The role of intonation in the use of double negatives in Dutch
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Like for instance English, Dutch is a so-called double negation (DN) language. This means that if in Dutch you use two negatives in a single clause, they will negate each other's meaning and yield a positive interpretation. Another way to interpret double negatives is to have them together express a single negation with no cancellation; this is called negative concord (NC) and it is the expected meaning in, for instance, the NC languages Italian, Spanish, and Romanian. While Dutch is a DN language, which means we expect double negatives in Dutch to convey a DN meaning, it is still possible to convey an NC meaning in Dutch for double negatives. For this thesis, I performed a corpus study which confirmed a substantial occurrence of NC meanings for double negatives in Dutch. This lead to the main question of this thesis: to what extent do we use intonation to disambiguate between DN readings and NC readings for double negatives in Dutch? In order to answer this question I first performed a production experiment to explore the intonation patterns that are spontaneously produced when confronted with double negatives in either a DN context or an NC context. Afterwards I used the intonation patterns found in the production experiment to perform a perception experiment. This experiment aimed at finding out whether participants would indeed judge double negatives uttered with certain intonation patterns to convey either a DN meaning or an NC meaning.