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Open Access Ouk ´Ismen Oudén: Negative Concord and Negative Polarity in the History of Greek

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Ouk ´Ismen Oudén: Negative Concord and Negative Polarity in the History of Greek

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In Ancient Greek a single set of indefinite enclitic pronouns was used indifferently in both negative/affective environments (i.e. like negative polarity items (NPI)) and in positive ones (i.e. like positive polarity items (PPI)). At the same time the negative pronouns used as negative quantifiers (NQ) were also employed as emphatic NPIs, with negative concord. The two functions of each class (i.e. PPI-like vs NPI-like, NQ vs NPI) were determined by syntactic distribution. In the specific case of negative sentences, an indefinite before a sentential negative marker (NM) functioned like a PPI but after a NM like an NPI, while a negative pronoun before a NM was an NQ but after an NM an NPI. This pattern was at odds with the canonical VSO clause structure that evolved in later antiquity, in which focal constituents were contrastively stressed and fronted to the left periphery: neither indefinite nor negative pronouns could be focalised because of the prosodic and/or semantic restrictions on their distribution. This deficiency was eventually remedied by formal/prosodic recharacterisation, the loss of NQs and the generalisation of NPIs to all syntactic positions available to DPs, including the focus position, a process that triggered their reinterpretation as involving universal quantification over negation rather than, as before, existential quantification under negation. The Modern Greek PPI kápjos and NPI kanís are traced from their origins in Ancient Greek and their role in the evolution of the system is explored. The final outcome is typologically to be expected in so far as NQs are redundant in a system in which NPIs appear freely both before and after NMs.

Affiliations: 1: Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge gch1000@cam.ac.uk

10.1163/15699846-01401003
/content/journals/10.1163/15699846-01401003
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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In Ancient Greek a single set of indefinite enclitic pronouns was used indifferently in both negative/affective environments (i.e. like negative polarity items (NPI)) and in positive ones (i.e. like positive polarity items (PPI)). At the same time the negative pronouns used as negative quantifiers (NQ) were also employed as emphatic NPIs, with negative concord. The two functions of each class (i.e. PPI-like vs NPI-like, NQ vs NPI) were determined by syntactic distribution. In the specific case of negative sentences, an indefinite before a sentential negative marker (NM) functioned like a PPI but after a NM like an NPI, while a negative pronoun before a NM was an NQ but after an NM an NPI. This pattern was at odds with the canonical VSO clause structure that evolved in later antiquity, in which focal constituents were contrastively stressed and fronted to the left periphery: neither indefinite nor negative pronouns could be focalised because of the prosodic and/or semantic restrictions on their distribution. This deficiency was eventually remedied by formal/prosodic recharacterisation, the loss of NQs and the generalisation of NPIs to all syntactic positions available to DPs, including the focus position, a process that triggered their reinterpretation as involving universal quantification over negation rather than, as before, existential quantification under negation. The Modern Greek PPI kápjos and NPI kanís are traced from their origins in Ancient Greek and their role in the evolution of the system is explored. The final outcome is typologically to be expected in so far as NQs are redundant in a system in which NPIs appear freely both before and after NMs.

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/content/journals/10.1163/15699846-01401003
2014-01-01
2016-12-06

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