized constituent is the direct object (72). Focalized
constituents cannot occur with a resumptive clitic (73) (Haegeman 2000b: 35; Rizzi 1997: 289).
(72) Il tuo libro, lo ho comprato
“Your book, I bought it.” [topicalization]
(73) IL TUO LIBRO ho comprato t (non il suo)
“YOUR BOOK, I bought (not his)” [focalization]
(Rizzi 1997: 289-290)
19
Secondly, bare quantifiers such as everything and no one cannot serve as a topic (74a) but only as a
focus (74b), as these inherently require an operator-variable relation (Haegeman 2000b: 35; Rizzi 1997: 290).
Similarly, negative DPs also inherently have operator status and must bind a variable (75a); they are thus
incompatible with topicalization (75b) (Haegeman 2000b: 37).
(74) a. *Nessuno, lo ho visto
“No one, I saw him”
b. NESSUNO ho visto t
“NO ONE I saw”
b. *No job, she would be happy with.
(Haegeman 2000b: 37)
A third test is based on the complementary distribution of wh-phrases and focalized negative
constituents. Wh-operators in main questions are thus only compatible with a topic (76) and not with a focus
(77).
(77) a. *Where on no account should I go?
b. *On no account where should I go
(Haegeman 2000b: 27)
Chapter 2 Methodology
The corpora used are the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA) and the British National
Corpus (BNC). COCA is the largest corpus of American English currently available and is composed of more
than 450 million words from more than 160,000 texts from a variety of sources (spoken, fiction, popular
magazines, newspapers, academic journals) dating from 1990 to 2015. BNC is a synchronic corpus (i.e.
language use from the late 20th century) composed of 100 million words, of which 90% is written language
use (i.e. newspapers, journals, (non-)fiction books and other published materials) and the remaining 10% is
spoken language use. These corpora are freely available online and are both used as there is no focus on the
specifics of American or British English.
For our research, we have investigated the number of occurrences of inversion for each type of
(preposed) quantifier phrase (i.e. anti-additive and antimorphic QPs; downward entailing QPs; nonmonotonic
QPs) in both the BNC & COCA corpora. In order to somewhat enable searches that present a limited amount
of useful results, we have used constructions in which the subject that is part of the subject-auxiliary inversion
is a personal pronoun (using the _pp* tag incorporated in both corpora). This also limited the amount of
manual filtering that needed to be done. As subject-auxiliary inversion (SAI) is expected in the case of anti-
additive/antimorphic QPs, only two anti-additive/antimorphic QPs have been researched. In the case of
downward entailing QPs, four QPs have been researched. Lastly, for nonmonotonic QPs, only and exactly
have been researched. All of the selected QPs are presented in Table 1:
Anti-additive/antimorphic QPs Downward entailing QPs Nonmonotonic QPs
Never Rarely Seldom Only
Nothing Few Zero Exactly
Table 1. QPs
The above QPs were then to be combined with the different auxiliaries, of which all modals are
grouped together in both corpora. The specific search tags provided (in both corpora) for each (type of)
auxiliary are presented in Table 2:
To have To do To be Modals
_vh* _vd* _vb* _vm*
Table 2. Auxiliary tags
21
All quantifier phrases thus needed to be combined with all (types of) auxiliaries, immediately
followed by a personal pronoun. This was done using the “collocates” search function, in which each
quantifier phrase is entered as a collocate that precedes (up to 4 words) a combination of a given auxiliary
(using the tags presented in Table 3), immediately followed by a personal pronoun (using the _pp* tag). This
should provide us with most of the cases of subject-auxiliary inversion with a personal pronoun as the subject.
A generic example of the search entry is presented in Figure 3 below.
Figure 3. Search entry
The results obtained from these searches were then filtered manually to include only the relevant
ones. Cases of “not only” are not counted in the case of “only”, because “not”, which is antimorphic, modifies
the QP and most likely already accounts for the inversion that takes place; cases of interrogatives are not
counted as well, as wh-phrases also influence subject-auxiliary inversion. This is done for up to 500 results
(in each corpus) for each quantifier-auxiliary combination, as in most cases the later results were not relevant
for this research (i.e. they were not cases of subject-auxiliary inversion with a preposed quantifier phrase).
Note that the results should be considered as close estimates to account for any possible human error.
In COCA, all combinations with the auxiliary “to be” result in an error (i.e. “All of the “slots” in
your multi-word search string occur more than 40,000,000 times in the corpus”). In these cases, instead of
using the _pp* tag, each subject personal pronoun was entered separately (i.e. I, you, he, she, it, we, they). In
these cases, more than 500 results in total were analyzed for each quantifier phrase, although these did not
skew the results.
