The Negative Existential and Other Cycles: Jespersen, Givón, and the Copula Cycle
elly van gelderen
June 2018

Veselinova (2013) provides two sources for the negative existential constructions, (a) the univerbation of a negative and a part of the existential construction, which needs not be verbal, and (b) the reanalysis of a lexical item with an appropriate, negative sense. I argue that this definition is both too narrow and too broad when examining the Negative Existential Cycle (NEC). Regarding (a), copulas and auxiliaries provide input to the NEC in addition to existentials, in e.g. Croft (1991), and regarding (b), verbs with a negative meaning are better seen as a separate development, as in Givón (1978). I will contend that copulas, auxiliaries, and existential verbs can all fuse with the negative and then disappear into the negative whereas negative verbs, such as fail, trade their semantic negative features into grammatical ones without fusion or loss. This paper will address three specific questions relevant to the NEC. The first is what are the source verbs in this cycle. A second question is whether or not the NEC is essentially a verbal cycle, in contrast to nominal nature of the Jespersen Cycle (JC; Jespersen 1917). The third question involves the possible doubling of the negative, which is relevant to showing the NEC is different from the Jespersen Cycle. The role of verbal agreement and inflection sets apart the verbal cycles (NEC and Givón’s) from the nominal one (JC) and the two verbal cycles are different in their renewal. The differences will be shown in their reanalyses in the last section.
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Reference: lingbuzz/004051
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keywords: auxiliary, copula, doubling, existential, negative, syntax
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