Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

Contact as catalyst: The case for Coptic influence in the development of Arabic negation1

  • CHRISTOPHER LUCAS (a1) and ELLIOTT LASH (a1)
  • DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0022226709990235
  • Published online: 17 November 2009
Abstract

This article discusses similar developments in the expression of negation in the histories of Egyptian-Coptic and Arabic and explores the evidence for these respective developments being related by language contact. Both Coptic and Arabic have undergone a development known as Jespersen's Cycle (JC), whereby an original negative marker is joined by some new element to form a bipartite negative construction. The original marker then becomes optional while the new element becomes the primary negator. We present the results of a corpus study of negation in late Coptic, showing that, at the time when Arabic speakers began to settle in Egypt, the bipartite negative construction still predominated. This being the case, we argue that native speakers of Coptic learning Arabic as a second language played a key role in the genesis of the Arabic bipartite negative construction. More generally, we give reasons to doubt the a priori preference for internal explanations of syntactic change over those involving contact, as well as the assumption that the two are mutually exclusive. Rather, we suggest that not only purely internal but also (partially) contact-induced change can profitably be accounted for in terms of child language acquisition leading to a change in the grammars of individual speakers.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Authors' address: Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, UKcbl23@cam.ac.uk
Department of Linguistics, Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, University of Cambridge, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge CB3 9DA, UKejfl2@cam.ac.uk
Footnotes
Hide All

Parts of this paper were presented in Nijmegen, Milan and Leipzig in 2008. We would like to thank the two anonymous JL referees, as well as David Willis and Johan van der Auwera, for their detailed and insightful comments on earlier, inferior, drafts. We would also like to thank Ariel Shisha-Halevy for the initial suggestion that the issue investigated here was worth investigating. This work was funded by a Ph.D. studentship from the Arts and Humanties Research Council and an Overseas Research Studentship award from the University of Cambridge.

Lists of abbreviations used in example glosses and example source annotations can be found in the appendix.

Footnotes
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Robert D. Borsley , Maggie Tallerman & David Willis . 2007. The syntax of Welsh. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kate Burridge . 1993. Syntactic change in Germanic: Aspects of language change in Germanic, with particular reference to Middle Dutch. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Östen Dahl . 1979. Typology of sentence negation. Linguistics 17, 79106.

Susanne Döpke . 1998. Competing language structures: The acquisition of verb placement by bilingual German–English children. Journal of Child Language 25, 558584.

Agnes Jäger . 2008. History of German negation (Linguistics Today 188). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Roger Lass . 1997. Historical linguistics and language change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Claire Lefebvre . 2001. Relexification in creole genesis and its effects on the development of the creole. In Norval Smith & Tonjes Venestra (eds.), Creolization and contact, 942. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Robert Mailhammer . 2007. The Germanic strong verbs: Foundations and development of a new system. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Jürgen M. Meisel 2001. The simultaneous acquisition of two first languages: Early differentiation and subsequent development of grammars. In Jasone Cenoz & Fred Genesee (eds.), Trends in bilingual acquisition, 1141. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Jonathan Owens . 1988. The foundations of grammar: An introduction to medieval Arabic grammatical theory. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Jonathan Owens . 2003. Arabic dialect history and historical linguistic mythology. Journal of the American Oriental Society 123, 715740.

Jonathan Owens . 2006. A linguistic history of Arabic. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0022-2267
  • EISSN: 1469-7742
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-linguistics
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×