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The History of Low German Negation$
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Anne Breitbarth

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199687282

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199687282.001.0001

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The expression of standard negation

The expression of standard negation

(p.16) 2 The expression of standard negation
The History of Low German Negation

Anne Breitbarth

Oxford University Press

This chapter investigates the development of the expression of standard negation in historical Low German. Standard negation is taken to mean (one of) the productive means to reverse the truth value of a proposition in a language. It is shown that Old Low German uses a preverbal particle ‘ni/ne’ to express standard negation, and that it does not yet have a conventionalized reinforcer of the expression of negation, though there are incipient adverbial uses of the (negative) indefinite ‘(n)iowiht’ ‘any-/nothing’. In Middle Low German, the standard negator is ‘nicht’, while the old preverbal particle ‘ne/en’ is no longer capable of expressing negation on its own and soon disappears from negative clauses in the corpus. The present chapter statistically analyses the language-internal and language-external factors influencing this loss.

Keywords:   standard negation, Jespersen’s cycle, Old Low German, Old Saxon, Middle Low German, scribal dialects, negation strengtheners, dialect contact, exceptive construction

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