Negative Preposing: Intervention and Parametric Variation in Complement Clauses

Ángel Luis Jiménez-Fernández


This work deals with root transformations (RTs) such as negative preposing in English and Spanish. I claim that RTs may in principle be compatible with all types of embedded clauses, regardless of whether the selecting predicate is factive/non-asserted or non-factive/asserted.  Languages differ in how freely they allow RTs in various types of complements. Adopting an intervention account, according to which the movement of an operator to Spec-CP intervenes with other types of movement, including RTs, I account for the variation in the distribution of English/Spanish negative preposing by certain options made possible as a result of feature inheritance of discourse features. It is well known that the distribution of RTs in English is extremely limited, while in Spanish the same operations are possible in many more constructions. In Spanish, discourse features may be inherited from complementizer (C) to tense (T) such that negative preposing targets Spec-TP, and hence there is no intervention effect. In contrast, discourse features stay at C in English, meaning that negative preposing competes for the target position with the operator movement to CP, and this gives rise to intervention. This hypothesis is explored and validated through an experiment with informants of the two languages.

Keywords: negative preposing; intervention; factivity/assertedness; feature inheritance; root transformations

Full Text:



Aboh, Enoch. 2005. “Deriving Relative and Factive Constructions in Kwa.” In Contributions to the Thirtieth Incontro di Grammatica Generativa, edited by Laura Brugè, Giuliana Giusti, Nicola Munaro, Walter Schweikert and Giuseppina Turano, 265- 285. Venezia: Libreria Editrice Cafoscarina.

Authier, Jean-Marc. 1992. “Iterated CPs and Embedded Topicalisation.” Linguistic Inquiry 23: 329-336.

Batllori, Montserrat and Maria Lluïsa Hernanz. 2014. “Variation in the Left Sentence Periphery: Weak Fronted Foci in Spanish and Catalan.” In Syntax over Time: Lexical, Morphological and Information-Structural Interactions, edited by Theresa Biberauer and George Walkden, 280-298. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Bianchi, Valentina. 2000. “On Time Adverbials.” Italian Journal of Linguistics 12 (1): 77-106.

Bianchi, Valentina and Mara Frascarelli. 2010. “Is Topic a Root Phenomenon?” Iberia: An International Journal of Theoretical Linguistics 2 (1): 43-88.

Bosque, Ignacio. 1980. Sobre la negación. Madrid: Cátedra.

Camacho-Taboada, Victoria and Ángel L. Jiménez-Hernández. 2014. “Focus Fronting and Root Phenomena in Spanish and English.” In Language Use and Linguistic Structure. Proceedings of the Olomouc Linguistics Symposium, 2013. Volume 3, edited by Joseph Emonds and Markéta Janebová, 47-60. Olomouc: Palacký UP.

Chomsky, Noam. 2008. “On Phases.” In Foundational Issues in Linguistic Theory, edited by Robert Freidin, Carlos Otero and Maria-Luisa Zubizarreta, 133-166. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Cinque, Guglielmo. 1990. Types of A’-Dependencies. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

De Clercq, Karen. 2010. “NEG-shift in English: Evidence from PP-adjuncts.” In Proceedings of the 12th Seoul International Conference on Generative Grammar: 2010 Movement in Minimalism, 231-251, edited by Duh-Ho An and Joo-Tech Kim. Seoul: Hankuk.

de Cuba, Carlos and Barbara Ürögdi. 2009. “Eliminating Factivity from Syntax: Sentential Complements in Hungarian.” In Approaches to Hungarian. Volume 11: Papers from the 2007 New York Conference, edited by Marcel den Dikken and Robert M. Vago, 29-65. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Emonds, Joseph. 1969. “Root and Structure-Preserving Transformations.” PhD diss., Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ––. 1976. A Transformational Approach to English Syntax. New York: Academic Press.

––. 2004. “Unspecifed Categories as the Key to Root Constructions.” In Peripheries: Syntactic Edges and their Effects, edited by David Adger, Cecile De Cat and George Tsoulas, 75-121. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Escandell, Victoria and Manuel Leonetti. 2014. “Fronting and Irony in Spanish.” In Left Sentence-Peripheries in Spanish: Diachronic, Variationist and Typological Perspectives, edited by Andreas Dufter and Octavio de Toledo, 309-342. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Gallego, Ángel. 2007. “Phase Theory and Parametric Variation.” PhD diss., Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona.

Green, Georgia. 1976. “Main Clause Phenomena in Subordinate Clauses.” Language 52 (2): 382-397.

Haegeman, Liliane. 2000. “Negative Preposing, Negative Inversion and the Split CP.” In Negation and Polarity, edited by Laurence Horn and Yasuhiko Kato, 21-61. Oxford: Oxford UP.

––. 2002. “Anchoring to Speaker, Adverbial Clauses and the Structure of CP.” Georgetown University Working Papers in Theoretical Linguistics 2: 117-180.

––. 2006a. “Argument Fronting in English, Romance CLLD and the Left Periphery.” In Negation, Tense and Clausal Architecture: Cross-Linguistic Investigations, edited by Raffaella Zanuttini, Hector Campos, Elena Herburger and Paul Portner, 27-52. Washington: Georgetown UP.

––. 2006b. “Conditionals, Factives and the Left Periphery.” Lingua 116: 1651-1669.

––. 2007. “Operator Movement and Topicalization in Adverbial Clauses.” Folia Linguistica 18: 485-502.

