Article published in:Continuity and Change in Grammar
Edited by Anne Breitbarth, Christopher Lucas, Sheila Watts and David Willis
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 159] 2010
► pp. 181–200
Negative co-ordination in the history of English
This chapter examines the syntax of negative coordination in the history of English. Two major developments can be observed: (a) in Late Middle English it becomes impossible for a negative conjunct clause introduced by the negative conjunction ne to follow an initial affirmative conjunct clause – since the fourteenth century the initial conjunct must also be negative; (b) nor replaces ne in the second conjunct, which is interpreted as negative but contains no other negative element. These developments follow from two proposed changes in the structure of English clausal negation. First, not replaces a null negative operator in SpecNegP. This operator had checked the uninterpretable feature of ne/nor. Its loss thus requires a c-commanding negative clause to check this feature. Second, nor itself gains an interpretable negative feature, making the following clause negative in interpretation without any further negative element.
Published online: 29 July 2010