Chapter 3 Results and discussion
In chapter 3, the results are provided. After a general overview of these in section 3.1, which includes a
general discussion and mention of some limitations of the corpus research, specific quantifier-auxiliary
combinations are discussed in section 3.2. A conclusion as to the frequency of inversion patterns is provided
in section 3.3.
3.1. Overview
Tables 3 and 4 present, respectively in BNC and COCA, the quantifiers that were researched; the number of
occurrences of each quantifier (in any form or position) in the entire corpus; the total number of results for
each quantifier (with all auxiliaries combined) before filtering (i.e. the limit of 500 cases per quantifier-
auxiliary combination does not apply here); the total number of hits (i.e. cases of subject-auxiliary inversion
with a preposed quantifier phrase); the percentage of hits in relation to the total number of occurrences in the
entire corpus (in any form or position); and the percentage of hits in relation to the total number of results
before filtering.
Never 52,643 867 200 0.38% 23.07%
Nothing 31,971 257 1 0.00% 0.39%
Rarely 4,064 62 37 0.91% 59.68%
Few 42,792 137 2 0.00% 1.46%
Seldom 1,462 18 16 1.09% 88.89%
Zero 2,257 9 0 0.00% 0.00%
Only 146,936 1,982 414 0.28% 20.89%
Exactly 10,188 297 0 0.00% 0.00%
Table 3. BNC results
Never 343,708 3,566 596 0.17% 16.71%
Nothing 164,127 734 4 0.00% 0.54%
Rarely 19,555 407 352 1.80% 86.49%
Few 259,707 649 13 0.01% 2.00%
Seldom 6,009 109 97 1.61% 88.99%
Zero 14,205 64 2 0.01% 3.13%
Only 638,191 9,156 809 0.13% 8.84%
Exactly 72,130 1,725 0 0.00% 0.00%
Table 4. COCA results
Percentagewise, the number of occurrences of subject-auxiliary inversion (in relation to the total
number of occurrences in the entire corpus) is rather insignificant. The percentages range from 0.00% to at
most 1.80%. Likewise, the number of SAI-hits in relation to the total number of results seems to be of little
importance, as the search results also include an arbitrary amount of cases where subject-auxiliary inversion
does not take place. This explains the extreme differences, ranging from 0.00% up to 88.99%. The total
number of occurrences of each quantifier in the entire corpus will, however, allow us to put into perspective
the number of occurrences of subject-auxiliary inversion for each quantifier. A quantifier such as only, which
appears to occur approximately double (in COCA) or even triple (in BNC) the amount of never (the second
most occurring quantifier in both corpora) could result in a higher number of occurrences of subject-auxiliary
inversion. This is indeed the case, as subject-auxiliary inversion with preposed only seems to occur 414 times
in BNC and 809 times in COCA; the highest number of all quantifiers (i.e. total of 1223) in the sample of
both corpora.
Table 5 presents a general overview of the number of cases of subject-auxiliary inversion for each
quantifier-auxiliary combination (in both corpora separately and the combined total). Figure 4 is a graph
representation of these numbers.
BNC
To have 105 0 8 1 6 0 40 0
To do 31 0 15 0 7 0 175 0
To be 13 0 6 1 2 0 46 0
Modals 51 1 8 0 1 0 153 0
Total 200 1 37 2 16 0 414 0
COCA
To have 269 1 52 0 27 2 170 0
To do 32 0 212 8 47 0 146 0
To be 46 1 58 0 13 0 166 0
Modals 249 2 30 5 10 0 327 0
Total 596 4 352 13 97 2 809 0
Total
To have 374 1 60 1 33 2 210 0
To do 63 0 227 8 54 0 321 0
To be 59 1 64 1 15 0 212 0
Modals 300 3 38 5 11 0 480 0
Total 796 5 389 15 113 2 1223 0
Table 5. Overview results
Figure 4. Graph overview
Never
Nothing
Rarely
Few
Seldom
Only
Exactly
Zero
BNC 200 1 37 2 16 414 0 0
COCA 596 4 352 13 97 809 0 2
Cases of inversion
25
In the case of anti-additive quantifiers never and nothing, the expectation was that there would be a
lot of cases of subject-auxiliary inversion, as these occur in strong negative contexts. Based on the syntactic
hierarchy of sentential negativity, the anti-additive quantifier never, in adverb position, would result in more
cases of inversion than the anti-additive quantifier nothing in object position. While never behaves exactly
as expected, resulting in 796 cases of inversion, nothing does not behave as expected, resulting in merely 5
cases of inversion. While nothing does have a lower number of results than never, the number of results is
far too low as nothing is still an anti-additive quantifier. In fact, all downward entailing quantifiers (i.e. rarely,
few, seldom) except for zero, and even the nonmonotonic quantifier only show more cases of subject-auxiliary
inversion.
