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a study of some english negative structures with reference to the vietnamese equivalents based on the bilingual story “an ideal husband”

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS

A STUDY OF SOME ENGLISH NEGATIVE STRUCTURES
WITH REFERENCE TO THE VIETNAMESE
EQUIVALENTS BASED ON THE BILINGUAL STORY
“AN IDEAL HUSBAND”

LÊ THỊ PHƯƠNG ANH

Hanoi, 2016

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY

M.A. THESIS


A STUDY OF SOME ENGLISH NEGATIVE STRUCTURES
WITH REFERENCE TO THE VIETNAMESE
EQUIVALENTS BASED ON THE BILINGUAL STORY
“AN IDEAL HUSBAND”

LÊ THỊ PHƯƠNG ANH

Field: English Language
Code: 60220201

Supervisor: Ly Lan, Ph.D.

Hanoi, 2016

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CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY
I, the undersigned, hereby certify my authority of the study project report
entitled A STUDY OF SOME ENGLISH NEGATIVE STRUCTURES
WITH REFERENCE TO THE VIETNAMESE EQUIVALENTS BASED
ON THE BILINGUAL STORY “AN IDEAL HUSBAND” submitted in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in English
Language. Except where the reference is indicated, no other person’s work
has been used without due acknowledgement in the text of the thesis.
Hanoi, 2016

Le Thi Phuong Anh

Approved by

Ly Lan, Ph.D.

Date: 14/10/2016

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

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This thesis could not have been completed without the help and
support from a number of people.
First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to
Ph.D. Ly Lan, my supervisor, who has patiently and constantly supported
me through the stages of the study, and whose stimulating ideas, expertise,
and suggestions have inspired me greatly through my growth as an
academic researcher.
A special word of thanks goes to Dr. Nguyen Dang Suu (my Teacher
and also my mother’s Teacher, to all my Teachers in Hanoi Open
University, without whose support and encouragement it would never have
been possible for me to have this thesis accomplished.
Last but not least, I am greatly indebted to my parents for the sacrifice
they have devoted to the fulfillment of this academic work.

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LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Sample:
A.:

Adjective/ Adverbial

AmE:

American English

Aux:

Auxiliary

BrE:

British English

C.:

Complement

CG.:

Cognitive grammar

N:

Noun

O.:

Object

P.:

Pronoun

PP:

Past perfect

Pr.:

Predicate

S.:

Subject

V.:

Verb

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LIST OF TABLES AND FIGURES
Table 1. Assertive and non-assertive negatives

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Table 2. The frequency of using modal verb with ‘not’ in negative

55

structures in the story
Table 3. The frequency of using negators “không” and “chẳng” in

62

translated version
Table 4. Negative structure in the source language text and the target

