Front field negation in spoken Swedish

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The Swedish negating adverb <i>inte</i> &#8216;not&#8217; usually occurs in the middle of a clause but can also occur in the first constituent position, in the syntactic front field. Fronted negation is common in the spoken varieties of Swedish in Finland, but less typical in the spoken varieties in Sweden. The question is whether or not front field negation is an archaism in Finland Swedish. As there are no recordings of older spoken Swedish, a corpus of drama dialogue from 1725&#8211;2000 is consulted. The results show that front field negation is more frequent in the plays from the older periods and matches the pragmatic contexts that are typical of the construction in Present-day Finland Swedish. This historical material suggests that front field negation belongs to an older conversational style in Swedish that is still prevalent in Finland Swedish and it is also reinforced by a parallel usage in Finnish.


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