In the case of the downward entailing quantifiers rarely, few, seldom and zero, the expectation was
that there would be a fair amount of cases of subject-auxiliary inversion, but fewer cases than the anti-additive
quantifiers, as these also occur in negative contexts but constitute weaker negatives than anti-additive
quantifiers. Rarely, few, and seldom result in respectively 389, 15 and 113 cases of subject-auxiliary
inversion. Zero, however, results in only 2 cases of SAI.
In the case of nonmonotonic quantifiers, the expectation was that there would possibly be some cases
of subject-auxiliary inversion, in cases where the assertion is ‘no other than x is y’ (Nishigushi 2003), but
these would be fairly weak negatives as these are ‘negative-like’ and not straightforwardly negative. In the
case of exactly, no cases of inversion where it can be certain that exactly triggers SAI were found, as this
quantifier was only fronted in interrogative constructions, which already account for the inversion pattern. In
the case of only, which, in most cases, asserted ‘no other than x is y’, a surprising 1223 cases of subject-
auxiliary inversion were found, the highest number of results for all quantifiers. While this number is
definitely significant and leads us to believe that subject-auxiliary inversion is generally accepted with
preposed only, it needs to be put into perspective as only occurs the highest number of times in both corpora,
which might account for a relatively higher number of results.
Do note, however, the limitations of this corpus research. These results only account for cases of
subject-auxiliary inversion with personal pronouns in subject position where the quantifier precedes the
auxiliary up to 4 words before it. It is very well possible that any other type of subject might result in more
cases of inversion for any of the quantifiers in question. The relative number of results of all cases is also
influenced by the relative frequency of use of each quantifier (i.e. the total number of occurrences of each
quantifier in any form and position in the entire corpora). It is to be expected that if a certain quantifier (e.g.
rarely) occurs double the amount of another quantifier (in any construction), it would result in more cases of
inversion as well. This might explain the higher number of SAI-hits for only and rarely and the lower number
of SAI-hits with few and zero. This corpus research does, however, give an indication of the relative
distribution of inversion for each type of quantifier.
26
In short, most of the quantifiers behave as expected when looking at their negativity, the anti-additive
quantifier never showing a high amount of cases of inversion, the downward entailing quantifiers rarely, few,
and seldom resulting in a fair amount of cases of inversion, and the non-monotonic quantifier exactly resulting
in no cases of inversion. Some outliers are the anti-additive quantifier nothing, resulting in only 5 cases of
inversion, the downward entailing quantifier zero, resulting in 2 cases of inversion, and the nonmonotonic
only resulting in the highest amount of cases of inversion (i.e. 1223).
3.2. Quantifier-auxiliary combinations
Figures 5 – 10 visually represent (for each separate quantifier) the number of occurrences of subject-auxiliary
inversion with each (type of) auxiliary.
3.2.1. Anti-additive/antimorphic QPs
Figure 5. Results (never)
The anti-additive quantifier never seems to combine mostly with the auxiliary to have and with modals, with
respectively 374 and 300 cases of inversion, compared to 63 cases in combinations with the auxiliary to do
and 59 cases in combinations with the auxiliary to be. In the case of nothing (no graph is provided in this
case), the amount of cases of inversion is too low to make any conclusions.
105
Never
COCA
BNC
27
Rarely
COCA
BNC
Seldom
COCA
BNC
28
Figure 8. Results (few)
Figure 9. Results (zero)
The downward entailing quantifier rarely, which resulted in the highest number of results, combines mostly
with the auxiliary to do (i.e. 227 cases). This is also the case for seldom (i.e. 54 cases). Although few has a
fairly insignificant total number of results, combinations with the auxiliary to do also seem to be most
prevalent (i.e. 8 cases). In the case of zero, only combinations with the auxiliary to have were found.
1 1
Few
COCA
BNC
2
Zero
COCA
BNC
29
Figure 10. Results (only)
The nonmonotonic quantifier only seems to have a fairly equal distribution with all different auxiliaries. The
modals do seem to be an outlier, but this can be explained as the modals are a group of auxiliaries instead of
a single auxiliary. The nonmonotonic quantifier exactly, disregarding the high number of cases where the
interrogative structure triggered subject-auxiliary inversion, resulted in 0 cases of subject-auxiliary inversion.
