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Title: Negation : implications for theories of natural language
Author: Von Klopp, Ana
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1993
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Natural language negation has been the object of numerous studies, but still no satisfactory description has yet been given. Current theories tend to be based on the negation in predicate logic, which they extend or extrapolate to increase the coverage. However, they incur a number of empirical inadequacies, and for some uses of negation, such as in yes/no-questions, it is difficult to envisage how a truth functional description could be modified to accommodate them. This thesis claims that the failure of previous theories stems from their reliance on the common assumption that sentences refer to facts, which is linked to a view of human communication as being a matter of transferring knowledge in the form of propositions from one person to another. As a result of assuming that uttering a sentence is equivalent to making a reference to a fact, it has been thought that uttering a sentence with a negation amounts to a claim that the information of the corresponding affirmative sentence is wrong. Negation has been viewed as applying to information which is conveyed by sentence. An alternative to the hypothesis that sentences are used to refer to facts is to assume that they are used to make small changes in someone's representation of the world - not in terms of adding and deleting propositions, but in terms of slight reorganisation of entities and concepts, and the links between them. If sentence meaning is thought of as instructions for how information about the world should be organised, it is possible to give a simple, unified characterisation of negation as being about a representation of information, not part of it. It is shown that this approach has great advantages in terms of descriptive adequacy and explanatory potential. For instance, it is possible to explain certain features of the use and interpretation of multiple negations and scalar expressions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available