Journal of Natural Language Engineering
Special Issue on Processing Negation

Call for Papers

Negation is a complex phenomenon that "relates an expression e to another expression with a meaning that is in some way opposed to the meaning of e" (Horn and Wansing, 2017). Cognitively, negation "involves some comparison between a real situation lacking some particular element and an imaginal situation that does not lack it" (Lawler 2010). In natural language, negation functions as an operator, similar to quantifiers and modals. As an operator, one of the main characteristics of negation is that it has scope, thus it affects surrounding elements. These elements may be implicitly or explicitly stated, and they may belong to a different clause than the negation.

Theoretical works tell us that negation is present in all human languages, and that it allows for the uniquely human capacities of denial, contradiction, misrepresentation, lying, and irony (Horn and Wansing, 2017). Grammars detail the valid ways of creating negated statements and study negation in terms of its scope and focus (Huddleston and Pullum, 2002). Previous work reveals that negation is ubiquitous: Tottie (1991) reports that negation is twice as frequent in spoken than written language (27.6 and 12.8 per 1,000 words respectively), over 12% of concepts in health records are identified as negated (Elkin et al., 2005), and 19% of sentences in product reviews contain negation (Councill et al., 2010).

Within natural language processing, approaches to process negation target primarily scope and focus detection (Morante and Blanco, 2012). There have also been shallow heuristic-based approaches (Hu and Liu, 2004), and work tuned to the biological and medical domain (Miller et al., 2017). This special issue is devoted to advances in processing negation from a computational perspective.


We invite submissions describing novel work on any aspect related to processing negation from a computational perspective. We welcome articles describing, among others, theoretical insights, annotation schemes and corpora, empirical studies on processing and representing the meaning of negation, and applications that benefit from processing negation. The special issue is not limited to any particular human language. Submissions exploring the challenges posed by negation and proposing solutions for an application (for example, machine translation, sentiment analysis, natural language inference) are encouraged.

The topics of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

Important Dates

Call for Papers December 1, 2018
Letter of intent (not required) March 1, 2019
Submission deadline May 15, 2019
First notification July 15, 2019
Submission of revised versions September 15, 2019
Final notification November 20, 2019
Camera-ready submission January 15, 2020

Submission Instructions

Letter of Intent

We request you send a letter of intent (1 page maximum) explaining the contents of your intended submission by March 1, 2019. The letter of intent is not required: authors may submit an article without submitting a letter of intent, and the contents of the submission do not need to match the explanation in the letter of intent. Letters of intent will not be reviewed and will be used only for planning purposes.

Please email your letter of intent to the guest editors. You will receive an email confirmation within a week. If you would like informal feedback about the suitability of your planned submission to the special issue, please indicate so in your email.


Articles submitted to the Special issue on Negation must adhere to the Journal of Natural Language Engineering Instructions for Contributors. Articles will be processed via the Journal of Natural Language Engineering submission system. Please register as an author and select the article type "Special Issue: Processing Negation".

As a general rule, articles are expected to be between 20 and 35 pages long, and at least 15 pages long. These page lengths are only suggestions, not requirements.

We expect to open the submission website in March 2019. Additional details will be announced closer to the deadline.

Guest Editors

Guest Editorial Board (still growing)


Questions? Contact the guest editors with any questions regarding the special issue.