3.3. Conclusion
Although there seem to be some slight tendencies for specific quantifier types to occur with certain (types
of) auxiliaries (e.g. negative scalar quantifiers occurring the highest number of times with the auxiliary to
do), it appears that for most quantifier phrases that regularly trigger subject-auxiliary inversion, combinations
with all auxiliaries tend to occur. It does not seem that the type of auxiliary has much – if any – effect on
subject-auxiliary inversion.
With regard to the frequency of inversion patterns; it seems that, in addition to anti-
additive/antimorphic QPs and downward entailing QPs, the nonmonotonic QP only consistently (and even
with a higher frequency) triggers subject-auxiliary inversion when preposed. This indicates that only might
carry a [NEG]-feature and thus trigger the NEG-criterion as well.
40
175
46
153
170
146
166
327
0
100
200
300
400
500
600
Only
COCA
BNC
30
Chapter 4 Analysis
Initially, a general overview of how the different quantifiers will be analyzed is presented (section 4.1). This
is followed by the application of the aforementioned analysis to the corpus data (section 4.2).
4.1. General overview
In the corpus data analysis, we will try to account for some cases of SAI that we observed in the corpora by
means of Rizzi’s (1997) split CP framework (Figure 2) and Haegeman’s NEG-criterion (Haegeman 2000b;
Haegeman and Zanuttini 2014). This section will provide a general overview of the analysis for each type of
quantifier; this analysis will then be elaborated on and applied to the corpus data in section 4.2.
If a (negative) quantifier phrase gives rise to subject-auxiliary inversion (and there is thus sentential
negation), the fronted QP is a focus constituent and should thus go into the specifier position of FocP. If this
is not the case, the fronted QP is a topic constituent and should thus go into the specifier position of TopP.
As all cases examined are cases of subject-auxiliary inversion, it is expected that they all go into SpecFocP.
As such, they should also have the possibility of being preceded by a topic constituent, as in (78).
(78) During my sabbatical, on no account will I read e-mail. (Haegeman 2000b: 27)
As inversion occurs, there must be something in SpecFocP that requires a spec-head configuration with the
auxiliary; if the quantifier phrase in question is thus preceded by a topic constituent, this would imply that
the quantifier phrase is in SpecFocP. If a negative quantifier phrase is in SpecFocP, the NEG-criterion applies,
triggering subject-auxiliary inversion through leftward movement of the auxiliary (i.e. the head which carries
the matching [NEG]-feature) to Foc° to obtain the necessary spec-head configuration.
As the corpus data indicates, (negative) inversion has the capability of occurring with anti-
additive/antimorphic, downward entailing and nonmonotonic quantifier phrases in sentence-initial position.
As such, the specifics of how the NEG-criterion is capable of applying when the QPs in question are focalized
must be examined.
In anti-additive/antimorphic quantifier phrases, it will be argued that the NEG-criterion applies
obligatorily when the QP is situated in the specifier position of FocP. This is because anti-
additive/antimorphic quantifiers, such as never and not, contain a morphological mark of negation which
carries the NEG-feature. Never, for example, is composed of the negative marker not and ever. Besides their
31
semantic negativity, there is thus also an overt syntactic negative marker within the quantifier which triggers
the NEG-criterion (cf. section 4.2.1.1).
Haegeman (2000b: 22) notes that inversion is also known to be triggered by preposed ‘weak
negators’ such as rarely, scarcely, seldom, only, few, etc. This is in accordance with the results of the corpus
investigation. It could thus be argued that these elements are also subject to the NEG-criterion, even though
these, on the surface, do not seem to contain a morphological mark of negation.
In the case of downward entailing quantifier phrases (e.g. rarely, seldom, few), it will be argued that
the NEG-criterion does also apply when the QP is in the specifier position of FocP. Downward entailing QPs,
however, do not contain a morphological mark of negation. Haegeman (2000b: 32) does, however, note that
preposed negative constituents that trigger subject-auxiliary inversion semantically differ from those that do
not trigger inversion in their monotonicity. The former are monotone decreasing (i.e. downward entailing),
while the latter are not. If this is the case, this would explain why downward entailing quantifier phrases,
which are monotone decreasing, also trigger the NEG-criterion. Because of their downward monotonicity,
there might be a covert syntactic negative feature that allows the NEG-criterion to apply in these cases. This
analysis is elaborated on in section 4.2.2.1.
