This study points out the principles behind the selection of negative words between m̄ and bô in Taiwanese. Firstly, it espouses the analysis in Li 1971, Lin 1974, and Cheng 1997, that volitional m̄ and non-volitional m̄ should be considered as two separate lexical items. Furthermore, as argued in this paper, apart from the primitive non-volitional negative prefix m̄, the volitional m̄ and bô have been lexicalized and are internally opaque. Due to the emergence of new negative words, consequent division of labor is revealed in different negation scopes, reflecting the syntactic distribution of verbal elements that employ a negative word accordingly. It is also shown that the so-called ‘exceptional verbs’ in the previous studies, which only use m̄ to negate, are those verbal elements which have been grammaticalized and are merged under projections higher than the perfective aspect projection. In addition to the analysis, this paper also provides pedagogical guidelines of this issue for Taiwanese language teachers.
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