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External negation in Malay/Indonesian

From: Language
Volume 90, Number 1, March 2014
pp. 137-184 | 10.1353/lan.2014.0000



Two distinct negation markers compete in Malay/Indonesian verbal clauses. I argue that one (also used to negate nominal predicates) is a marker of ‘external’ (sentential) negation, while the other is a marker of ‘internal’ (predicate) negation. This contrast is demonstrated by striking differences in syntactic distribution and scopal properties. In verbal clauses the marker of predicate negation is the default, while the marker of sentential negation is allowed only in certain pragmatically determined contexts. These contexts include: (i) contrastive sentences, (ii) marked narrow focus, and (iii) metalinguistic negation. External negation in Malay is restricted to ‘root clauses’; I suggest that this is due to its echoic character.