Likewise, even for nonmonotonic quantifier phrases, we argue that the NEG-criterion seems to be
able to apply as well when the QP is focalized to SpecFocP. Like downward entailing quantifiers, these also
do not contain a morphological mark of negation. Unlike downward entailing quantifiers, though, they do
not express a monotone decreasing function.
(79) Only John eats No one but/except John eats.
Example (79), which is similar to Nishiguchi’s (2003) ‘no other than x is y’ assertion, does, however, give
us reason to believe that nonmonotonic QPs are able to express a negative-like meaning, which might indicate
the presence of a covert syntactic negative feature in nonmonotonic quantifier phrases as well. Section 4.2.3.1
provides arguments for the presence of such a covert negative feature. It will thus be argued that besides anti-
additive/antimorphic QPs and downward entailling QPs, the NEG-criterion applies to nonmonotonic QPs as
well.
Besides the application of the NEG-criterion which has been discussed above, an alternative is
provided by Collins & Postal (2014). They propose the general condition for negative inversion presented in
(80), with the definition of SYNNEG in (81). Their definition of SYNNEG seems to be very similar to the
requirements for the application of the NEG-criterion (i.e. a [NEG]-feature within the preposed constituent).
However, the Negative Inversion Condition does allow SAI to occur with preposed constituents which are
not SYNNEG but have a monotone decreasing function. If nonmonotonic QPs thus do not contain a covert
32
syntactic negative feature but are somehow monotone decreasing, the Negative Inversion Condition could
account for the inversion that occurs.
(80) The Negative Inversion Condition
In a structure K = [FocP Q Aux S], where Q is an NI focus,
a. Q is (or dominates) a DP V such that V’s scope position is higher than the position of
any other element of K; and
b. i. V is SYNNEG or
ii. [[V]] is a monotone decreasing function
(Collins & Postal 2014: 140)
(81) Definition: SYNNEG
An XP Z is SYNNEG if and only if there is a unary-NEG structure V = [NEG X] and
i. Z = V, or
(Collins & Postal 2014: 136)
In the above, [[V]] signifies the semantic value of the DP V; S equals TP/IP; and NI stands for Negative
Inversion. Briefly summarized, the Negative Inversion Condition requires that, in a structure with a preposed
quantifier/determiner phrase, the quantifier is or dominates the determiner phrase such that it scopes over all
other elements in the structure K (i.e. sentential scope). This excludes cases of topicalization from fulfilling
the condition. In addition to this, the quantifier/determiner phrase must either have the semantic value of a
monotone decreasing function; or either have, or have a determiner with, a unary-NEG structure. A unary-
NEG structure is different from a binary-NEG structure in that the former involves a single NEG (i.e. [NEG1
X]), while the latter involves two NEGs (i.e. [ NEG1 [NEG2 X]]) (Collins & Postal 2014: 31). An example
of the unary-NEG structure for nobody is provided in (98).
(82) [[NEG1 SOME] body]
The Negative Inversion Condition justifies negative inversion for preposed anti-additive quantifiers
(e.g. never, nobody), as these are both downward monotonic and SYNNEG. Downward entailing quantifiers
are justified as well, as these have a monotone decreasing function, although section 4.2.2.1 elaborates on
current arguments for DE QPs also being SYNNEG. Only-phrases could thus also be justified if they are
somehow monotone decreasing or SYNNEG; this will be elaborated on in section 4.2.3.1.
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Although it is generally the case that all constituents that are SYNNEG are also monotone decreasing,
there are also cases where such constituents are monotone increasing. The Negative Inversion Condition also
accounts for such cases that trigger inversion, as in (83).
(83) No fewer than three gorillas were they able to teach French to.
(Collins & Postal 2014: 135)
‘No fewer than three gorillas’ is SYNNEG because it contains the negative quantifier no; it is, however,
monotone increasing.
A question that remains though, is exactly how forms like only, rarely and few can be covertly NEG
and might thus be SYNNEG. If they are indeed SYNNEG, condition (80)bii could be excluded, which would
render it an entire syntactical account of SAI insofar that it could simply be replaced by the application of
the NEG-criterion. This analyis will be elaborated on in section 4.2. Before that, however, section 4.1.1 will
analyze preposed quantifier phrases that can occur as either a topic or a focus (in different constructions with
different meanings); specifically looking at the difference in structure and meaning.