63

source one

Figure 1. The frequency using “not” in different parts in the sentence

56

Figure 2. The frequency of using “no” in different parts in the sentence

59

Figure 3. The frequency of using negators in translated version

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v 61


TABLE OF CONTENTS
CERTIFICATE OF ORIGINALITY ..............................................................i
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................... ii
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS...................................................................... iii
LIST OF TABLE AND FIGURES.............................................................. iv
Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION .......................................................................5
1.1. Rationale ................................................................................................5
1.2. Aims of research .....................................................................................5
1.3. Objectives of the research .......................................................................5
1.4. Scope of the study ..................................................................................6
1.5. Significance of research ..........................................................................6
1.6. Organizational structure of thesis ...........................................................6
Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................7
2.1. Review of previous studies .....................................................................7
2.2. Review of theoretical background ..........................................................9
2.2.1. Overview of negation ..........................................................................9
2.2.2. Negation under some linguists’ viewpoint ........................................10
2.2.2.1. According to the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and
Applied Linguistics: .....................................................................................10
2.2.2.2. “Negation in English” by Klima .....................................................11
2.2.2.3. Halliday and Hassan ......................................................................12
2.2.2.4. Quirk et al (1973)............................................................................12
2.2.3. Characteristics of negation ................................................................14
2.2.3.1. Scope of negation............................................................................14
2.2.3.2. Focus of negation ............................................................................17
2.2.3.3. The relationship between scope and focus of negation ..................19
2.2.4. Negation in Vietnamese .....................................................................20
Chapter 3: METHODOLOGY ...................................................................23
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3.1. Research-governing orientations .........................................................23
3.1.1. Researh questions ..............................................................................23
3.1.2. Researh setting ...................................................................................24
3.1.3. Principles/criteria for intended data collection and data analysis .....24
3.2. Research methods .................................................................................24
3.2.1. Major methods and supporting methods ...........................................24
3.2.2. Data collection techniques .................................................................25
3.2.3. Data analysis techniques ....................................................................25
Chapter 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION...............................................26
4.1. The comparison of syntactic structures of negation between English and
Vietnamese...................................................................................................26
4.1.1. Structures of negative statements ......................................................26
4.1.1.1. Subject negation..............................................................................26
a. Structure of subject negation with “NOT” ..............................................27
b. Structure of subject negation with “NO” .................................................27
4.1.1.2. Predicate negation ..........................................................................29
a. Structure of predicate negation with “NOT” ..........................................30
b. Structure of modal negation.....................................................................31
c. Structure of negation with “BE” .............................................................32
d. Negation with “HAVE” ...........................................................................33
e. Structure of negation with lexical “HAVE” ...........................................33
f. Structure of negation with auxiliary “HAVE” ........................................34
g. Structure of negation with auxiliary “DO” .............................................36
h. Structure of non-assertive form ..............................................................36
i. Structure of negation with NOT…ANY ..................................................37
j. Structure of negation with NOT…EITHER .............................................37
k. Structure of negation with NOT…EVER ................................................38
4.1.1.3. Objective negation ..........................................................................38
4.1.1.4. Complement negation .....................................................................39
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4.4.1.5. Adverbial negation .........................................................................40
4.1.1.6. Clause negation ...............................................................................42
4.1.1.7. Total negation ................................................................................43
4.1.2. Negative questions ............................................................................45
4.1.2.1. Negative Yes-No questions ...........................................................45
4.1.2.2. Negative Wh- questions .................................................................46
4.1.2.3. Tag questions ..................................................................................47
4.1.2.4. Negative commands .......................................................................48
4.1.3. The similarities and differences of negative structures between
English and Vietnamese...............................................................................49
4.1.3.1. Similarities ......................................................................................49
4.1.3.2. Differences ......................................................................................51
4.2. The structures of negations used in “An ideal husband” and their
equivalents in Vietnamese translated version ..............................................52
4.2.1. The structures of negations used in “An ideal husband” ..................52
4.2.1.1. The frequency of using the negators “NOT”, “NO” in the story and
in Vietnamese translated version ................................................................52
a. The frequency of using “NOT” in the story ............................................53
b. The frequency of using “NO” in the story ...............................................57
4.2.1.2. Negation with not ... any, not … at all, not…either, neither …nor,
never in the story..........................................................................................59
4.2.2. Syntactic features of English negative structures taken from the story
“An ideal husband” by Oscar Wilderwith reference to their equivalents in
Vietnamese translated version .....................................................................62
4.2.2.1. Negative statements in the story .....................................................63
a. Subject negation in the story ...................................................................63
1. Subject negation with NOT in the story .................................................63
2. Subject negation with NO in the story.....................................................65
b. Predicate negation in the story ................................................................67
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1. Predicate negation with modal verbs in the story ....................................67
2. Predicate negation with modal verbs “cannot” and “might not” ............68
3. Predicate negation with “will not, shall not” in the story ........................69
4. Predicate negation with “must not” in the story ......................................69
5. Predicate negation with “BE” in the story ...............................................70
6. Predicate negation with HAVE NOTHING, HAVE NO in the story .....73
7. Negation with auxiliary HAVE in the story… ........................................74
8. Negation with auxiliary DO in the story .................................................76
9. Negation with NOT...ANY ......................................................................82
10. Negation with NOT...EITHER ..............................................................83
11. Negation with NOT...EVER ..................................................................84
c. Object negation in the story ....................................................................85
d. Complement negation in the story ...........................................................87
e. Adverbial negation ...................................................................................88
f. Clausal negation ......................................................................................89
g. Total negation ..........................................................................................90
4.2.2.2 Negative questions in the story .......................................................92
a. Negative Yes-No questions .....................................................................92
b. Negative Wh- questions in the story........................................................94
c. Tag questions ..........................................................................................94
d. Negative declarative questions ................................................................97
4.2.2.3. Negative commands in the story ....................................................99
Chapter 5: CONCLUSION .......................................................................100
5.1. A brief summary of the thesis and main conclusions .........................100
5.2. Limitations of the study .....................................................................100
5.3. Suggestions for further studies ..........................................................101
REFERENCES .........................................................................................102

