Classical NEG Raising

From Linguistic Inquiry Monographs

Classical NEG Raising

An Essay on the Syntax of Negation

By Chris Collins and Paul M. Postal

Foreword by Laurence R. Horn

An extended argument for a syntactic view of NEG raising with consequences for the syntax of negation and negative polarity items.





An extended argument for a syntactic view of NEG raising with consequences for the syntax of negation and negative polarity items.

In this book, Chris Collins and Paul Postal consider examples such the one below on the interpretation where Nancy thinks that this course is not interesting:Nancy doesn't think this course is interesting.

They argue such examples instantiate a kind of syntactic raising that they term Classical NEG Raising. This involves the raising of a NEG (negation) from the embedded clause to the matrix clause. Collins and Postal develop three main arguments to support their claim. First, they show that Classical NEG Raising obeys island constraints. Second, they document that a syntactic raising analysis predicts both the grammaticality and particular properties of what they term Horn clauses (named for Laurence Horn, who discovered them). Finally, they argue that the properties of certain parenthetical structures strongly support the syntactic character of Classical NEG Raising.

Collins and Postal also offer a detailed analysis of the main argument in the literature against a syntactic raising analysis (which they call the Composed Quantifier Argument). They show that the facts appealed to in this argument not only fail to conflict with their approach but actually support a syntactic view. In the course of their argument, Collins and Postal touch on a variety of related topics, including the syntax of negative polarity items, the status of sequential negation, and the scope of negative quantifiers.


$74.00 X ISBN: 9780262027311 296 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$40.00 X ISBN: 9780262525862 296 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


Laurence R. Horn.


  • This monograph is the sharpest, most thorough introduction to NEG Raising. Whether or not it succeeds in defending NEG Raising, it uncovers intriguing novel data and generalizations, providing the readers with everything they need to draw their own conclusions. The data illustrating 'Horn clauses' and 'quasi-Horn clauses' are fascinating.

    Ljiljana Progovac

    Professor of Linguistics, Wayne State University, Detroit, and author of Negative and Positive Polarity

  • Collins and Postal present a strong series of arguments in favor of a more syntactic approach to negation and polarity items than is currently in vogue, building mostly on data from complex sentences. NEG Raising is reinstated as an important movement operation and its syntactic nature argued for on the basis of a broad spectrum of island phenomena. Highlights are a new classification of polarity items, a detailed treatment of negative inversion in embedded contexts (Horn clauses), and a wealth of new observations regarding the complex interaction of polarity licensing and syntactic structure. Essential reading for anyone interested in this fascinating area of linguistics.

    Jack Hoeksema

    University of Groningen

  • This is a superb monograph by two world-renowned linguists who have been at the forefront of innovation in syntax for decades. It brings a wealth of novel and insightful observations to bear in support of the existence of NEG Raising as a syntactic phenomenon, and thereby makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of the relation between syntax, semantics and pragmatics.

    Andrew Radford

    Emeritus Professor, University of Essex