Abstract and Keywords
Many recent quantitative studies examine the use of English negative-dependent expressions, focusing on variation between no-negation and not-negation. Tottie, Varela-Perez, Wallage, Childs, Burnett et al. identify several constraints on this variation–notably verb-type and discourse-function—which, in turn, inform the structural analysis of Present-day English negative words and negative clauses. Explaining its origins, Tottie hypothesizes that variation between no-negation and not-negation is a consequence of the ongoing lexical diffusion of not. However, statistical analyses of diachronic corpus data provide evidence against this hypothesis. They indicate that variation between no-negation and not-negation is stable and historically persistent from the sixteenth century to the Present-day, suggesting that it is established during Middle English (eleventh to fifteenth centuries) through the interaction of two independent changes to the syntax of negation—the Jespersen Cycle and the quantifier cycle.
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