Pragmatic differentiation of negative markers in the early stages of Jespersen’s cycle in North Germanic
John Benjamins Publishing Company
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Blaxter, T., & Willis, D. (2018). Pragmatic differentiation of negative markers in the early stages of Jespersen’s cycle in North Germanic. Diachronica, 35 (4), 451-486. https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.16040.bla
This article investigates the pragmatic function of new negative markers during incipient renewal of negation (Jespersen’s cycle). It outlines a typology of such markers, suggesting a pathway by which they begin as specialized for use with discourse-old propositions and later expand to inferred propositions before finally becoming possible with discourse-new propositions. This framework is applied to an overlooked case of Jespersen’s cycle in North Germanic: replacement of early Norwegian ei(gi) ‘not’ by ekki (originally “nothing”) from 1250 to 1550. We document a sharp rise in frequency of ekki around 1425, suggesting that, until then, ekki had been restricted to negating discourse-old propositions. Once this constraint was lifted, ei(gi) and ekki competed directly, resulting in rapid replacement of ei(gi) by ekki. This typologically unusual direct replacement of a negator with no intervening doubling stage can be attributed to the new negator’s origin as a negative indefinite and the lack of negative concord in early Norwegian.
negation, cyclic change, Jespersen's cycle, information structure, emphasis, Old Norwegian, Middle Norwegian
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/dia.16040.bla
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/275183