4.1.1. Ambiguous constituents
Based on some cases where the exact same (negative) constituent can serve as either a topic or a focus, some
conclusions about the structure and meaning of those constituents can be made. Of the following preposed
only-phrases with and without inversion, in (84) – (87), only Quirk et al claim that the non-inverted example
is grammatical. All others consider the non-inverted example as ungrammatical.
(84) Only his mother will he obey.
Only his mother he will obey.
(Quirk et al 1985: 781)
(85) Only George would we invite.
*Only George we would invite.
(Bayer 1996: 14)
(86) Only in that election did Leslie run for public office.
*Only in that election Leslie ran for public office.
(Bruening 2015: 16)
*Only twice I went there.
(Martinková 2010: 66)
In all of the above cases, the only-phrase itself does not have a difference in meaning between the inverted
and non-inverted structures. In addition, constructions like those in (88a) and (89a), where the only-phrase
can occur with a non-inverted structure, are grammatical because the only-phrase does not have the same
meaning as in the inverted structure. This is evidenced by the paraphrases below, which show that on the one
hand, in cases of non-inversion, the meaning of the only-phrase is not negative; on the other hand, in cases
of inversion, the meaning of the only-phrase is negative.
(88) a. Only yesterday I went there. (Martinková 2010: 66)
‘I went there as recently as yesterday’
b. Only yesterday did I go there
‘I did not go there before yesterday’ or ‘I went there on no other days than yesterday’
(89) a. Only this time, we went to her condo instead of mine. (COCA)
‘But this time, we went to her condo instead of mine.’
b. Only this time did we go to her condo instead of mine
‘No other times than this time did we go to her condo instead of mine’
In addition to the above examples with only-phrases, there are also cases where a negative constituent
can occur as either a topic or as a focus and superficially look like exactly the same constituent. The
difference, however, lies in their scope. As a topic, the constituent has scope over the constituent (and no
subject-auxiliary inversion occurs); as a focus, the constituent has sentential scope (and the auxiliary moves
leftward due to the NEG-criterion). As such, the meaning of the sentence is different. However, at the
moment, the only cases we have encountered are cases in which the preposed (negative) constituent consists
of an anti-additive/antimorphic QP within a prepositional phrase, as in (90) – (93). The differences in
meaning/scope are reflected in the paraphrases provided below each example.
35
(90) a. Not even ten years ago could you see such a film.
‘Even ten years ago, you could not see such a film.’
b. Not even ten years ago you could see such a film.
‘You could see such a film as recently as ten years ago.’
(Quirk et al 1985: 793)
(91) a. With no clothes is Sue attractive (S-negation)
‘There are no clothes in which Sue is attractive’
b. With no clothes, Sue is attractive (constituent negation)
‘While wearing no clothes, Sue is attractive’
(Horn 1989: 185)
‘Jobless, she would be happy’
b. With no job would she be happy.
‘There is no job such that she would be happy’
(Haegeman 2000b: 31)
(93) a. Not even 10 years ago, you could buy a house for less than 50k.
‘Less than 10 years ago, you could buy a house for less than 50k.’
b. Not even 10 years ago could you buy a house for less than 50k.
‘Even 10 years ago, you could not buy a house for less than 50k.’
(Büring 2004: 4-5)
As these ambiguous constituents which superficially look the same are capable of taking either
constituent or sentential negation, it must be that the structure of a topicalized PP is different from that of a
focalized PP. A concrete example which shows the different structures is based on (93), of which (93a) is an
instance of topicalization and (93b) is an instance of focalization. Büring compares these versions with
alternatives that project the same sentence into the future tense, as in (94a) – (94b). Example (94a), where
the constituent is topicalized, shows that not even modifies the DP within the PP. Example (94b), however,
where focalization occurs, shows that not even modifies the entire PP (‘in ten years’). The structures for
examples (93a) – (93b) and (94a) – (94b) are provided in Table 6.
36
(94) a. In not even ten years, you will be able to buy a house for 10k.
‘In less than 10 years, you will be able to buy a house for 10k’
b. Not even in ten years will you be able to buy a house for 10k.
‘Even in 10 years, you will not be able to buy a house for 10k’
(examples based on Büring 2004: 5)
Table 6. Inversion and topicalization structures (based on Büring 2004: 5)
When the negative quantifier is thus embedded within a PP, the preposition seems to stop the negation from
going up and having scope over the entire sentence. As such, the spec-head configuration (due to the NEG-
criterion) has to be met within the PP and cannot attract the auxiliary.
