Negation and Time: Against Expletive Negation in Temporal Clauses


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships




The label expletive negation has been applied traditionally to a negative expression that apparently does not have any meaning and, therefore, does not contribute to the meaning of a sentence. By examining temporal clauses with the words until, before, and since, this dissertation explores the distribution and meaning of the so-called expletive negation in different languages, with special focus on Romance languages. The main finding of this research is that the negative expression is not really empty; it actually changes the time in which an eventuality occurs. As a result, this dissertation argues for extending the role of the negative expressions in natural languages beyond changing the truth value of a proposition. By offering a theoretical and an experimental approach, this study contributes to understanding how negation is codified and used in different natural languages.