Negation and lexical morphology across languages: Insights from a trilingual translation corpus
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This paper proposes an exploratory cross-linguistic bird’s eye-view of negative lexical morphology by examining English, French and Italian negative derivational affixes. More specifically, it aims to uncover the French and Italian equivalents of the English affixes de, dis, in, non, un and less. These include morphological equivalents (i.e. negative prefixes in French and Italian) as well as non-morphological equivalents (i.e. single words devoid of negative affixation, multi-word units or paraphrases). The study relies on a nine-million-word trilingual translation corpus made up of texts from the Europarl corpus and shows that the systematic analysis of translation data makes it possible to identify the major morphological dissimilarities between the three languages investigated. The frequent use of non-morphological translations in French and Italian reflects fundamental differences between the source language (English) and the two target lan-guages (French and Italian), hence pointing to possible translation difficulties. Morphological translations, on the other hand, bring to light cross-linguistic similarities in the use of negative affixes.
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