Negative inversion without negation: On 'fuck'-inversion in British English
Craig Sailor
August 2017

I describe and analyze a novel English phenomenon that I call 'fuck'-inversion, which conveys emphatic negation despite lacking overt negative morphology: "Am I fuck wearing one of those!" (= "I'm definitely not wearing one of those"). I argue that this phenomenon, which is only attested in varieties spoken in the British Isles, gets its negative semantics from a silent negative operator in the left periphery of the clause. This operator takes widest scope: for example, it scopes over the subject position, exceptionally licensing NPIs there. I claim that this operator is the silent analogue of the initial negative XP involved in canonical negative inversion (e.g. "No way will I be wearing one of those!"). Thus, 'fuck'-inversion sheds light on the broader typology of inversion phenomena expressing emphatic polarity, and the status of verb second syntax more generally.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003633
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Cambridge Occasional Papers in Linguistics 10
keywords: inversion, negative inversion, negation, verb second, v2, syntax
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