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Korean Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 24

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Korea Journal of English Language and Linguistics - Vol. 24, No. 0, pp. 141-154
Abbreviation: KASELL
ISSN: 1598-1398 (Print) 2586-7474 (Online)
Print publication date 31 Jan 2024
Received 06 Feb 2024 Revised 21 Feb 2024 Accepted 22 Feb 2024

A Pragmatic Approach to Negated Predicate-Modifying How-Questions
Hae-Kyung Wee
Professor, Dept. of British and American Humanities, Dankook University 152 Jukjeon-ro, Suji-gu, Yongin-si, Gyeonggi-do, Korea, Tel: 031) 8005-3073 (

© 2024 KASELL All rights reserved
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License, which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study primarily aims to provide the felicity condition for predicate-modifying interpretation of negative how-questions by uncovering the reasons behind the distinction between negative how-questions that allow the interpretation of Predicate-Modifying How (PMH) and those that do not. The conditions enabling a PMH interpretation for negative how-questions are specified with two crucial elements: (i) the predicate to be eventive rather than stative and (ii) the negation of the predicate to convey the meaning of the predicate achieving a contextually desirable outcome, what can be called ‘desirability condition’. A secondary goal is to suggest syntactic structures for negated how-questions with PMH interpretations, where not is analyzed as the ‘low negation’ proposed by Holmberg (2012). This structure can represent the PMH questions while ensuring compliance with the ‘desirability condition’. The proposed structure, devoid of a negative island, facilitates movement of the vP-adjunct how to CP without encountering obstacles. Additionally, it is explored why negative how-questions with contracted negation n’t are deemed unacceptable for both PMH and mirative interpretations by most speakers.

Keywords: predicate-modifying how, negative-island, scope of how, event predicate, stative predicate, low negation, high negation


I am grateful to two anonymous reviewers for giving valuable comments and helpful suggestions. The remaining errors and inaccuracies are my own.

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