All you need is another ‘Need’

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In this chapter, I will examine the verbal NPI cycle in the history of German including three NPIs: <i>d&#252;rfen</i>, <i>bed&#252;rfen</i> and <i>brauchen</i>. In doing so, I will illustrate that <i>d&#252;rfen</i> used to function as an NPI in older stages and that it lost its NPI status due to a semantic change. The received wisdom has it that <i>d&#252;rfen</i> was then replaced by <i>brauchen</i> (cf. Bech 1951; Kolb 1964; Lenz 1996; Paul 1897). I will challenge this view and provide evidence illustrating that <i>d&#252;rfen</i> was first replaced by <i>bed&#252;rfen</i>, while <i>bed&#252;rfen</i> has being replaced by <i>brauchen</i> in the last three centuries. In my view, <i>bed&#252;rfen </i>builds a bridge between <i>d&#252;rfen </i>and <i>brauchen</i>.<i> </i>Remarkably, as there is no need to preserve both predicates in Modern German, <i>bed&#252;rfen</i> as NPI is about to disappear giving way to <i>brauchen</i>. In what follows, I argue that <i>d&#252;rfen</i>, <i>bed&#252;rfen</i> and <i>brauchen </i>constitute a linguistic cycle in the sense claimed by van Gelderen (2009, 2011, this volume) and illustrate, both synchronically and diachronically, that although these three predicates have a lot in common, they differ in several respects. Their differences, however, do not weaken the cycle analysis. Quite the opposite, they provide direct evidence for typical hallmarks of a linguistic cycle, whereby &#8220;toward the end of the cycle, similar events start again, but they are (slightly) different and happen at a difference pace&#8221; (van Gelderen 2011: 3). As it will turn out, these properties hold for the NPI cycle in German as well.


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