Project B10:
Typology and Logical Form of Sentential Negation

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Publications by B10

Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft

Negation database maintained by B10


Head of the project

Prof. Dr. Arnim von Stechow
        Seminar für Sprachwissenschaft
        Universität Tübingen
        Wilhelmstraße 19, Room 1.20
        72074 Tübingen
        Phone +49/7071/29-77302; Fax +49/7071/550520
        Email: arnim.stechow <[at]>


Doris Penka
Office: Wilhelmstr. 19, Room 1.24
Phone +49/7071/29-78486
Email: d.penka <[at]>

Research Assistant

Iryna Piir
Office: Nauklerstr. 35, Room 3.11
Phone +49/7071/29-77156
Email: sander.sander <[at]>

Former Staff

Hedde Zeijlstra
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Spuistraat 134, Room 4.31
1012 VB Amsterdam
Email: H.H.Zeijlstra <[at]>


The general aim of the project is to further develop a theory of the syntax-semantics interface with special interest in functional categories.

During the first two phases of the SFB (1999-2004), the central topic of investigation was tense and temporal adverbs and their interaction with aspect, modality and subordination (see B10 1999-2004).

In the current phase, investigation focuses on the phenomenon of negation. While the semantics of negation is straightforward, it is probably the functional category hardest to describe morphologically-syntactically. The aim is the development of a cross-linguistic theory of sentential negation that is both semantically and syntactically adequate.

We start from the assumption that sentential negation can be expressed in different ways. Accordingly, we assume that negative terms (nobody, nothing etc. and their equivalent across languages) aren't themselves negative, but are rather morpho-syntactic markers of sentential negation. As such they must  be licensed by a semantic negation. In the project, this approach will be applied to a number of languages in order to arrive at a typology that can explain the differences in the manifestation of sentential negation across languages with a few parameters.

As empirical foundation for theoretical research, several data based investigations will be conducted in the project. On the one hand, data from different languages are systematically collected in a database, in order to facilitate the discovery of typological regularities. On the other hand, corpus studies and systematic experimentall studies will be used to establish the empirical basis.

Last modified 14.06.2007 by Doris Penka