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CHAPTER I - INTRODUCTION TO THE STUDY
1.1. Rationale
Negation is present in all human languages; it is one of the prevalent and
fundamental features of any human languages. As Larry Horn observes in
his “A Natural History of Negation” that all human systems of
communication contain a representation

of negation. No animal

communication system includes negative utterances, and consequently none
possesses a means for assigning truth value, for lying, for irony, or for
coping with false or contradictory statements (Horn2001:xiii). In English,
especially in the stories, negative sentences account for not a small
proportion. Much attention has been paid to the patterns and semantic of
negative sentences. However, there has been no investigation into a
particular literal work so far. For this reason, in this thesis I would like to
devote all my interest some English negative structures used in the bilingual
story “An ideal husband” by Oscar Wilder so as to point out their syntactic
and semantic features with reference to the Vietnamese equivalents in the
translated version “Người chồng lí tưởng” by Hoàng Nguyên in order to get
more understanding of negation in human languages and we can be able to
use negative structures flexibly and fluently.
1.2. Aims of research
This study is aimed at describing and classifying how negative structures of
English and Vietnamese are built and used in details, making a comparison
of English negation with Vietnamese one. The writer also carry out an
investigation into the structures of negation in the bilingual story “An ideal
husband” and its translated version “Một người chồng lý tưởng”.
1.3. Objectives of the research.

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To achieve the aims of the research, the objectives of the research focus on:
(i)

Describing the syntactic and semantic features of English and

Vietnamese negative structures.
(ii)

Finding out the similarities and differences between English and

Vietnamese negative structures.
(iii)

Sorting out all the negative structures used in the story “An ideal

husband” and its Vietnamese translated version.
1.4. Scope of the study
Firstly, the theoretical background of the study focuses on the
syntactic features of English and Vietnamese negative structures.
Secondly, the study focuses on some English negative structures used
in the bilingual story “An ideal husband” by Oscar Wilder so as to point out
their syntactic and semantic features with reference to the Vietnamese
equivalents in the translated version by Hoàng Nguyên.
The result of the research is hoped to be applied for teaching English
negative structures to the Vietnamese learners of English as foreign
language at Faculty of English at Hanoi Open University.
1.5. Significance of research
Some typical syntactic and semantic features of English negative
structures found in the bilingual story “An ideal husband” could be found
thus helping other researchers be able to improve the theory relating to
negation in terms of linguistics; and providing Vietnamese learners of
English with a further understanding and using English negative structures.
1.6. Organizational structure of thesis
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The thesis divided into five main chapters:
Chapter I is the introduction of the study. It includes the rationale for
choosing the topic, the aims, the objective, the scope, the significance of the
research and the organizational structure of the thesis.
Chapter II is the literature review. It includes the review of previous
studies and the review of theoretical background.
Chapter III is the methodology. It includes the research orientations,
research questions, major methods, supporting methods and techniques of
the research.
Chapter IV is findings and discussions. It describes the main results of the
research.
Chapter V is conclusion. It gives a brief summary of the whole research.

CHAPTER II - LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1. Review of previous studies
Jesperson (1917) in “Negation in English and Other Languages” paves
the ways for studies of negation later. He provides the readers with general
tendencies of negation, strengthened and weakened negatives, indirect and
incomplete negation and the meaning of negation. He also shows that
negation can be complete with nuclear negators like “not”, “no”, “never”, or
incomplete with semi-negations as “hardly”, “scarcely”, “little”, “few”.
Among them, “not” is followed by auxiliary verbs to negate the whole
sentence.

