Volume 14, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-2116
  • E-ISSN: 2210-2124
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While previous studies have analyzed the changing nature of polarity items (PIs) in Latin (see Gianollo 2018, 2020) and the licensing conditions of PIs in modern languages (see Homer 2021), less research has analyzed the diachronic behavior of PIs in the development of the Spanish language. The present study takes a quantitative approach to historical corpus data in showing that in older varieties of Spanish, there was an increased degree of competition between items of the alg- series (i.e., alguno ‘some’) and items of the n- series (i.e., ninguno ‘none’) in negated clauses which later decreased as the language entered its modern age. We find that the competition between these items in negated clauses is influenced by factors such as register, the syntactic role of the PI, and activation status (following Larrivée 2012, 2017). These data provide quantitative support for Martins (2000), who suggested that earlier forms of Spanish exhibited more versatile licensing conditions of PIs, and that this variation gradually decreased over time due to a greater salience of the n- series in negated clauses. In total, the present work aims to use corpus data to connect historical linguistic research to theoretical approaches regarding the contemporary usage of PIs.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): historical corpus analysis; indefinites; negation; polarity items; Spanish
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