Child English pre-sentential negation as
metalinguistic exclamatory sentence negation
Drozd, K. F.
Child English pre-sentential negation as metalinguistic exclamatory sentence negation. Journal of Child Language, 22
(3), 583-610. doi:10.1017/S030500090000996X.
This paper presents a study of the spontaneous pre-sentential negations
of ten English-speaking children between the ages of 1; 6 and 3; 4 which
supports the hypothesis that child English nonanaphoric pre-sentential
negation is a form of metalinguistic exclamatory sentence negation. A
detailed discourse analysis reveals that children's pre-sentential negatives
like No Nathaniel a king (i) are characteristically echoic, and (it)
typically express objection and rectification, two characteristic functions
of exclamatory negation in adult discourse, e.g. Don't say 'Nathaniel's a
king'! A comparison of children's pre-sentential negations with their
internal predicate negations using not and don't reveals that the two
negative constructions are formally and functionally distinct. I argue
that children's nonanaphoric pre-sentential negatives constitute an
independent, well-formed class of discourse negation. They are not
'primitive' constructions derived from the miscategorization of emphatic
no in adult speech or children's 'inventions'. Nor are they an
early derivational variant of internal sentence negation. Rather, these
negatives reflect young children's competence in using grammatical
negative constructions appropriately in discourse.