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Klima’s (1964) supplies a wide variety of sentences that are
superficially quite distinct “negative” words such as “not”, “none”, “never”.
He is trying to show several criteria for differentiating a class of “negative
sentences”. His approach is a syntactic approach aimed at grammatical
correctness and proper use of the negation. Lake off (1965) was another
linguist who looked at negation syntactically and differed from Klima in
certain areas. He raised some main objections, but his finding or proposition
are not as far reaching or all encompassing in relation to negation and a bit
ambiguous.
Tottie (1991) puts forward a classification of the uses of negatives in
both oral and written language in “Negation in English Speech and
Writing”. Pagan (1990) shows the pragmatic perspective of “Negatives in
Written Text”. Horn, Laurence, R. and Yasuhiko Kato (2000) in “Negation
and Polarity- Syntactic and Semantic Perspectives” give out the syntactic
features and scope of negation. Mazzon in “A History of English Negation”
concerns about an extensive study of negation that combines both
synchronic

and

diachronic

complementary

analyses.Vietnamese

grammarians and linguists have investigated into negation from difference
perspectives but mainly focus on traditional, structural or logical
perspectives such as Hoàng Trọng Phiến (1980), Nguyễn Đức Dân (1996),
Đỗ Thị Kim Liên (1999) Diệp Quang Ban (2004, 2006), Mai Ngọc Chu, Vũ
Đức Nghiệu. In addition, Nguyen Quang has also investigated negative
sentences in English and Vietnamese on a contrastive analysis in his master
thesis. Especially, Tran Van Phuoc in his doctor thesis “Phân tích đối chiếu
câu phủ định tiếng Anh và tiếng Việt trên bình diện cấu trúc ngữ nghĩa”
systemized the syntactic-semantic features both in English and Vietnamese
declarative sentences as well as analyzed the differences and similarities of
syntactic-semantic features in the two languages. He suggests 17- negative
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sentence structures and 61 variations in English as well as 64 variations in
Vietnamese.

Then Ms Tran Phuong Thao from Danang University

conducted “An Investigation into English Lexical Devices Denoting
Negation versus Vietnamese Equivalents” (2010), in which the ways that
express the conception of negation in English and Vietnamese equivalents
are clarified. All those books and studies have revealed typical and very
interesting features of negation in general as well as negation in English and
Vietnamese in particular. However, there has been no investigation on a
particular story so far. Therefore, the investigation into some English
negative structures used in the bilingual story “An ideal husband” by Oscar
Wilder so as to point out their syntactic and semantic features with reference
to the Vietnamese equivalents in the translated version “Người chồng lí
tưởng” by Hoàng Nguyên.
2.2. Review of theoretical background
This chapter offers some theoretical background on negation in English and
in Vietnamese in brief, to which the study related.
2.2.1. Overview of negation.
There have been many definitions of negation in English. In the
Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics,
negation is defined as “contradicting the meaning or part of the meaning of
sentences.”
Horn (2010) gives out the definition about negation: “In many ways,
negation is what makes us human, imbuing us with the capacity to deny,
contradict, misrepresent, lie, and convey irony.”(p.1). Lindstadd (2007)
argues, “Negation is a language universal, found in all known languages,
and unique to human languages”. (p.3). A further uniform characteristic is
that sentential negation (including what could be termed “clausal negation”)
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always involves “the addition of an overt morpheme to an affirmative
clause”

(Lindstad

2007:24).

