From constructions to functions and back: Contrastive negation in English and Finnish
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CitationSilvennoinen. Olli O. (2020). From constructions to functions and back: Contrastive negation in English and Finnish. Folia linguistica, 54 (1) , 45-87. 10.1515/flin-2020-2027.
This is a comparative investigation of contrastive negation in English and Finnish, i. e. combinations of a negated and an affirmed part construed as alternatives to one another. In both languages, there are several constructions that express contrastive negation, but their division of labour remains unclear. The aims of the paper are two-fold: first, to see what constructional strategies are available for contrastive negation in the two languages and, second, to see how the strategies are motivated by its interactional functions. In English, contrastive negation may be expressed by using the adversative conjunction but correctively (e. g. It’s not the bikers but the other vehicle on the road), whereas standard Finnish has a specialised corrective conjunction vaan alongside the adversative mutta. Moreover, many constructions can express contrastive negation, including ones without a conjunction (e. g. It’s not the bikers, it’s the other vehicle on the road). An analysis of conversational data shows that English favours constructions without conjunctions, while in Finnish constructions both with and without conjunctions are frequent. The uses of contrastive negation are divided into reactive and non-reactive. The pragmatic functions largely explain the usage patterns, and these in turn can explain the cross-linguistic regularities of corrective conjunctions.