Negative inversion and negative movement in African American English and Southern White English : an existential analysis



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This paper considers the syntax of negation and negative inversion (NI) in two negative concord varieties of English— African American English (AAE) and Southern White English (SWE). NI, typically characterized by a clause-initial negative auxiliary followed by a negative indefinite subject, is argued to be directly linked to negative concord and therefore unavailable in mainstream varieties of English. Previous analyses in the literature on NI are considered, and an existential analysis is favored over an auxiliary inversion analysis. In contrast to previous existential analyses, NI is argued to result from movement of the negative indefinite subject to a position within a negative phrasal projection, and NI constructions are distinguished from negative existential be constructions. Support for this analysis comes from comparison of the differences in NI in AAE and SWE, as well as comparing NI in both varieties to NI in earlier varieties of AAE and to negative constructions cross-linguistically.