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Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, v17 n2 p53-67 2013

We examine the characteristics of NDI (negative degree inversion) and its relation with other inversion phenomena such as SVI (subject-verb inversion) and SAI (subject-auxiliary inversion). The negative element in the NDI construction may be" not," a negative adverbial, or a negative verb. In this respect, NDI has similar licensing environments to those of negative polarity items (NPIs). NPIs are licensed only in a negative environment. Borroff (2006) deals with characteristics of NDI in detail, but she does not explain the relation between NDI and other inversion phenomena in English. Therefore, she fails to capture the generality of the two. I argue that NDI is related to other ICs such as SVI and SAI, focusing on the very nature of these constructions. In English, degree-modified adjectives typically follow the determiner, but they may precede the article in NDI constructions. I argue that this noncanonical word order is related to a specific function, i.e., Green's (1980) emphatic function. I also argue that the NDI shares this same function with other ICs, such as the SVI and SAI constructions. In this respect, the nature of the NDI will be more clearly revealed when we examine these inversion phenomena together, not respectively. Therefore, further studies should be focused on why a speaker uses this noncanonical word order instead of the canonical word order. (Contains 5 footnotes.)

Descriptors: Sentence Structure, Structural Analysis (Linguistics), Word Order, Language Research, Form Classes (Languages), English

Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics. Department of English, Namseoul University, 21 Maeju-ri, Seonghwan-eup, Cheonan-city, Choongnam, Korea 330-707. Tel: +82-2-3290-1995; e-mail: paalkorea[at]; Web site:

Autor: Sung, Tae-Soo


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