“Negation in Benjamin Franklin’s Writings: A Stylistic Analysis of his Autobiography and Letters”.

Bibliographical details

Iyeiri, Yoko. 2018. “Negation in Benjamin Franklin’s Writings: A Stylistic Analysis of his Autobiography and Letters”, in Proceedings of the 4th Asia Pacific Corpus Linguistics Conference (APCLC 2018), Takamatsu, Japan, September 17-19, ed. Yukio Tono and Hitoshi Ishihara, pp. 178-183. (Downloadable PDF) Also downloadable at http://apcla.net/Proc.zip (large)

Negative constructions in Benjamin Franklin’s English

This is a paper presented at the 4th Asia Pacific Corpus Linguistics Conference (APCLC 2018), Takamatsu, Japan, September 17-19, 2018. It discusses various aspects of negation in Benjamin Franklin’s English, including the frequencies of negation itself, of the negative adverb not (as against other negative forms such as no and never), and of the use of the auxiliary do in negative sentences. It also deals with the parenthetical no doubt, the neitheror construction instead of neither nor, and or no (instead of or not).

The findings in this paper include: negation is the most frequent in Benjamin Franklin’s letters to Deborah, his wife, confirming the contention in previous studies that it is more frequent in informal style than in formal style. It has also been proved in our data that negative constructions with the negative adverb not are the most common in Benjamin Franklin’s letters to Deborah, again showing that negation with not is more commonly attested in informal style than in formal style. The establishment of do is close to completion in Benjamin Franklin’s English, but has not reached 100% yet. The ratio of do-negation is the lowest in his Autobiography, confirming again the proposition in previous studies that the increase of do is a change from below. In Benjamin Franklin’s English, negative constructions without do are restricted to a small number of verbs such as come, distract, do, drink, eat, expect, forget, go, let, make, mean, mistake, sale, speak, teach, as well as know, doubt, and have. They are also restricted to some fixed environments like the imperative Speak not and conditional if I mistake not.

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