A minimalist approach to Jespersen’s Cycle in Welsh
This chapter gives a minimalist analysis of the development of clausal negation in Welsh. It attests the familiar Jespersen's Cycle with negation: The Modern Welsh negative marker ddim descends from the Middle Welsh noun dim ‘thing’, which co-occurred as a minimizer with the original negative particle ny(t) before eventually replacing it. The chapter takes on the important question of the apparent gradualness of these developments, always a challenge to acquisition-based accounts of grammatical change. It argues that the ‘cycle’ in fact decomposes into a series of stages, with the crucial stages being those where some children reanalyze dim as an adverb, then as a polarity adverb, and finally as the bearer of the uninterpretable [Neg] feature in the clause. The switch in the locus of this feature brings a distinctively minimalist flavour to the analysis of an important diachronic pattern.
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