Documentation for the Grammar Matrix Customization Sentential Negation Library


This document explains how to fill out the Sentential Negation page of the Grammar Matrix Customization questionnaire and presents background information on the sentential negation library of the Grammar Matrix Customization System (Bender et al., 2002; Bender and Flickinger, 2005; Bender et al., 2010). General instructions on using the questionnaire can be found here.

Citing the Sentential Negation Library

The standard reference for the Sentential Negation Library and its implementations is Crowgey 2012. The full reference and .bib entry can be found here.


The Sentential Negation page allows you to specify a range of values for the negation strategies that your language employs by choosing from pre-defined options provided to you on the page. Please note that the work on the Sentential Negation page in Matrix Customization questionnaire is still in progress. For example, some menu options under bipartite negation are only present as previews of future implementations and as of now provide no functionality. For more information about bipartite and other negation strategies under development please refer to the Upcoming Work section.

Please note that this part of the questionnaire is for describing sentential negation, and not constituent negation. Examples of these two different types of negation, referring to which part of the sentence is being negated, i.e. the entire sentence in sentential negation or only a constituent in constituent negation are below:

The Sentential Negation page in Matrix Customization questionnaire is divided into three sections, allowing you to specify the number of morphemes required for sentential negation in your language in the first section, describe the negation morphemes in more detail, and model asymmetric negation if applicable to your language. Please note that the section describing negation morphemes in detail is defined by the negation strategy you selected in the first section and appears only after you made that selection.

Number of morphemes

The coverage of sentential negation in Grammar Matrix is based on the assumption that the sentential negation usually requires presence of overt negation morphemes. The pre-defined options describing the number of overt morphemes required for sentential negation that Grammar Matrix customization system provides to you are:

These five negation strategies are described in more detail below:

Negation without an overt marker ("zero" negation)

Simple negation

Bipartite negation

Tripartite negation

Negation with more than 3 overt markers

Asymmetric Negation

If there are certain conditions under which negation is allowed/disallowed in your language, you can model it in the Asymmetric Negation section on the Sentential Negation questionnaire page. You will need to click on the arrow in the option provided to you by Matrix Customization system questionnaire:

There are two ways that you can model asymmetric negation in your language:

After you select a negation strategy as applicable to your language on the Sentential Negation page, you will be able to specify values for negation (plus or minus) and what part of speech it is specified on in the verb types and auxiliary verb types on the Lexicon page and in the lexical rule types on Morphology page. Please refer to the Analyses section below for more information about choices you make on the Sentential Negation page and how they affect the semantics of lexical items.


Sentential negation is a complicated phenomenon in terms of the variety of negation strategies employed by world languages. The number of negation markers, their positions within the sentence, their morphosyntactic roles vary tremendously from language to language. The Negation library of the Grammar Matrix Customization system was developed and continues to be extended to provide a broader coverage of negation across various languages.


To cover various negation strategies employed by languages, eight lexical rules were implemented in Grammar Matrix: basic-infl-neg, val-and-cont-change-infl-neg-rule, form-change-neg-rule, comps-change-neg-rule, neg-sat-trigger-rule, val-change-neg-rule-1, val-change-neg-lex-rule-2, val-change-neg-sat-trigger-rule. Additionally, two auxiliaries for constructions head-comp-neg and head-mod-neg were added to the auxiliaries already existing in Grammar Matrix, as well as several free lexical items to implement complements and modifiers. You can find a detailed description of each rule and lexical items created to support negation in Grammar Matrix in the section 5.2.1 in Crowgey 2012.

The negation strategies you choose on the Sentential Negation page are stored in the choices file. Below is a snippet of code related to Negation from choices file for a language that uses one overt morpheme for negation, which is expressed through inflection and with a HEAD feature [NEGATED luk] enabled in the Asymmetric Negation section:


When you define negation values on the Sentential Negation customization page, your starter grammar unlocks the features [negation plus] and [negation minus] available for your use on the Lexicon and on the Morphology pages.

Feature [negation plus] allows you to add negative semantics to the lexical rule types as applicable to your language. Feature [negation minus] allows you to specify lexical items that are incompatible with negation, i.e. disallow negation. For example, if you choose a 'simple', 'negation by inflection' strategy on the Sentential Negation page, specifying [negation plus] on bound inflection on the Morphology page adds negative semantics to that lexical rule type.

Please refer to Chapter 4 in Crowgey 2012 for more information on Analyses.

Upcoming Work

Although the Sentential Negation library already covers various negation strategies, it could be extended further in order to provide a more throughout coverage of negation across languages.

For example, in addition to the extension of the bipartite negation coverage that is still under development, providing support for languages that use zero or three overt negation markers would be one of the possible improvements to the negation section in Grammar Matrix Customization system. Although these languages are quite rare compared to the languages with one or two overt negation markers, implementing zero and tripartite negation strategies would signify a more complete coverage of negation.

Other improvements to the currently existing negation section include providing support for multiple negation constructions and EDGE inflection, i.e. inflection that occurs at the edge of the phrase, which are not yet covered by Matrix Customization system.

For more information about future work on negation section of the Grammar Matrix Customization system please refer to Chapter 7 in Crowgey 2012.


Crowgey, Joshua. 2012. The Syntactic Exponence of Sentential Negation: a model for the LinGO Grammar Matrix. Masters thesis, University of Washington.

Givón, Talmy. 1984. Syntax: a typological-functional introduction [vol. III]. John Benjamins. Amsterdam, Philidelphia.

MatrixDoc/SententialNegation (last edited 2013-02-27 19:51:50 by AntskeFokkens)

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