It can thus be concluded that, if a negative constituent has the possibility of occurring as either a topic
or as a focus (in separate sentences), this is because there is a difference in meaning and presumably an
underlying difference in structure.
Some cases of subject-auxiliary inversion with preposed quantifier phrases with never have been selected
from both corpora (out of 796 total hits) and are presented in (95) – (102). In addition, only 5 cases of SAI
with a preposed QP containing nothing have been identified; these are presented in (103) – (107).
(95) Never in my life had I done anything like this before. (BNC)
(96) Never in his life had he spoken to her in this way. (COCA)
(97) Never again did he wish to be God. (BNC)
(98) Never in your life did you want to go swimming again. (COCA)
(99) Never before were they faced with the threat of losing substantial numbers of accounts.
(BNC)
(100) Never was he where they said he was. (COCA)
(101) Never again would she land herself in such a mess. (BNC)
(102) Never again would we all meet in the flowery environs of the nursery school. (COCA)
Focalization Topicalization
(94b) not even [PP in [DP 10 years]] (94a) [PP in [DP not even 10 years]]
(93b) not even [PP [DP 10 years] ago] (93a) [PP [DP not even 10 years] ago]
37
(103) Nothing had he brought from the Tomb of the Black Dog, save his loot and his body, with
every aperture blocked. (COCA)
(104) He's a very passionate person, and nothing is he more passionate about than Vietnam.
(COCA)
(105) Nothing could he view without emotion. (BNC)
(106) Nothing can you do now, Paskaal. (COCA)
(107) The pain of Suzanne's death, the worse pain of her dying, had taken away his hopes for
anything more than simple companionship ever again; and for Clare's companionship alone
he was now deeply grateful, although with nothing could he ever again be as happy as he had
been. (COCA)
To account for these cases of SAI, it is expected that the (anti-additive) quantifier phrase has been
preposed because it is focalized. In the case of QPs containing never, they move from an aspectual position,
AspFreq I, in the TP-field (Cinque 1999) to the specifier of FocP. As never contains a morphological mark
of negation (cf. section 4.2.1.1), the NEG-criterion applies, requiring the auxiliary (which carries the
matching [NEG]-feature) to move leftward to Foc° to allow for the right spec-head configuration; i.e.
triggering subject-auxiliary inversion. A representation of this is provided in Figure 11. In the case of the
preposed QPs containing nothing, the same analysis applies; the difference being that they do not originate
in AspFreq I, but usually in a complement position to the VP as either an NP or within a PP. A representation
of this is provided in Figure 12.
38
39
In root clauses, negative inversion is also compatible with the preposing of adverbial or argumental
topics (Haegeman 2000b: 27) in SpecTopP. As such, this should also be possible for the examples from the
corpus research. Some of these examples, including a(n) (altered) version with an added topic, are provided
in (108) – (109) for never and in (110) – (111) for nothing.
(108) Never again would she land herself in such a mess. (BNC)
‘After the birth of her child, never again did she land herself in such as mess’
(109) Never was he where they said he was. (COCA)
‘During his kidnapping, never was he where they said he was’
(110) Nothing could he view without emotion. (BNC)
‘During his divorce, nothing could he view without emotion.’
(111) Nothing had he brought from the Tomb of the Black Dog, save his loot and his body,
with every aperture blocked. (COCA)
‘From the Tomb of the Black Dog, nothing had he brought back, save his loot and his body,
with every aperture blocked.’
To conclude, preposed quantifier phrases with never and nothing behave exactly as expected. As a
focalized constituent, they move into SpecFocP. Due to their [NEG]-feature, the NEG-criterion applies,
whereby the auxiliary, which carries the matching [NEG]-feature moves leftward to Foc°, triggering subject-
auxiliary inversion. What is unexpected, however, is the extreme low frequency of subject-auxiliary inversion
with preposed nothing. A possible cause of this is analyzed in section 4.2.4.1.
4.2.1.1. [NEG]-feature
The presence of an overt syntactic negative marker in purely negative QPs has already been established in
the current literature. There is “morphological incorporation of negation” or “Neg-incorporation” (de Swart
2009: 118; Horn 1989: 253-254). This means that a negative morpheme (i.e. not) is incorporated into an
indefinite to form an anti-additive QP. This is demonstrated for some anti-additive QPs in Table 7.