––. 2010. “The Internal Syntax of Adverbial Clauses.” Lingua 120: 628-648.

––. 2012. Adverbial Clauses, Main Clause Phenomena and the Composition of the Left Periphery: The Cartography of Syntactic Structures. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Haegeman, Liliane and Barbara Ürögdi. 2010. “Referential CPs and DPs: An Operator Movement Account.” Theoretical Linguistics 36 (2/3): 111-152.

Hegarty, Michael. 1992. “Familiar Complements and their Complementizers: On Some Determinants of A’-Locality.” Unpublished manuscript.

Hernanz, Maria Lluïsa. 2006. “Emphatic Polarity and C in Spanish.” In Studies in Spanish Syntax, edited by Laura Brugè, 105-150. Venice: Università Ca’ Foscari.

Heycock, Caroline. 2006. “Embedded Root Phenomena.” In The Blackwell Companion to Syntax. Volume 2, edited by Martin Everaert and Henk van Riemsdijk, 174-209. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hooper, John and Sandra Thompson. 1973. “On the Applicability of Root Transformations.” Linguistic Inquiry 4: 465-497.

Jiménez-Fernández, Ángel Luis. 2010. “Discourse-Agreement Features, Phasal C and the Edge: A Minimalist Approach.” Diacrítica - Language Sciences Series 24 (1): 25-49.

––. 2011. “On the Order of Multiple Topics and Discourse-Feature Inheritance.” Dilbilim Araştırmaları [Journal of Linguistic Research] 1: 5-32.

––. 2015. “Towards a Typology of Focus: Subject Position and Microvariation at the Discourse-Syntax Interface.” Ampersand: An International Journal of General and Applied Linguistics 2: 49-60.

Jiménez-Fernández, Ángel Luis and Shigeru Miyagawa. 2014. “A Feature- Inheritance Approach to Root Phenomena and Parametric Variation.” Lingua 145: 276-302.

Kiss, Katalin É. 1995. “Introduction.” In Discourse Confgurational Languages, edited by Katalin É. Kiss, 3-27. Oxford: Oxford UP.

Klima, Edward. 1964. “Negation in English.” In The Structure of Language. Readings in the Philosophy of Language, edited by Jerry Fodor and Jerrold Katz, 246-323. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Lasnik, Howard. 2003. Minimalist Investigations in Linguistic Theory. London: Routledge.

Leonetti, Manuel and Victoria Escandell. 2009. “Fronting and Verum Focus in Spanish.” In Focus and Background in Romance Languages, edited by Andreas Dufter and Daniel Jacob, 155-204. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

––. 2010. “Las anteposiciones inductoras de foco de polaridad.” In La renovación de la palabra en el bicentenario de la Argentina. Los colores de la mirada lingüística, edited by Víctor Castel and Liliana Cubo de Severino, 733-743. Mendoza: Editorial de la Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. M

Maki, Hideki, Lizanne Kaiser and Masao Ochi. 1999. “Embedded Topicalization in English and Japanese.” Lingua 109: 1-14.

Meinunger, André. 2004. “Verb Position, Verbal Mood and the Anchoring (Potential) of Sentences.” In Syntax and Semantics of the Left Periphery, edited by Horst Lohnstein and Susanne Trissler, 459-487. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Melvold, Janis. 1991. “Factivity and Defniteness.” In More Papers on Wh-Movement, edited by Lisa Cheng and Hamida Demirdache, 97-117. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Miyagawa, Shigeru. 2005. “On the EPP.” In Perspectives on Phases, edited by Norvin Richards and Martha McGinnis, 201-236. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

––. 2010. Why Agree? Why Move? Unifying Agreement-Based and Discourse Confgurational Languages. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

––. 2017. Agreement Beyond Phi. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Ojea, Ana. 2017. “Core Intentional Features in the Syntactic Computation: Deriving the Position of the Subject in Spanish.” Lingua 195: 72-91.

Poole, Geoffrey. 2016. “Focus and the Syntacticization of Discourse.” In Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 10: Selected Papers from ‘Going Romance’ 28, Lisbon, edited by Ernestina Carrilho, Alexandra Fiéis, Maria Lobo and Sandra Pereira, 191- 210. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Quer, Josep. 2002. “Edging Quantifers. On QP-fronting in Western Romance.” In Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2000, edited by Claire Beyssade, Reineke Bok-Bennema, Frank Drijkoningen and Paola Monachesi, 253-270. Amsterdam and Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.

Radford, Andrew. 2009. Analysing English Sentences: A Minimalist Approach. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.

Richards, Mark D. 2007. “On Feature Inheritance: An Argument from the Phase Impenetrability Condition.” Linguistic Inquiry 38: 563-572.

Roussou, Anna. 2000. “On the Left Periphery: Modal Particles and Complementizers.” Journal of Greek Linguistics 1: 65-94.

Tubau, Susagna. 2008. Negative Concord in English and Romance: Syntax-Morphology Interface Conditions on the Expression of Negation. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap / Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics.

Zeijlstra, Hedde. 2004. Sentential Negation and Negative Concord. Utrecht: Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap / Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Atlantis. Journal of the Spanish Association for Anglo-American Studies
ISSN: 0210-6124 | e-ISSN: 1989-6840. © Atlantis/Aedean 2013.
Contact | Privacy Statement | Copyright notice | Journal Help| Site Map