Negative Inversion in Standard English
Muñoz Martín, Lucía
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This paper focuses on the description of several controversial properties of Negative Inversion (NI) in Standard English. The first topic is the fact that, according to some scholars, subject-auxiliary (subj-aux) inversion when there is preposed negative element is sometimes optional. Scholars agree that subject-auxiliary inversion is compulsory whenever the fronted negative element is an adjunct, but they differ when taking complements into account. Some state that subject-auxiliary (subj-aux) inversion is optional when the fronted negative element is a complement. However, others consider subject-auxiliary inversion to be compulsory all the time. In this paper I show that it is true that subject-auxiliary inversion is optional when the fronted negative element is a complement, as all the speakers asked accept non-inversion, and only half of them accept inversion in such environment. The next topic is whether NI behaves as a Root Phenomenon (RT) or not. Some scholars have stated that NI is in fact a RT, however, by analysing and comparing the environments where RTs and NI can appear, I get to the conclusion that, unlike Topicalization or Focalization (which are also considered RTs), NI does not follow all the requirements to be considered a RT. The last topic is the classification of Only Inversion as a subtype of NI, which I believe not to be accurate, as there are many differences between both phenomena, as the optionality of inversion and their monotonicity. I have approached all these topics from an empirical point of view, comparing what has been previously said in the literature with native English speakers’ grammaticality judgements gathered by an online survey, with the aim of getting clearer results. Keywords: Negative Inversion, Negative Preposing, Negative Constituent Preposing, Negative Adverbials, Interrogative Inversion, Subject-auxiliary inversion, Wh- questions, Focus Preposing, Topicalization, Only Inversion, Only Preposing, Only fronting, Root Phenomena.