No Not a(ny) No one Not anyone
None Not any Nothing Not anything
Never Not ever Nobody Not anybody
Nowhere Not anywhere Neither Not either
Table 7. N-word morphology
4.2.2. Downward entailing QPs
Of the 389 cases of subject-auxiliary inversion with preposed quantifier phrases containing rarely, the cases
presented in (112) – (119) have been selected from both corpora. The same has been done for seldom (120)
– (127), few (128) – (135) and zero (136) – (139). In the case of zero, only two cases have been identified in
the corpora; as such, two more examples have been added from outside the corpora. Although rarely and
seldom have essentially the same meaning, the former occurs approximately 3 to 4 times as much as the
latter. A possible explanation for this could be that seldom is more formal.
(112) Rarely have I seen the' Whads' play with such composure, flair and skill. (BNC)
(113) Rarely have I felt such relief. (COCA)
(114) Rarely do I see a parent who has decided to buy a book as a present. (BNC)
(115) Rarely do they actually hurt each other. (COCA)
(116) Rarely are they negligible. (BNC)
(117) Rarely was he ever reprimanded or disciplined. (COCA)
(118) Rarely will they define precisely what it is they wish to find out about dinosaurs or railways.
(BNC)
(119) Rarely will he abandon a piece. (COCA)
(120) Seldom have I seen the House or the Government in quite such a mess. (BNC)
(121) Seldom have I been so terribly wrong. (COCA)
(122) Seldom do they spend successive winters in the same place, ... (BNC)
(123) Seldom do I hark back to the troubles of my youth. (COCA)
(124) Now th-- he was saying that, it's being argued here that, that very seldom is it that the
punishment exceeded the crime, … (BNC)
(125) Very, very seldom are they ever stopped. (COCA)
(126) Seldom if ever will he invite you to carry on, and assure you that if things go wrong he will
bear the burden of guilt. (BNC)
(127) Very seldom will I kill a wild bird over a pup. (COCA)
(128) On few occasions has it shown less moral scruple than when it made a deal with Brezhnev
to dispose of the Soviet gold. (BNC)
(129) Very few times did we have people step away. (COCA)
(130) In very few instances do we find something approaching internal evidence. (COCA)
(131) Very few spells do I cast. (COCA)
41
(132) Few are they who can manage to live with ideas. (BNC)
(133) Few days will you find he was even here in Los Angeles. (COCA)
(134) In few other places could you still find habitat where, within the space of walking only six
or seven miles, you went from forest to swamp to salt marsh to beach. (COCA)
(135) But in few places can you fry an egg on a sidewalk as quickly and thoroughly as you can
here. (COCA)
(136) Zero times have we done that. (COCA)
(137) And I would tell you, when you look at, on balance, over 50 cases that we've help disrupt
terrorist plots and contributed information to those, zero times have we come up with a place
where we have failed the public's confidence or Congress' confidence in these - in these laws.
(COCA)
(138) I looked at their last 80 games and zero times have they given up that many points and that
many yards. (Collins & Postal 2014: 137)
(139) But on zero occasions have I found myself held up, delayed, late to my destination or in any
other way inconvenienced by cyclists on the roads. (Collins & Postal 2014: 138)
Once again, subject-auxiliary inversion occurs, suggesting a leftward movement of the auxiliary to
Foc°. To justify this, it can be argued that the quantifier phrases with rarely and seldom also focalize by
moving from the aspectual position AspFreq I, in the TP-field (Cinque 1999), to SpecFocP. A representation
for rarely, which also applies to seldom, is provided in Figure 13 on the next page. Few and zero, like nothing
in Figure 12, can originate in the VP as a complement to the verb, although in most of the above cases they
originate as an adjunct to the VP. In both cases, they occur in either an NP or a PP. Even though rarely,
seldom, few and zero are weak negators, it could be argued that the NEG-criterion applies, which, as
suggested by Haegeman (2000b: 22), explains the subject-auxiliary inversion that occurs. The [NEG]-feature
in downward entailing quantifiers is elaborated on in section 4.2.2.1.
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Figure 13. Focalized downward entailing QP-structure (rarely)
Adverbial or argumental topics can also precede the “negative” constituent and are assumed to be in
SpecTopP. Some examples of this, for all of the above downward entailing QPs, are provided in (140) –
(146).
‘Since my accident, rarely have I felt such relief.’
(141) Rarely are they negligible. (BNC)
‘In such cases, rarely are they negligible.’
(142) Seldom have I seen the House or the Government in quite such a mess. (BNC)
‘Since the 90s, seldom have I seen the House or the Government in quite such a mess.’
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(143) Seldom have I been so terribly wrong. (COCA)
‘Not surprisingly, seldom have I been so terribly wrong.’
(144) Very few times did we have people ste