Introduction in:Studies in Language: Online-First Articles
Typology, diachrony, areality
The paper sketches the state of affairs of our understanding of postverbal negation. It departs from the typological finding that there is a cross-linguistic preference for a negator to precede the verb. Nevertheless, a sizable proportion of the world’s languages adhere to a pattern with a negator following the verb, and such negators are typically morphologically bound. The existence of this pattern, unfavorable from a functional perspective, calls for a diachronic explanation. The paper takes stock of diachronic processes that can lead to postverbal negation, in general, and suffixal negation, in particular. Furthermore, a language may acquire a pattern with postverbal negation through language contact, and this is yet another perspective that the paper addresses. Finally, we introduce the contributions to this volume, highlighting the new insights.
Keywords: postverbal negation, typology, diachrony, language contact, standard negation, prohibitive negation, existential negation, Jespersen Cycle, Negative Existential Cycle, Givón Cycle, negative verb