The project investigates negation in clause combining in a typological and usage-based perspective. Large-scale typological work on negation has thus far ignored negation in complex clauses (see Miestamo 2017), and cognitive and usage-based approaches (e.g. Langacker 1987; Goldberg 1995; Bybee 2010; Diessel 2019) have paid relatively little attention to negation. It is these research gaps that the project will address. The goals of the project include describing and understanding the world-wide cross-linguistic variation in the expression of negation in dependent clauses and clause-combination more generally, including a detailed investigation of conjunctions and other linking devices used with negative clauses. Special attention will be paid to the languages of Northern Eurasia, an area where it is particularly common that dependent clauses take non-finite forms, and properties of negative non-finite forms will be studied in depth, first in Eurasian languages and then expanding the scope to the whole world. An important perspective in accounting for the cross-linguistic variation is whether and how the negative shows structural differences (asymmetries) with regard to the corresponding affirmative in addition to negative markers (Miestamo 2005). Explanations for such asymmetries can be sought in the functional properties of negation.

The data for the typological comparisons will come from published descriptions, corpora and fieldwork. The project will employ both monolingual and parallel corpora to study the effect of language use on the shapes that grammars take in the domain of negation. The corpus-based and typological perspectives will complement each other in many ways and corpus work will allow for the testing of proposed explanations of cross-linguistic findings (see Hawkins 2004). The project will bridge important gaps in typological work on negation and contribute to theoretical and methodological renewal in bringing together typological and usage-based perspectives in the domain of negation and beyond. The project’s main goals are scientific, but there are clear ways in which the project can benefit society, including extending the knowledge base for artificial intelligence and language-technology solutions, as well as by raising awareness of linguistic diversity and supporting language minorities.



  • Bybee, Joan. 2010. Language, Usage and Cognition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Diessel, Holger. 2019. The Grammar Network: How Linguistic Structure is Shaped by Language Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Goldberg, Adele E. 1995. Constructions: A Construction Grammar Approach to Argument Structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Hawkins, John A. 2004. Efficiency and Complexity in Grammars. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Langacker, Ronald W. 1987. Foundations of Cognitive Grammar, Volume 1: Theoretical Prerequisites. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  • Miestamo, Matti. 2005. Standard negation: The negation of declarative verbal main clauses in a typological perspective (Empirical Approaches to Language Typology 31). Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Miestamo, Matti. 2017. Negation. In A. Aikhenvald & R. M. W. Dixon, eds., The Cambridge Handbook of Linguistic Typology, 405-439. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.