A Typological and Comparative Perspective on Negation in Arawak Languages

in Negation in Arawak Languages


This chapter presents a typological and comparative overview of negation in Arawak languages, focusing on standard negation, prohibitive constructions, and reflexes of the Proto-Arawak privative *ma-. This overview draws on the eight language-specific studies in this volume, as well as published sources on 19 other Arawak languages. These languages are typologized in terms of the structural characteristics of their negation systems, and in terms of Miestamo’s (2005) influential notion of paradigmatic and structural (a)symmetries between negated main clauses and their affirmative counterparts. Prohibitive constructions are typologized on the basis of Van de Auwera and Lejeune (2005), which distinguishes constructions based on whether negation is expressed in the same manner as in standard negation constructions, and whether mood is expressed in the same manner as in imperatives. The comparative overview examines reflexes of the Proto-Arawak privative, and suggests that this element originally derived privative stative predicates from nouns, and that it subsequently acquired additional functions, including subordinate negation, stative predicate negation, and in a restricted set of languages, standard negation. Also noted are the similarities between the properties of negation systems in Arawak languages that exhibit negative auxiliaries, and those that exhibit interactions between negation particles and reality status inflection.