The function

of negation

is

fairly

straightforward: it negates parts of or the entire sentence or clause.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English, published in 1994 shares
the same and adds some more information that “Negation is the act of
stating that something does not exist or is untrue”, furthermore the
Vietnamese Dictionary, published in 1998 by the Centre of dictionary and
Danang Publishing House says that negation is the act of rejecting the
existence, the necessity of something; the opposition of affirmation. Collins
Cobuilt (Collins Cobuild, 1990, p.206) concludes, “Negation is used when
you want to say something is not true, is not happening, or not the case”.
Although there is wide variety of definition of negation, I myself totally
agree to some main points as follows:
Negation is a part of people’s cognition activity and communication
process. It is a basic category of thinking, of formal logic. It is the
opposition of the affirmative category.
2.2.2. Negation under some linguists’ viewpoint
2.2.2.1. According to the Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching
and Applied Linguistics
The dictionary shows that “The main negator (negator is a word that
makes a negative sentence”) is “not”, often in its contracted form “n’t” and
combined with an auxiliary, for example: isn’t going/ hasn’t gone/ didn’t
go/ doesn’t want to go. But there are other negators such as: “hardly ever”,
“never”, “seldom”, “neither”, “nothing”.
E.g. Although they lived quite close, they never visited us.

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Besides, negation can be expressed by negative pronouns, e.g:“There was
nobody there”, or by negative affixes, e.g. “That was unkind!”
Some varieties of English may be double negative, such as: “I haven’t done
nothing”.Double negation is merely used for emphasis. Often double
negation is frowned on as being non-standard. However, it is typically used
in a number of English Dialects and it follows a definite pattern, e.g. the use
of no instead of any in the following example: “I didn’t hurt nobody!”. In
recent grammatical theory, interest has been shown in the scope of the
negator, that is, how much of the sentence is actually negated and in what
way the meaning of the sentence can change if the negator is put in a
different place, for instance, two sentences: I didn’t think she could do it and
I thought she couldn’t do it don’t really mean the same.
2.2.2.2. “Negation in English” by Klima
Klima (1964) presents certain criteria in identifying negative structures. His
emphasis was on the transitional “not”. He determined over some patterns
of the negative and exemplified as below:
Pattern1: Superficial negatives: not, none, never.
Pattern2: Not+ negative word: didn’t, no one, was not.
Pattern3: Tag questions+ falling intonation on the tag:
E.g. You have been to New York, haven’t you?
Mary isn’t going to school today, isn’t she?
Pattern4: Not- even tags permissible in only negative sentences:
No one ate the food, not even the dog.
Pattern5: Either- conjoining sentences:
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I didn’t see Mary this morning and Tom didn’t either.
Pattern6: Neither tags: The children shouldn’t take that medicine, and
neither should she.
Pattern7: Incomplete negative: hardly, scarcely, rarely, seldom.
2.2.2.3. Halliday and Hassan
Halliday and Hassan (1976) looked at the issue of negation and polarity.
They pointed out that polarity is normally expressed at the beginning of the
verbal group. A negative verbal group will have “n’t” or “not” attached to
the first word if it is finite e.g. could not come. If it is non-finite, it has not;
it usually appears as the first word e.g. not having eating, not to have eaten.
Other negative adverbs like never, hardly, hardly ever may occur in place of
“not”.
According to their findings, the category of negative is not clearly defined,
but is revealed by the choice of tag.
2.2.2.4. Quirk et al (1973):
Quirk et al (1973) keeps the opinion of negative sentences entailing the
operator, requiring the insertion of “not” (or in its contracted form “n’t”)
between the operator and the predication. His makes intensive contributions
to the study of negation. He discovers the ambiguity in negation as well as
the similarity between questions and negations. Quirk et al also states that
questions like statements can be positive or negative.
Moreover, negative preposition such as from, off, out of were also
identified. According to Quirk et al, those prepositions may be defined by
simply adding the word “not” to the corresponding positive preposition.
E.g. She was away from work for a week.
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= She was not at work for a week.
Especially, Quirk et al are among the few who have looked into this area
and they say most disjuncts can be modified and several can be premodified
by “not”, especially “surprising” and some

with negative prefixes

(unexpectedly, unreasonably, unwisely, unusually).
Quirk et al also examines the transfer of the negative form a subordinate
that-clause, which it belongs to the main clauses semantically. E.g. I don’t
believe he is right. It can be transferred to: I believe he isn’t right. This kind
of transfer is limited to verbs of belief of assumption, e.g. think, believe,
suppose, fancy, expect, imagine and reckon. He proposes assertive and nonassertive negatives as the table below:
Table 1: Assertive and non-assertive negatives
S/No

Syntactic

Assertive

Non-

Negative

assertive
1.

