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Patterns of negation: The relationship between NO and NOT in regional varieties of English

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Abstract

The choice between NO and NOT in the expression of the negative in English has been found to vary with lexical, syntagmatic, and contextual factors such as medium, register and regional variety. This paper uses matching data from British, American, Australian and New Zealand corpora, in order to examine regional differences in the distribution of NO and NOT, and linguistic factors that promote their use.The frequency of NO is everywhere boosted by its use (a) as a reaction signal, and (b) in a variety of relatively fixed two-part collocations, such as <i>no doubt, no way </i>etc. With these stripped away, NO emerges as a discretionary resource for both speakers and writers when making negative statements, but it is used much more frequently in NZ English writing than either British or Australian, by the evidence of their respective ICE corpora.<br />In further analysis of its relative frequency in different written registers, NO occurs more often in fiction than other forms of writing, in four-way comparisons of data from the parallel standard corpora of British, American, Australian and New Zealand English. Thus NO negation is particularly associated with creative and crafted writing, while NOT (N’T) is the default in all other kinds of written and spoken discourse. The combined registerial and regional factors make New Zealand fiction writing a stronghold of the older pattern of negation with NO.

References

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