The negation in the matrix clause (ia) is interpreted in negating the complement clause, which makes (ia) equivalent to (ib):
(i) a I don't think he'll come b I think he won't come
The phenomenon owes its name to the early transformational analysis as an instance of movement (Lakoff 1970): the negation is raised out of its embedded clause to a position in the matrix clause. It is also called neg-raising. Examples of predicates that allow negative raising are believe, want, seem, suppose, likely, ought to, but not know, for instance. Negative raising has later received a pragmatic explanation. The â€˜displacedâ€™ interpretation of the negation results from a strengthening of the unlikely wide interpretation of (ia) to the more likely narrow interpretation that corresponds to (ib). See Horn (1989) for an extensive overview.
- Horn, Laurence R. 1989. A Natural History of Negation, University of Chicago Press, Chicago
- Lakoff, G. 1970. Pronominalization, negation and the analysis of adverbs, in: Jacobs, R. and P. Rosenbaum (eds.) Readings in English transformational grammar, 145-165, Ginn & Co, Waltham, MA