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Development of sentential negation in the history of German

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Abstract

This paper proposes an analysis of the diachrony of negation in German. We suggest that despite the changes in the negation particle and the availability of negative concord (NC), there is a large amount of diachronic continuity both with respect to the syntax of negation in terms of NegP as well as to the semantic status and licensing requirements of the neg-markers. Notably, negative indefinites are licensed throughout the history of German by a covert negation operator in a one-to-one relation. The apparent diachronic continuity in the availability of NC in certain German dialects by contrast is argued to be only of a superficial nature: It is in fact due to diachronic change, as NC is not a homogeneous phenomenon.

References

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