Pragmatic differentiation of negative markers in the early stages of Jespersen's cycle in North Germanic

Tam Blaxter, David Willis, Apollo-University Of Cambridge Repository, Apollo-University Of Cambridge Repository
2018
This article investigates the pragmatic function of new negative markers during incipient renewal of negation (Jespersen's cycle). It outlines a typology of such markers, suggesting a pathway by which they begin as specialized for use with discourse-old propositions and later expand to inferred propositions before finally becoming possible with discourse-new propositions. This framework is applied to an overlooked case of Jespersen's cycle in North Germanic: replacement of early Norwegian
more » ... rly Norwegian ei(gi) 'not' by ekki (originally "nothing") from 1250 to 1550. We document a sharp rise in frequency of ekki around 1425, suggesting that, until then, ekki had been restricted to negating discourse-old propositions. Once this constraint was lifted, ei(gi) and ekki competed directly, resulting in rapid replacement of ei(gi) by ekki. This typologically unusual direct replacement of a negator with no intervening doubling stage can be attributed to the new negator's origin as a negative indefinite and the lack of negative concord in early Norwegian.
doi:10.17863/cam.22365 fatcat:j5yvvssixnc3bpredj23zj66qu