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LINGUIST List 19.2764

Thu Sep 11 2008

Diss: Historical Ling/Ling Theories/Socioling/Syntax: Kallel: 'The ...'

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        1.    Amel Kallel, The Lexical Reanalysis of N-words and the Loss of Negative Concord in Standard English


Message 1: The Lexical Reanalysis of N-words and the Loss of Negative Concord in Standard English
Date: 10-Sep-2008
From: Amel Kallel <amelkallelhotmail.com>
Subject: The Lexical Reanalysis of N-words and the Loss of Negative Concord in Standard English
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Institution: Reading University
Program: Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2005

Author: Amel Kallel

Dissertation Title: The Lexical Reanalysis of N-words and the Loss of Negative Concord in Standard English

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
                            Linguistic Theories
                            Sociolinguistics
                            Syntax

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Prof. Anthony Warner
Prof. Susan Pintzuk
Prof. Anthony Kroch
Dr. Richard Ingham

Dissertation Abstract:

The Loss of Negative Concord (NC) has long been attributed to external
factors. This study re-addresses this issue and provides evidence for the
failure of certain external factors to account for the observed decline and
ultimate disappearance of NC in Standard English. A detailed study of
Negation in Late Middle and Early Modern English reveals that the process
of decline of NC was a case of a natural change, preceded by a period of
variation. Variation existed not only on the level of speech community as a
whole, but also within individual speakers (contra Lightfoot 1991). A close
study of n-indefinites in negative contexts and their ultimate replacement
with Negative Polarity Items (NPIs) in a number of grammatical environments
shows that the decline of NC follows the same pattern across contexts in a
form of parallel curvature, which indicates that the loss of NC is a
natural process. This study reveals that the decline takes place at the
same rate in all observed contexts. A context constancy effect is obtained
across all contexts indicating that the loss of NC is triggered by a change
in a single underlying parameter setting. Accordingly, a theory-internal
explanation is suggested. N-words underwent a lexical reanalysis whereby
they acquired a new grammatical feature [+Neg] and were thus reinterpreted
as negative quantifiers, rather than NPIs. This lexical reanalysis was
triggered by the ambiguous status of N-words between [+Neg] and [-Neg] and
thus between single and double negative meanings. This change is treated as
a case of parameter resetting as this lexical reanalysis affected a whole
set of lexical items and can thus economically account for the different
observed surface changes.



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