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date: 02 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The long tradition of relating changes in the form and meaning of negation to pragmatics raises the questions of what precise pragmatic notions are involved, and under what conditions they relate to (stages of) evolution. Emerging clausal negators (and possibly Negative Concord Items, NCIs) introducing a new stage of the Jespersen Cycle (Dahl 1979) are categorically found in explicitly discourse-old value clauses, to lose that value at quantifiable rates of usage. Emphasis characterizes NCIs when they contain a scalar marker, compete with another synonymous NCI, or enter a clausal negative construction. The pragmatic value of declining negative markers is still unclear. Markers from other grammatical categories relating to veridicality, such as interrogations and Verum Focus markers, also associate to a categorical discourse-old value in their initial stages of evolution. By identifying known knowns but also known unknowns, the chapter encourages systematic research into the relation between pragmatics and grammatical change.

Keywords: change, pragmatics, emphasis, activation, discourse-old information, rates of usage

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