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Academic Paper


Title: Negative inversion, Negative Concord and Sentential Negation in the History of English
Author: Phillip Wallage
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: Northumbria University
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics
Subject Language: English
English, Middle
Abstract: It is claimed in van Kemenade (2000: 62) that clauses with initial negative constituents are a context in which subject–verb inversion occurs throughout the history of English. However, different patterns of negative inversion are seen at different periods of English. I argue that changes in the availability of negative inversion reflect changes in the way sentential scope for negation is marked in negative concord constructions. Thus, negative concord involving Middle and Early Modern English not does not co-occur with negative inversion, but negative concord involving Middle English ne does. Changes to negative inversion can be seen to parallel changes in the way sentential scope negation is expressed at successive stages of the Middle English Jespersen Cycle. I propose that the changes to negative inversion and Jespersen's Cycle should both be analysed as changes in the ability of negative items to mark sentential scope for negation. This observation can be formalised within a Minimalist framework as variation in the LF-interpretability of negative features, following the account of Jespersen's Cycle proposed by Wallage (2008).

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This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 16, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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