The Effect of Prominence and Register on the Interpretation of NegationsEffekten af prominens og register på fortolkningen af negationer
The typical example of linguistic polyphony is negation. In the utterance ‘the wall is not white’, the speaker denies the Point of View (POV) that the wall is indeed white. Thus, this POV is present in the utterance even though the speaker denies its content (Nølke 2007, 111-112). With regard to semantics and pragmatics, negations can be used in three different ways, which gives rise to a typology of three different types of negations: 1) the descriptive negation, 2) the polemic negation, and 3) the meta-linguistic negation (Nølke 1999, 4). This typology illuminates the fact that the negation as such may be more or less central to the meaning of the utterance. The present paper investigates the role of morphosyntactic and prosodic prominence as well as register and social setting on the interpretation of negations. It seems plausible to expect that if the negation as such is central to the meaning of the utterance (as in polemic negations), the negation will be articulated prominently in order to emphasise this importance. Likewise, if the negation is not central to the meaning of the utterance, it should not be articulated prominently. Moreover, it is plausible to expect descriptive negations to be more common in certain social context or genres, while polemic negations are more likely to come up in other genres and social settings. Previous studies have shown a relation between articulatory prominence and register, which may further inform the analysis. Hence, the paper investigates how articulatory prominence and register may either work in concert or oppose each other with respect to the cues they provide for the interpretation.
Aarhus Universitet. Institut for Sprog, Litteratur Og Kultur. Prepublications, 2011, Vol 197, p. 37-57