In the SEP article on negation, they say:
Where we do not find negation is in the one place propositional logic would lead us to look, sentence- or clause-peripheral position, as an external one-place connective interpreted as “it is not the case that”. (Horn 1989 takes apparent instances of external negation in English and elsewhere to represent the metalinguistic use of negation, discussed in §1.10 below, while Bar-Asher Siegal 2015 presents evidence for the existence of a semantic external negation operator in Jewish Babylonian Aramaic.)
I checked the indicated section, which didn't seem to cover the use of the word "no." But so take some declarative question:
- Do you want to go to Xanadu?
- No, I don't want to go to Xanadu (maybe I don't want to go anywhere!).
- No, I want to go to not-Xanadu (I want to go somewhere besides Xanadu/I want to go to Shangri-La).
Oddly or not, "no" as used requires inserting a "not" into the negated proposition, and the double negation on the phrasing level is a single negation on the interpretation level. So one might just as well not use "no"? I also considered "no" for imperatives:
- Go to the store?
- No, go to the library.
I would tend to read a speaker A of (4) as holding, "Go to the store," to be directed by the B-speaker of (5) at A. Maybe A is hard of hearing and is asking B to clarify some instruction. When B denies (4), they are not issuing a command to themselves; they are not disagreeing with/rejecting directions for themselves but for A. But we can also ask such questions of ourselves: "Spend my afternoon reading?" "No, spend my afternoon exercising..."
Is, "No," an example of the kind of natural-language negation that the SEP article says is not to be found? Or is this issue addressed in the cited [Horn1989]?
EDIT: I don't know if I'm reading the article correctly. I take, "English doesn't have a sentence-level negation," to mean that, for some sentence A, ~A as "Not A," isn't the kind of thing English-speakers would almost ever say, and/or isn't a faithful use of the word "Not" in English as such. Which is why "No" seems like a counterexample to that claim, albeit one that implicitly transfers "not" across the sentence/predicate threshold.