LINGUIST List 27.2277

Thu May 19 2016

Calls: Historical Linguistics, Typology/Sweden

Editor for this issue: Anna White <>

Date: 19-May-2016
From: Ljuba Veselinova <>
Subject: The Negative Existential Cycle from a Historical-Comparative Perspective
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Full Title: The Negative Existential Cycle from a Historical-Comparative Perspective

Date: 08-Dec-2016 - 09-Dec-2016
Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Contact Person: Ljuba Veselinova
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Typology

Call Deadline: 15-Aug-2016

Meeting Description:

The evolution of negation is often discussed in terms of a grammaticalization process dubbed Jespersen Cycle by Dahl (1979). Within this process, negation markers are seen to originate from emphatic elements in the negative phrase which gradually lose their sense of emphasis and are eventually interpreted as general verbal negators. Croft (1991) has suggested negative existentials as another source for negation markers. This author presented his hypothesis under the name Negative Existential Cycle (NEC). Despite renewed interest in cyclical processes in language change cf. (van Gelderen 2009, Willis, Lucas & Breitbath 2013), the NEC has received little attention. In order to examine its realizations from a cross-linguistic perspective we, Ljuba Veselinova (U of Stockholm) and Arja Hamari (U of Helsinki), have started a collaborative effort; we are hereby inviting other scholars to join in.

Veselinova has devoted several articles to a critical examination of the NEC cf. (Veselinova 2014, 2015, 2016). In these works she tests the NEC by applying it to comparative data from six families: Slavic, Uralic, Turkic, Dravidian, Berber and Polynesian. These tests show, among other things, that the cycle tends to go full circle under very specific conditions and that it is rarely fulfilled within the time span for reasonable reconstruction, cf. for a more detailed overview.

Lexington Books, are interested in publishing a book on this topic. We are planning an edited volume where the NEC is tested on a family based sample with a world-wide coverage.

The goal of this conference is to establish collaboration between scholars who are interested in the evolution of negation and in the interaction between special and standard negators.

Confirmed Participants:

Prof. Elly van Gelderen, U of Arizona
Prof. Johan van der Auwera, U of Antwerpen


For reasons of space the references mentioned above are listed here

Call for Papers:

To this end we are now seeking collaboration with other scholars who have expertise on specific language families and are interested in issues similar to those outlined below:

- Negative existentials and their interaction with standard negation
- Processes whereby negative existentials or other lexicalizations of negation break into the domain of standard negation
- The time duration of the stages in a negative existential cycle
- Are there any language specific characteristics which trigger or halt the cycle
- The constant renewal of negative existentials
The compilation of the planned volume will be preceded by a 2 day workshop in Stockholm in December 2016.

If you are interested in participating, please send one page abstract (500-700 words) to

Important Dates:

Deadline for abstract submission: August 15, 2016
Notification of acceptance: September 1, 2016
Workshop: December 8-9, 2016, Dept of Linguistics, U of Stockholm

The timeline for the volume will be discussed at the workshop. Please note that your submission can be considered for the volume even if you do not participate in the workshop.

Page Updated: 19-May-2016