Child English pre-sentential negation as metalinguistic exclamatory sentence negation

Drozd, K. F. (1995). 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.
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date
1995

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