The diachronic syntax of negated adjuncts in English

Richard Ingham, Susagna Tubau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we investigate the diachronic changes in negation and Emphatic Focus that are responsible for the distribution of negated adjuncts in Present Day English. These can occur clause-medially and clause-initially, but generally not clause-finally. While clause-initial negated adjuncts move to the left-periphery triggering Negative Inversion for emphasis, clause-medial negated adjuncts are argued to occur in their first-merged position as vP-adjuncts. We relate the inability of clause-final negated adjuncts to express sentential negation to the loss of Prosodic-movement and Negative Concord in the transition from Late Middle English to Early Modern English. The eventual loss of Negative Concord is related to the reanalysis of negative words from non-negative (i.e. [uNeg]) to negative (i.e. [iNeg]). Upon loss of Prosodic-movement, reanalysis of negative words as [iNeg] results in the rise of Negative Inversion to express Focus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)477-497
Number of pages21
JournalNatural Language and Linguistic Theory
Issue number2
Early online date16 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020


  • Focus
  • Late Middle English
  • Negated adjuncts
  • Negative concord
  • Negative inversion
  • Prosodic-movement


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