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Antonyms and derivational negation: a pilot study of cross-linguistic variation
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9592-5780
2015 (English)In: ALT 2015: 11th Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology. August 1-3, 2015, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. Abstract Booklet, Albuquerque: University of New Mexico , 2015, 85-86 p.Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Typological research on negation has mainly focused on clausal negation and on indefinite pronouns in the scope of negation (see Miestamo 2007 for an overview). Derivational affixes expressing negation (e.g., un- in unhappy or -less in powerless), have so far not figured in systematic typological studies. Zimmer's (1964) seminal study of affixal negation with adjectives is mainly restricted to a few well-known Indo-European languages; other families are given less attention. Semantically, derivational negation is closely connected to antonymy, which can be expressed by unrelated lexemes (lexical antonyms: small vs. big) or by means of overt derivational negation (morphological antonyms: happy vs. unhappy). Lexical and morphological antonymy do not necessarily exclude each other. E.g., Russian has regular triads of the kind bol’šoj ‘big’ – malen’kij ‘little’ – nebol’šoj ‘NEG.big’, and even tetrads, such as dobryj ‘kind’ – zloj ‘mean’ – nedobryj ‘NEG.kind’ – nezloj ‘NEG.mean’. Antonymy has been a popular topic in semantic theories and in logic (see Horn 2001). A central distinction is the one between contradictory vs. contrary opposites; the former are either–or (dead vs. alive), whereas the latter show a middle ground between the two poles (small vs. big). It has been suggested that languages have “canonical antonyms”, i.e. “a limited core of highly opposable couplings” (speed: slow/fast, luminosity: dark/light, strength: weak/strong, size small/large, width: narrow/wide, merit bad/good and thickness thin/thick) (Paradis & al. 2009). However, systematic typological studies of antonymy are lacking. This talk presents a cross-linguistic pilot study of antonymy and its expression by both lexical and overt morphological means. Our pilot sample includes 20 languages from different families and geographical areas. The data come from dictionaries and grammars as well as from a questionnaire sent to language experts. We focus on antonymy in property words (adjectives), more specifically in such forms that can be used as adnominal modifiers, with the goal to find correlations between semantic and formal properties of antonyms. From the formal point of view, we will pay attention to the type of marking (e.g., prefix vs. suffix), to the number of different derivational negators in a language, whether these markers can be used on other word classes than property words and how they are related to other negative markers in the language, primarily to clausal negation. Taking in semantics, we will observe what types of opposition (contrary vs. contradictory, scalar vs. non-scalar etc.) and which domains (evaluation, size, dimension, temperature etc.) are expressed by lexical antonyms vs. each attested type of overt morphological marking. Specific hypotheses to be tested against the cross-linguistic data include the following. Evaluatively positive members of an antonym pair are more likely to accept morphological negation (unclever vs. *unstupid). The existence of a lexical antonym may block the possibility of morphological marking and if triads (or tetrads) exist, there will be cross-linguistically recurring ways in which the meanings of the lexical vs. morphological antonyms are related to each other. Morphological antonyms built with elements similar to clausal negators in the language will tend to involve contradictory rather than contrary opposites.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Albuquerque: University of New Mexico , 2015. 85-86 p.
Keyword [en]
antonymy, negation, derivation, typology
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Literature
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-128126OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-128126DiVA: diva2:913114
Conference
11th Conference of the Association for Linguistic Typology, Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA, August 1-3, 2015
Available from: 2016-03-19 Created: 2016-03-19 Last updated: 2016-11-18Bibliographically approved

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Koptjevskaja Tamm, MariaMiestamo, Matti
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