Double Negation in English and Ukrainian: a View from Cognitive Linguistics and a SLA Context

Yakiv Bystrov, Oksana Petryna, Maiia Matton


Irrespective of the fact that two negations in the same clause usually cancel each other out and result in an affirmative sentence, the phenomenon of double negation in English is still a disputable problem. These aspects all lead to linguistic complexity of double negation in SLA followed by a description of its relevant characteristics and contradictory aspects in English and Ukrainian. This study aims to establish a cognitive model of double negation as understatement via a mitigation operation as regards its specific contextual effects and to explore the impact of the language of instruction on the linguistic complexity of double negation to the learner of English. Within the theory of negation this research applies the hypothesis to the assumption that English is the main language of instruction for a Ukrainian learner, and how L2 learners’ comprehension and production of double negation occur. The hypothesis is empirically tested against the English sentences with their Ukrainian equivalents and the tasks in the questionnaire written by learners of English. The results of my research suggest that when learners interpret L2 sentences with more than one negative element we identify both similar and different double negatives in a students’ first and second language that influence enhanced awareness of double negation and which is important for successful L2 comprehension and use.



double negation, understatement, mitigation cognitive operation, contrastive analysis, English, Ukrainian

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Print ISSN: 1648-2824
Online ISSN: 2029-7203