Retour vers liste

Détail de la contribution

Auteur: Elena ALBU

Insights into metarepresentational negation [not(X) but (X’)]

Abstract/Résumé: The aim of this paper is to discuss the configuration of metarepresentational negation (MetNeg) [not (X) but (X’)] in natural language. I introduce the notion of negative structure (NS) in the attempt to delimit between the configuration and the discursive pattern of the structures generated by the negative operator "not". The configuration regards the manner in which the NS functions from a cognitive point of view, with an emphasis on what inferences are triggered and what cognitive effects are derived. In contrast, the discursive pattern concerns the linguistic representation and the discursive organization of each NS. The dichotomy between the descriptive use and interpretive use/metarepresentational use (Sperber and Wilson 1995, Wilson 2000) is found at the basis of our account. Starting from the particularities of the two uses, I identify two major classes of NSs: descriptive negation (DN) and metarepresentational negation (MetNeg). In comparison to DN, which is the actualization of descriptive use, always a first order interpretation, MetNeg is the actualization of the metarepresentational use, always a second order interpretation. While DN represents the ‘description of a negative content’, MetNeg is built around the action of ‘rejection’, i.e. the mental activity generated in accordance with the ‘contradicting and eliminating an existing assumption’ cognitive effect. MetNeg [not (X) but (X’)] is a unitary construction, with a fixed configuration and interpretation. In comparison with previous accounts of metalinguistic negation, the present analysis concentrates equally on the two segments: (X) and (X’). We consider that the particularity of this negative structure is determined by the action of the correlative pair [not…but] and not by the action of the negative operator "not" alone. This hypothesis is supported by the Romanian disjunctive marker, i.e. the "corrective but", which cannot appear alone or in other contexts. Based on the corpus of data, we identified three patterns that always lead to the generation of the same inferences: [not (X) but (X’)], [not (X) {but} (X’)] and [(X’) not (X)]. MetNeg [not (X) but (X’)] generates a subtype of the 'contradiction and elimination of an existing assumption' cognitive effect, namely [rejection + correction] by exclusion. The examples represent Romanian data in the attempt to capture the functioning of negation in authentic communication situations. The presentation is a linguistic contribution situated in the subfield of cognitive pragmatics with applications in political discourse. The approach uses the tools and methods provided by Relevance Theory (Sperber and Wilson 1995).