Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Voice Quality

By John H. Esling, Scott R. Moisik, Allison Benner, Lise Crevier-Buchman

Voice Quality "The first description of voice quality production in forty years, this book provides a new framework for its study: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. Informed by instrumental examinations of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism, it revises our understanding of articulatory postures to explain the actions, vibrations and resonances generated in the epilarynx and pharynx."

New from Oxford University Press!


Let's Talk

By David Crystal

Let's Talk "Explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation."

E-mail this page 1

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Dissertation Information

Title: The Development of Negation in Arabic and Afro-Asiatic Add Dissertation
Author: Christopher Lucas Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Cambridge, PhD in Linguistics
Completed in: 2009
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics;
Language Family(ies): Afroasiatic
Director(s): David Willis

Abstract: This thesis discusses diachronic developments in the expression of
negation in Arabic and other Afro-Asiatic languages, focussing in
particular on the set of changes known as 'Jespersen's Cycle' –
prototypically the progression from preverbal to bipartite to postverbal
negation – as well as the development of indefinites in the scope of
negation. Drawing together data on negation from a number of
neighbouring varieties of Arabic and Berber, as well as from Coptic and
Modern South Arabian, this thesis defends from a linguistic and
historical point of view the claim that bipartite negation in Arabic was
triggered by contact with Coptic in Egypt, and separately with Modern
South Arabian in Yemen and Oman, and that the same construction in
Berber was in turn triggered by contact with Maghrebi Arabic. In light of
the lack of an existing model of the psychological mechanisms which
enable contact-induced grammatical change, as opposed to the
sociolinguistic factors which constrain it, an account of these
mechanisms is developed, integrating Van Coetsem's (1988, 2000)
work on this topic with research on second language acquisition and
first language attrition, as well as with acquisitionist approaches to
(internal) change in general. This then enables an explicit account of
the spread of bipartite negation in the languages under study. This
account sees the bipartite construction in Arabic as the product of
imposition (source-language agentivity) by native speakers of Coptic
and Modern South Arabian, and its counterpart in Berber as the result
of borrowing (recipient-language agentivity) by native Berber speakers
from their second-language Arabic. The partial and complex
progression from a bipartite to a postverbal negative construction in
Palestinian Arabic is then examined in detail on the basis of original
field data, in a case study of phonological input to syntactic change.
Finally, the scope is widened to investigate a number of Jespersen-
type developments in the Semitic and Cushitic languages of Ethiopia,
as well as the development of n-words and negative indefinites in
Palestinian and Moroccan Arabic, Maltese and Hebrew, where it is
argued that, contrary to initial impressions, only the latter two have
developed into bona fide negative concord languages.