The negative existential cycle viewed through the lens of comparative data

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In this paper a family-based sample is used in order to test the model of evolution of standard negation markers from negative existentials suggested by Croft (1991) and known as the Negative Existential Cycle (NEC). The comparative data collected here were analyzed and classified following the definitions of type/stages suggested in the original model. The data collected here were also analyzed from a diachronic perspective and whenever possible also supplied with historical information. It is found that the stages with variation are dominant in the families under study. Consequently they are considered to be far more important for this cycle than the stages without variation. Furthermore, the stages with variation are not only synchronically frequent, they are also diachronically stable as they can be demonstrated to last for very long periods of time. The data collected here also suggest that the NEC is rarely completed within a time span for reasonable reconstruction. This is attributed to the importance of the distinction between negation of actions and negation of existence and its contant renewal in human languages.


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