Negative concord and the loss of the negative particle ne in Late Middle English

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2006

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Adam Mickiewicz University

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The presence of Negative Concord (NC) and the sentential negative particle ne is investigated in northern, southern, and mixed later Middle English prose texts from around 1400. The typology of negation proposed in Rowlett (1998) is taken as the basis for an examination of whether the loss of an overt Nego head element is associated with the loss of NC. It is found that NC, though almost categorical in southern varieties, was showing signs of weakening in northern/northerninfluenced texts. In these texts, the decline of NC was usually associated with the absence of ne. However, the converse relationship was not supported. It appears that loss of ne did not exert a direct influence on the grammar of NC in English, but that NC co-existed with the absence of a Neg head for a substantial period of time. This finding of a temporal disjunction is discussed in relation to the notion of cluster effects in parametrised syntax.

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Studia Anglica Posnaniensia, vol. 42 (2006), pp. 77-97

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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego