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The History of Negation in the Languages of Europe and the MediterraneanVolume II: Patterns and Processes$
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Anne Breitbarth, Christopher Lucas, and David Willis

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780199602544

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199602544.001.0001

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External motivations for Jespersen’s cycle

External motivations for Jespersen’s cycle

(p.117) 4 External motivations for Jespersen’s cycle
The History of Negation in the Languages of Europe and the Mediterranean

Anne Breitbarth

Christopher Lucas

David Willis

Oxford University Press

This chapter turns to external motivations for Jespersen’s cycle. Given the apparent diffusion pattern of the development in northwestern Europe observed in chapter 2, the current chapter considers the question of whether Jespersen’s cycle was a single innovation that spread through language contact, or whether there were several separate instances of Jespersen’s cycle in the languages of Europe and the Mediterranean. The timing of the changes in the different languages are mapped to the socio-historical situations, leading to the conclusion that in northwestern Europe at least, the trigger of Jespersen’s cycle was much less frequently contact-induced than previously thought. An in-depth case study of three Afro-Asiatic languages in North Africa, however, shows that language contact can lead to the diffusion of Jespersen’s cycle across a wide area. Furthermore, the stability of the transitional stage II may be related to the type of contact situation.

Keywords:   Jespersen’s cycle, language contact, imposition, borrowing, stability

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