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Title: Variation and change in English negation : a cross-dialectal perspective
Author: Childs, Claire
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 0038
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2017
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Although negation is a linguistic universal (Dahl 1979; Horn 2001: xiii), the ways in which it is expressed are highly variable within and across languages (Miestamo 2005; de Swart 2010: 245). This thesis focuses on this variation in English, using corpora of informal conversations recorded in Glasgow (Scotland), Tyneside (North East England) and Salford (North West England) to study three variables: 1. Not-/no-negation and negative concord e.g. I don’t have any money / I have no money / I don’t have no money 2. Non-quantificational never and didn’t e.g. I never saw / I didn’t see that programme last night 3. Negative tags e.g. It’s a nice day, isn’t it / int it / innit? This research aims to bridge the gap between two typically distinct sub-fields of linguistics: variationist sociolinguistics and formal linguistic theory. The investigation draws upon formal theory in (i) defining the linguistic variables and their contexts; (ii) generating hypotheses to test using the spoken data; and (iii) interpreting the results of the quantitative variationist analysis in a theoretically-informed manner. The analysis takes a comparative approach (Poplack & Tagliamonte 2001) to examine whether the factors conditioning negation are subject to regional differentiation. The results demonstrate that all three variables are most significantly constrained by internal factors such as verb type and lexical aspect. Although the relative frequency of variants always differs across geographical space, the underlying system is the same. Discourse-pragmatic factors apply consistently for the not/no/concord and never/didn’t variables, whereas the negative tags are more variable in this regard and are sensitive to social and situational factors. These different strands of evidence together provide support for particular theoretical accounts of how variants are derived from the grammar (not/no/concord) and how they have grammaticalised over time (never/didn’t and negative tags).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available