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The Negative Existential Cycle Revisited
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-6852-9021
2014 (English)In: Linguistics, ISSN 2072-8379, Vol. 52, no 6, 1327-1389 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Based on cross-linguistic data and the postulation of six language types, the Negative Existential Cycle was proposed by Croft (1991) as a way of modeling the evolution of standard negation markers from existential negators. The current investigation tests this model by applying it to two language families, Slavonic and Polynesian, checking which cycle types are instantiated in these families and outlining pathways of transition between different types. In Slavonic, we observe one type without variation and two types with internal variation. All cycle types are instantiated in Polynesian, which is correlated with characteristics specific to this family. Three pathways are outlined for the partial or complete transfer of negative existentials into the verbal domain. The first is contingent on negative existentials being used in specific constructions and the direct inheritance or expansion of use of these constructions; the second involves negative existentials being used as emphatic negators external to the proposition and their subsequent reanalysis as clause internal negators without any additional pragmatic content. The third pathway, observed in Polynesian only, is through subordination processes leading to the re-interpretation of negative existentials as general markers of negation. Additionally, a time dimension needs to be added when modeling this cycle, as its completion, i.e. the negative existential turning into a full-fledged marker of standard negation, appears to take longer than 2,000 years.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 52, no 6, 1327-1389 p.
Keyword [en]
evolution of negation, cyclical processes in language change, negative existential cycle, Slavonic, Polynesian
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-98384ISI: 000343909700001OAI: diva2:683660
Lexicalization of negation and its role for the development of standard negation markers
Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, P10-0348:1
Available from: 2014-01-06 Created: 2014-01-06 Last updated: 2014-12-02Bibliographically approved

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