Nie sommer nie: Sociohistorical and formal comparative considerations in the rise and maintenance of the modern Afrikaans negation system
This article has three major objectives. Firstly, it aims to describe and account for the peculiarity of the modern Afrikaans negative concord marker nie2 in the familiar Western European context. I appeal to Roberge’s (2000) diachronic proposals as the initial starting point for this oddness, showing how nie2’s putative origins as a discourse-oriented particle are synchronically reflected in the modern language, producing, among other things, what appears to be inertness in the context of Jespersen’s Cycle. This inertness leads to the interface-driven hypothesis that systems in which a structurally very high element becomes grammaticalised as a sentential Negative Concord element will not progress to the next stage of Jespersen’s Cycle, i.e. a structurally very high Negative Concord element will never take over as the “real” negation element. The article’s second objective is to demonstrate, on the basis of data from Brazilian Portuguese, Santomé, and a subset of Bantu languages, that the predictions of this hypothesis appear to be correct. At the same time, I show how crucial it is to distinguish the cyclic negation-reinforcing developments associated with Jespersen’s Cycle from non-cyclic reinforcement developments; as they may draw on the same lexical resources, this can be a challenging task, particularly where less well-studied languages are the object of investigation. The final part of the article broadens the focus, considering Afrikaans’s overall negation profile in the context of negation typology and learnability. The conclusion drawn here is that this system, which owes some of its properties to prescriptive stipulations, is a highly unusual and possibly not even naturally acquirable one.
Keywords: Afrikaans, Jespersen’s Cycle, learnability, negation, Negative Concord, typology
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).