Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2589-1588
  • E-ISSN: 2589-1596
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Language change can be conceptualized as a cyclical process of continuous renewal of the involved elements which somehow change their nature, with respect to phonological or lexico-grammatical features. A crucial aspect of such diachronic evolution is that cyclical change takes place systematically and follows regular and unidirectional patterns of development. Once the change is complete, the same developmental path will be undertaken by new linguistic items in the same cyclical fashion. In this paper, we illustrate the concept of cyclical change by discussing two examples of linguistic cycles. A first instance of cyclical development is displayed at the phonological level by the diachronic changes in the obstruent consonant system taking place from Indo-European to German through the First and the Second Sound Shift: the cycle is completed in the Cimbrian dialects. A second instance is provided by the diachronic process known as Jespersen’s cycle ([1917] 1966): sentential negation, initially expressed through a single negative marker, is later reinforced by an additional one; eventually, this second element becomes the only negative marker available in the sentence while the original marker is deleted. The discussion of the negative cycle takes also into consideration the results of an empirical research conducted on two varieties of an Italo-Romance dialect spoken in northern Italy.


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