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date: 02 June 2020

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.

Keywords: quantifier cycle, Jespersen Cycle, morpho-syntactic variation, lexical diffusion, constant rate effect, Present-day English negation, Middle English negation

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