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LINGUIST List 16.3339

Sun Nov 20 2005

Diss: Historical Linguistics: Wallage: 'Negation in...'

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        1.    Phillip Wallage, Negation in Early English: Parametric variation and grammatical competition

Message 1: Negation in Early English: Parametric variation and grammatical competition
Date: 17-Nov-2005
From: Phillip Wallage <Phillip.Wallagemanchester.ac.uk>
Subject: Negation in Early English: Parametric variation and grammatical competition

Institution: University of York
Program: Department of Language and Linguistic Science
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Phillip Wallage

Dissertation Title: Negation in Early English: Parametric variation and grammatical competition

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Eric Haeberli
Susan Pintzuk
Anthony Warner

Dissertation Abstract:

This large scale study of negation in English of the period 800-1500AD
synthesizes three areas of linguistics: Minimalist syntactic theory,
quantitative methodology, and textual study of data from two new large
syntactically parsed corpora of Old English (Taylor 2002) and Middle
English (Kroch & Taylor 2000). I integrate recent formal models of
Minimalist syntactic representation (Chomsky 1995, 2000) with recent
quantitative methods and models of change (Kroch 1989) to provide an
economical and empirically defensible Minimalist analysis of changes in
early English negation observed in progress across a large early English
corpus. Quantitative data from morphosyntactic change in progress crucially
establish the most appropriate syntactic analysis of early English negation
and underpin a new model of grammaticalisation.

I present empirical evidence to distinguish three patterns of early English
negation which are ordered in time to constitute Jespersen's Cycle
(Jespersen 1917). These three stages are distinguished within a Minimalist
syntactic framework (Chomsky 1995; 2000) using different morphosyntactic
features. This approach accommodates the observed distribution of
sentential negators in all early English clause types, unlike the accounts
proposed by Frisch (1997) or van Kemenade (2000). I claim that
grammaticalisation involves change in formal morphosyntactic features. My
proposals distinguish two types of polarity head. One has LF interpretable
NEG-features. The other does not have any LF interpretation. The
Neg-criterion (Haegeman 1995) is reduced to a morphosyntactic feature
checking dependency only applicable when the negative head does not bear LF
interpretable NEG-features.

Quantitative evidence establishes the relationships between change in the
position of negation in clause structure, change to the form of sentential
negation, and change to the availability of multiple negation. A Minimalist
approach to parametric variation provides a new perspective on the
relationships between these early English changes, challenging previous
accounts which link changes in the position of negation to Jespersen's
Cycle (van Kemenade 2000) and which link changes in the availability of
multiple negation to Jespersen's Cycle (Rowlett 1998).

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