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5.1.5. The negative article geen'no'
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This section discusses the negative element geen'no'. Although this element is part of a noun phrase, it normally takes clausal scope in the sense that it expresses sentential negation and can therefore often be seen as a stand-in for the combination of the negative adverb niet and the indefinite article een. A pair of examples illustrating the alternation between niet een and geen is given in (203).

Example 203
a. Ik koop natuurlijk geen auto met het stuur aan de rechterkant.
  buy  of course  no car  with the steering wheel on the right.side
  'Of course I donʼt buy a car that has the steering wheel on the right-hand side.'
b. Ik koop natuurlijk niet een auto met het stuur aan de rechterkant.
  buy  of course  not a car  with the steering wheel on the right.side
  'Of course I donʼt buy a car that has the steering wheel on the right-hand side.'

The alternation in (203) has given rise to the idea that geen is the result of a fusion of the negative adverb and the indefinite article; cf. Haeseryn et al. (1997: §29.4). However, such alternations are possible only in a very small subset of the contexts in which geen and niet een are usable. Not all occurrences of geen can be replaced by niet een; Table 1 in the introduction to this section on articles has shown that geen can occur with a larger variety of noun phrases than the indefinite article een, such as plural and non-count nouns; cf. also Section 5.1.5.2, sub I. Furthermore, we will see there are also several syntactic constructions in which replacing the combination of niet een with geen fails. It seems therefore difficult to maintain that geen is the result of fusion of the negative adverb niet and the indefinite article een.
      Actually, it is by no means clear that geen is a determiner: we have suggested in several places that een should perhaps be analyzed as a numeral, and for geen there is even more evidence to support such an assumption. For example, geen can be used in constructions such as (204a) with quantitative er, in which respect it differs from all determiners but resembles the numerals and the weak quantifiers. The same thing holds for the partitive construction in (204b): in this construction geen can be replaced by a numeral and certain quantifiers but not by a determiner. Finally, the (c)-examples show that geen can be modified by adverbial phrases like vrijwel/bijna, an option it shares with some numerals and quantifiers, but which is never available for determiners. Given these data, it might be fully justified to consider geen not an article but a numeral or a quantifier. Despite this, we will discuss geen here and not in Chapter 6, using the term negative article instead of quantifier.

Example 204
a. Ik heb er [geen/drie [e]] gezien.
  have  er  no/three  seen
b. Ik heb geen/drie van die boeken gekocht.
  have  no/three  of those books  bought
c. Ik heb bijna geen/honderd/alle boeken gelezen.
  have  nearly  no/hundred/all books  read
c'. Ik heb vrijwel geen/alle boeken gelezen.
  have  virtually no/all books  read

Section 5.1.5.1 starts with a concise discussion of the semantic contribution of geen. This is followed in Section 5.1.5.2 by a discussion of the distribution of geen inside the noun phrase. Section 5.1.5.3 concludes with a discussion of the distribution of noun phrases containing geen and gives some remarks on the use of geen as an independent constituent.

References:
  • Haeseryn, Walter, Romijn, Kirsten, Geerts, Guido, Rooij, Jaap de & Toorn, Maarten C. van den1997Algemene Nederlandse spraakkunstGroningenNijhoff
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