Negative inversion, negative concord and sentential negation in the history of English

Wallage, Phillip (2012) Negative inversion, negative concord and sentential negation in the history of English. English Language and Linguistics, 16 (1). pp. 3-33. ISSN 1360-6743

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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).

Item Type: Article
Subjects: Q300 English studies
Depositing User: Ellen Cole
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2012 15:07
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2023 13:47

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