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Auteur: Susagna TUBAU

Co-Auteur(s): Joan BORRÀS-COMES, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain Pilar PRIETO, ICREA-Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain M. Teresa ESPINAL, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Prosody and metalinguistic Double Negation in Catalan and Spanish

Abstract/Résumé: Catalan/Spanish n-words (ningú/nadie 'nobody', res/nada 'nothing') in isolation or in presentential position may convey a positive meaning when uttered with the contradictory intonation L+H*L!H%. Conversely, if uttered with an unmarked contour L+H*L% they tend to be interpreted as conveying single negation. We discuss the implications of this for the understanding of how intonation and syntax interact and how hearers process sequences that are ruled out in grammar. For our study, we ran two perceptual identification experiments with 27 speakers of Catalan and 27 of Spanish, who were presented with some situational contexts and Question-Answer pairs like (1), and had to rate the Answer as meaning either 'nobody/nothing' or 'everybody/everything'. Catalan/Spanish are not expected to show Double Negation (DN) for isolated n-words or within clause bounded domains. We found that the L+H*L!H% contour activates a DN reading in all syntactic conditions, albeit to different extents. We argue the DN reading associated to the L+H*L!H% intonation to be metalinguistic [1], [2]. Namely, it results from correcting and denying a presupposition, rendered as a conversational implicature and activated when prosody interacts with syntax. In uttering (1a,b) with the L+H*L!H% intonation, the speaker of A asserts that zero people ate dessert -we take n-words to express a zero numeral meaning [3]- but s/he also corrects the speaker of Q's assumption (Somebody didn't eat dessert) supplying a new one (Somebody other than zero didn't eat dessert) and then denying it (There isn't somebody other than zero that didn't eat dessert). The implicature is that all individuals in the discourse domain (i.e. everyone) ate dessert. For presentential n-words, associations of marked forms and meanings (n-word + no + V, L+H*L!H% / DN) and of unmarked forms and meanings (n-word + V, L+H*L% / single negation) are favored. Non-matching pairs are attested too but dispreferred. To sum up, DN in Catalan/Spanish can be inferred as the output of post-compositional processes. (1) A mother enters the dining room when the other members of the family are around the table. She looks at the fruit bowl and asks: Q. Qui no ha menjat postres? 'Who has not eaten dessert?' A. a. Ningú (no) ha menjat postres. 'Nobody/Everybody ate dessert' b. Ningú. 'Nobody/Everybody' [1] Horn, L.R. 1989. A Natural History of Negation. Chicago: U. of Chicago Press [2] Geurts, B. 1998. The mechanisms of denial. Language 74.274-307 [3] Déprez, V. 1997. Two types of negative concord. Probus 9.103-143