Volume 35, Issue 4
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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This article investigates the pragmatic function of new negative markers during incipient renewal of negation in ‘Jespersen’s cycle’. We outline a typology of these markers, suggesting a pathway by which they begin as specialized for use with discourse-old propositions and later expand to inferred propositions before finally becoming possible with discourse-new propositions. This framework is applied to an overlooked case of Jespersen’s cycle in North Germanic: replacement of early Norwegian () “not” by (originally “nothing”) from 1250 to 1550. We document a sharp rise in frequency of around 1425, suggesting that, until then, had been restricted to negating discourse-old propositions. Once this constraint was lifted, () and competed directly, resulting in rapid replacement of () by . This typologically unusual direct replacement of a negator with no intervening doubling stage can be attributed to the new negator’s origin as a negative indefinite and the lack of negative concord in early Norwegian.


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