In this feature, we ask what the position of the negative marker is with respect to the main verb. In most of our languages, it immediately precedes the verb, but a number of languages deviate from this pattern in interesting ways. We focus on one particular type of negative construction, called standard negation (following Miestamo 2005). By this we mean the negative marker that is used for sentential negation in declarative main clauses, as in She did not come. Nonstandard negation constructions such as constituent negation (e.g. Not she came), negation in subordinate clauses, in questions (e.g. Didn’t she come?), and in imperatives are disregarded for this feature. See Chapter 56 for some information on negative imperatives (also called prohibitives). In considering the position of negative markers here, it does not matter whether the negative marker is a free word (=particle) or an affix (see Chapter 100 on negative morpheme types). If there are several different negative markers with different positions, or the negative marker may occur in different constructions, several values have been selected for a single language. In WALS, Dryer (2011b) examines the position of negative morphemes with respect to the verb.
We distinguish six different values for this feature:
|Before the verb||57||8||65|
|Immediately after the verb||2||5||7|
|After verb plus postverbal object||5||2||7|
|Bipartite, before verb and immediately after||0||1||1|
|Bipartite, before verb and after object||3||1||4|
|Bipartite, other possibilities||1||0||1|
By far the most common type in our languages is preverbal position (value 1). This practically always means immediately preverbal position (though typically preceding other tense-aspect markers). Some examples are given in (1a)-(1c).
The preverbal negation element may preserve the lexifier’s negative marker, or it may contain a new negative marker, such as no (or sometimes never, nomore) in English-based creoles (cf. 2a), (nun)ka (from nunca ‘never’) in Portuguese-based creoles (cf. 2b).
It is only rarely that preverbal negation precedes the subject as well. In Pidgin Hawaiian (cf. 3), this patterns was inherited from the lexifier (Hawaiian), and it alternates with a more distinctively pidgin pattern with subject-negation-verb order. (Chabacano also has pre-subject negation.)
Immediately postverbal position (value 2) is much less common:
This is of course the pattern of standard French (with main verbs), so some French-based creoles have this as one possibility (cf. 5). However, since the French negator pas follows auxiliaries which precede the main verb, these languages generally also allow preverbal negation in some patterns (cf. 6), or require it (cf. 1a).
A pattern that is almost as common as immdiately postverbal negation is negation that follows not only a verb, but also a postverbal object (value 3). This is found especially in a number of languages in Africa (Lingala, Sango, Principense, but also Berbice Dutch).
The negator usually follows not only an object, but other postverbal elements as well, even subordinate clauses. In such cases, it may have scope over the main clause only, over the subordinate clause only, or even (as in 8) over both.
A few contact languages also show bipartite negation, like French ne...pas, though no French-based language has preserved this. Note that bipartite negation is particularly common in central and western Africa (Dryer 2011b), so here the APiCS languages clearly show African influence. The two markers can precede and immediately follow the verb (as in Standard French) (value 4). In APiCS this is found only in Media Lengua (9), with preverbal no from Spanish and postverbal -chu from Quechua.
But the second marker can also follow an object (value 5), or even a subordinate clause, as in (10). This occurs mainly in the Portuguese-based Gulf of Guinea creoles.
A Caribbean creole that has this is Palenquero, where both elements are nu (see example (11); but note that single nu is also possible, either preverbally or following the object).
The most complex kind of bipartite negation is found in Afrikaans (value 6), where both negation morphemes are nie. The first nie follows the main verb in VO order (cf. 12a) and precedes it in OV order (cf. 12b). The second nie follows at the end.
If the two negation morphemes were to occur next to each other, only one occurs (hy gaan nie ‘he does not go’).
In the world’s languages, negative markers tend to precede the verb, but the tendency is somewhat less strong than in the APiCS languages. In Dryer’s (2011b) sample of 1326 languages, about half of the languages have a preverbal negative morpheme, while less than a third have a postverbal negative morpheme. (Among postverbal negative morphemes, affixes are more common than negative words; only one quarter of negative words is postverbal.) About one sixth of the world’s languages have bipartite negation.