On the subject of negative auxiliary inversion

Frances Blanchette, Chris Collins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This article presents a novel analysis of Negative Auxiliary Inversion (NAI) constructions such as didn't many people eat, in which a negated auxiliary appears in pre-subject position. NAI, found in varieties including Appalachian, African American, and West Texas English, has a word order identical to a yes/no question, but is pronounced and interpreted as a declarative. We propose that NAI subjects are negative DPs, and that the negation raises from the subject DP to adjoin to Fin (a functional head in the left periphery). Three properties of NAI motivate this analysis: (i) scope freezing effects, (ii) the various possible and impossible NAI subject types, and (iii) the incompatibility of NAI constructions with true Double-Negation interpretations. Implications for theories of Negative Concord, Negative Polarity Items, and the representation of negation are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-61
Number of pages30
JournalCanadian Journal of Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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