On the expression of negation in Mandarin Chinese and Spanish

Feifei Li


A macroparametric division between Double Negation (DN) and Negative Concord (NC) languages has been postulated in the literature on negation. Mandarin Chinese and Spanish have been classified as a DN and a NC language respectively. However, the interpretation of the expression of negation in NC versus DN languages is not clear-cut. This study aims to introduce and compare the interpretation of multiple negative expressions, fragment answers to negative questions and two experimental studies in these two languages. The results from the comparison show that unexpected interpretations of double negation and single negation are possible in both Mandarin Chinese and Spanish respectively under certain prosodic and gestural conditions. Accordingly, it allows us to question the parametric division between DN and NC languages.

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