Determiner

Some (one or Any

no

the other)
2

Determiner

One or the Either

Neither

other
3.

Pronoun

Some

Any

4.

Pronoun

One or the Either

None
Neither

other
He also provides the overview of negative structures (Including predicate,
subject, complement and adverbial negation.

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Among those linguists is Quirk et al. In the next part, his concept and
characteristics of negation will be described.
2.2.3. Characteristics of negation
Huddleson and Pullum (2002) provide a very clear description on the
characteristics of negation in English.
Unlike affirmation, negation can be identified by words. (e.g.: not, no,
never) or affixes (e.g.: dis, un-). Negation can interact with other words in
special ways. For example, negated clauses use more different connective
adjuncts than positive clauses do: “neither, nor” instead of “either, or”. The
so-called “negatively oriented polarity-sensitive items” (Huddleston and
Plum 2002) contain among many others, words starting with “any-”
(anybody, anyone, anywhere, etc.), the modal auxiliaries “dare” and “need”
and the grammatical units “at all”, “much” and “until”. Negation in verbs
usually requires an auxiliary; if “none” is present, the auxiliary “do” is
inserted (I read the paper vs. I didn’t read the paper).
2.2.3.1. Scope of negation
Negation is exclusive to humans and can be used for different purposes:
reverse the polarity of a statement (e.g. She didn’t see him), emphasize how
great or extreme something is (e.g. It was nothing less than a disaster) or
make weaker claims (e.g. Her husband character is not good). Negated
statements often carry positive meaning beneath the direct meaning and
detect precious knowledge. For instance, “Peter didn’t go to Moscow to
relax”, a reader will interpret that Peter went to Moscow but his purpose is
not to relax.
Huddleston and Pullum (2002) state that the scope is made up with the
part of the meaning that is being negated and the focus is that part of the
scope that is most prominently or explicitly negated.
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“The scope of the negation normally extends from the negative word itself
to the end of the clause, or to the beginning of a final adjunct”. (Quick,
p.187)
In the view of Eagleson, the part of a sentence or clause that is controlled by
“not” or other negative words is called the scope of negation.
The scope of negation is mentioned to indicate the stretch of language
over which the negative has its effect. The relation between negative words
and non-assertive words that they govern will happen in scope of negation
(that is part of language that the negative meaning operates through). The
scope of negation formally extents from the negative words to the end of the
clause or to the beginning of a final adjunct. The subject and any adjuncts
occur before a final predication often lies outside it. Hence, the operator can
be within or outside the scope. Some following examples are given for
illustration:
E.g.: I definitely didn’t speak to him. (1) (Quirk, p.188)
Versus I didn’t definitely speak to him (2) (Quirk, p.188)
In (1), the scope of negation stretches from “not” to “him”, subject (I),
adjunct (definetely), operator (did) are excluded, the predication takes full
negative effect:
(1) = It’s definite that I did not speak to him
Sentence (2) “I” and operator “did” are put outside while adjunct is inside,
negative meaning extends from negative word to the end of the clause. It’s
not definitely that I did.
The scope of negation also extends to the beginning of a final adjunct.
E.g.: Jim did not arrive at office in the morning (3)
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Versus: Jim did not arrive at office in the morning (4)
In two examples above, final adjunct as adverbial maybe within and outside
scope:
(3)= It is not true that Jim arrived at office in the morning.
(4)= In the morning, Jim did not arrive at office.
However, when an adverbial is in the final position, it may or may not lie
outside the scope.
E.g. He wasn’t listening all the time. (i.e. I listened none of the time)
and He wasn’t listening all the time. (i.e. I listened some of the time).
When assertive forms are used, it must lie outside the scope.
E.g. He didn’t listen to some of the speakers. (i.e. I listened to some)
He didn’t listen to some of the speakers. (i.e. I listened to none)
The negative clause that has adjunct is ambiguous to interpret.Since
adjuncts are optional elements and they have no fixed positions, the listeners
may understand the negative meaning in their own ways.
The scope of negation only works with non-assertive forms. In the negative
with assertive forms, the scope does not include them. It is because the
assertive forms do not exert negative effect.
E.g.: He did not do some exercises ≈ He did some exercises.
He did not do any exercises ≈ He did no exercises.
A negative with assertive-form implies another affirmative or is regarded as
“partial negative”.

