Old French negation, the Tobler/Mussafia law, and V2

Ingham, R. (2014) Old French negation, the Tobler/Mussafia law, and V2. Lingua, 147. pp. 25-39. ISSN 00243841 (ISSN)

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Abstract

Old French finite clauses were normally negated by preverbal ne, whose structural status is shown here to be problematic. Ne displayed contradictory syntactic properties. On the one hand it allowed null subjects, thus seeming to 'count' for Verb Second. It also respected the Tobler/Mussafia law by allowing a pronominal clitic to stand in preverbal position. In these respects it behaved as an ordinary clause-initial constituent. However, ne could not induce VSpro order, as an initial clause constituent normally did, and indeed allowed a constituent preceding it to do so. Ne exhibited similarly contradictory properties in behaving as a clitic itself, yet acting as a host for pronominal clitics in the forms nel and nes. These paradoxes are addressed here by postulating that ne was undergoing a change in categorial status, involving grammar competition between two structural alternatives (Kroch, 2001): ne as a free negative clause constituent co-existed in earlier Old French with a special clitic negator ne; the Jespersen cycle of negation is seen as producing synchronic states where more than one stage of the cycle is attested. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Clitic, Grammar competition, Jespersen's cycle, Negation, Old french, Verb second
Subjects: R900 Others in European Languages, Literature and related subjects
Divisions: UoA Collections > UoA29: English Language and Literature
Depositing User: Yasser Nawaz
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2017 14:52
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2017 14:52
URI: http://www.open-access.bcu.ac.uk/id/eprint/1911

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