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date: 24 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews the diachronic processes affecting indefinites in the scope of negation and other nominal elements that enter the negation system as strengtheners of the sentential negative marker. Changes involving indefinites interweave with Jespersen’s Cycle because changes in the syntactic nature of the negative marker may lead to the creation of syntactic dependencies between negative items in the clause. In turn, indefinites themselves are subject to diachronic clines and cyclical processes of change modifying their pragmatic and semantic properties and renewing their form and their featural content. A particularly intriguing systematic phenomenon leads originally positive elements to become more ‘negative’, in ways that will be explored in this chapter by means of examples from the diachrony of various languages.

Keywords: indefinites, Negative Concord, Negative Concord items, Negative Polarity items, emphatic negation, cyclical development, diachronic clines

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