On 20 November 2012 00:54, Leonardo Castro <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> I would never know that people could naturally speak such a thing as
> French "ne...pas" (kind of mandatory negation brackets) if I hadn't
> studied French.

Well, that's only true of Written French. In Spoken French "ne" is optional
at best (in fact, it's more or less dead).

> Well, "não...não" happens in Portuguese, but the
> second "não" is optional and apparently added a posteriori to
> emphasize the negation. OK, I know that's exactly how the "ne...pas"
> arose, but now they are just negation brackets
Somehow, double negations (what you call negation brackets) are not
uncommon in the world's languages. WALS (
lists 120 out of a sample of 1159 languages as using double negations.
That's more than 10%. And this number doesn't include languages that
optionally have double negations, like French. On the other hand, I'm not
sure they are perceived as "brackets" by speakers, since the scope of the
double negation is the entire clause, not just the words "bracketed" by the
negation words. In Written French, for instance, the "ne... pas" form
brackets the verb, but its scope is the entire clause, most of which is
*outside* the "negation bracket. "ne... pas"  in this case acts more like a
circumfix. When the negation is limited in scope to a single noun phrase,
it uses a single particle rather than a bracket of two: "pas de viande":
"no meat".

> So, maybe we could learn how to speak logical particles, such as
> delimiters, quite naturally if we got used to it.

Maybe. But you can't conclude that from double negations, since those are
not delimiters and don't behave that way.
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.