Negation in Clause Combining

Negation in Clause Combining: Typological and usage-based perspectives

Funded by the Academy of Finland, 2020–2024

Researchers: Matti Miestamo (University of Helsinki), Ksenia Shagal (University of Helsinki), Olli Silvennoinen (University of Helsinki)


There are approximately 7,000 languages in the world, and each of them has ways to express negation. Negation has received a lot of attention from linguists, but there are still topics that are poorly understood. In this project, we focus on one such topic: negation in clause combinations.

Many languages have a separate strategy for negating dependent clauses, for example, and some dependent clause types are in themselves negative. However, we still do not know much about these and related issues, especially from a cross-linguistic perspective. In our project, we study the relationship between negation and clause combining in individual languages, in specific areas (especially Europe and Northern Eurasia), and in a world-wide language sample. In addition to reference grammars, we study actual texts and field recordings. By doing this, we make the context of language use a part of cross-linguistic comparison and provide a more holistic perspective for understanding negation in language.