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Continuity is change

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Abstract

All West Germanic languages have completed Jespersen&#8217;s Cycle, replacing a preverbal negation marker (stage I) with a post-verbal one (stage III) after a period of transition during which the two could co-occur (stage II). Only the Flemish dialects have maintained the old preverbal marker to some extent. The present chapter addresses this apparent historical continuity, establishing that Flemish en was in fact saved from the fate of its West Germanic cognates by a morphosyntactic change. Based on an analysis of the contexts in which preverbal <i>en</i> is found in present-day Flemish dialects, it is argued that <i>en</i> has evolved into a marker of emphasis of polarity, and that contrary to appearances, the Flemish dialects have in fact reached stage III.

References

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