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The History of Negation in the Languages of Europe and the MediterraneanVolume I Case Studies$
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David Willis, Christopher Lucas, and Anne Breitbarth

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602537

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199602537.001.0001

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Negation in the history of Greek

Negation in the history of Greek

(p.299) 8 Negation in the history of Greek
The History of Negation in the Languages of Europe and the Mediterranean

Jo Willmott

Oxford University Press

This chapter traces the historical complexities of the Greek negative system from Ancient Greek to Standard Modern Greek. Throughout its history Greek has two sentential negators. This chapter discusses the best way to characterise the difference between them, arguing that it is more complex than simply a distinction between a standard indicative negator (Ancient Greek ou, Modern Greek dhen) and a subjunctive negator (Ancient Greek , Modern Greek min). The shift from ou to dhen (via ouden) as the main negator is traced as a development akin to but distinct from Jespersen’s cycle. Finally, the chapter traces the development of negative concord and negative imperatives in the history of the language.

Keywords:   Ancient Greek, Koine Greek, Standard Modern Greek, sentential negation, Jespersen’s cycle, negative concord, negative imperatives

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