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Apart from adverbials, the ambiguity is also made by an operator in a
negative, here, operator is not a normal auxiliary expressing grammatical
function, but a modal auxiliary. With a negative modal auxiliary, verb
phrase falls into a situation that the negation belongs to main verb or
auxiliary, the interpretation of the negative depends on the negative meaning
of modal auxiliaries themselves.
2.2.3.2. Focus of negation
Beside the scope, the focus of negation is also needed to incorporate.
Focus of negation places a stress on particular part of a negative clause,
which helps to make the notice of the contrast of meaning implicited in the
negative, at the same time indicates the rest of the clause in the positive. The
focus in a negative clause may be the subject, the main verb, the object, the
complement, the adjunct or any words or phrases under the constrative
stress. In other words, the focus of negation is to place effect on single
word, which belongs to either open-class item in clause. Grammatically, the
focus of negation in English is devided into two types: end- focus and
contrastive focus.
End-focus
Richard Nordquist states that “End- focus is the principle that most
important imformation in a clause or sentence is placed at the end. It is a
normal characteristic of sentence structures in English”. (Richard,
About.com Grammar and Composition)
Mentioning the definition of end focus, Quirk (1974; 407) states that end
- focus is the chief prominence on the last- open items (verbs, adjectives,
nouns, adverbs) and proper noun. "To be technically accurate, end focus is
given to the last open-class item or proper noun in a clause” (Quirk and
Greenbaum 1973). In other words, the end focus is used to withdraw
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hearer’s attention to information that speaker wants to convey; when a
negative clause has end-focus, only last item is negated the rest is positive.
E.g.: Jim wasn’t in his office ≈ (Jim was somewhere, not in his office)
They haven’t been to Da Nang City ≈ (They have gone somewhere, but not
to Da Nang City)
Contrastive-focus
Special or contrastive focus may be placed at earlier points and falls on
any of the non-final elements of the clause or final item, which belongs to
closed-system items (prepositions, pronouns, etc...). Using contrastive
focus, only one item is negated and the rest of clause is understood in
positive sense.
E.g.: Jim did not phone Hannah yesterday.
≈ (Someone phoned Hannah yesterday not Jim)
Jim did not phone Hannah yesterday.
≈ (Jim phoned someone yesterday, but not Hannah)
The contrastive focus indicates which element is negated in a clause to
contrast it with something or somebody already mentioned. Contrastive
focus falls on a final item, but not end-focus.
E.g.: “He is not looking for `me” ≈ (He is looking for someone, not me)
Her sister was not `out ≈ (She was in)
Operator also gets a contrastive focus, which places contrastive emphasis on
tense.

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E.g.: Tam `didn’t study English two years ago. (Now, she is learning
English)
Operator is used in elliptical replies to concentrate attention on new
information by avoiding repetition of given information.
E.g.: Have you phoned your parents? - No, I ` haven’t. ≈ (I haven’t phoned
my parents)
Did you go out last night? - No, I `didn’t. ≈ (I didn’t go out last night)
The participation of end focus and a contrastive focus makes the focus of
negation not as ambiguous as the scope of negations they also have a certain
contribution to finding appropriate account for ambiguity in the scope of
negation.
2.2.3.3. The relationship between scope and focus of negation
The scope and focus are so interrelated that the scope must be inside the
focus. Scope is connected to all elements whose individual falsity would
make the negated statement strictly true. Focus is the element of the scope
that is intended to be interpreted as false to make the overall negative true.
In other words, they are interconnected in such a way that the scope must
include the focus. In an independent clause the scope of negation covers all
the negative effect.The extent of the scope is identified by the position of
the focus. Indeed, since the scope of negation is often not clearly signaled,
“we can indicate it by where we place the information focus” (Quirk,
p.188). The following is an example of the scope of negation which is
extended to include a subordinate clause of reason, with a contrastive fallrise to emphasize this:
I didn’t leave home because I was afraid of my father. (Quick, p.189)

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