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The Spread of Change in French Negation


Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/9808

The Spread of Change in French Negation

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Title: The Spread of Change in French Negation
Author: Grieve-Smith, Angus
Advisor(s): Axelrod, Melissa
Committee Member(s): Croft, William
Travis, Catherine
Schwenter, Scott
Department: Linguistics
Subject(s): Linguistics
LC Subject(s): French language--Verb
French language--Grammar
Degree Level: Doctoral
Abstract: Many varieties of French have changed over the years from expressing predicate negation (Geurts 1998) with ne alone, to the embracing construction ne … pas, and then to postverbal pas alone (Jespersen 1917). When the increase in the frequency of ne … pas over time is plotted on a graph, it takes the S shape of the logistic function (Kroch 1989). Bybee and Thompson (1997) note that "the type frequency of a pattern determines its degree of productivity," but "high frequency forms with alternations resist analogical leveling.” These two observations provide an explanation for the logistic progression observed by Kroch (1989). Following Lotka (1925) and Volterra (1926), we can extend this model to take into account the competition between constructions to express the same function. To test these models, I have compiled a corpus of French theatrical texts from the twelfth to the twentieth century. The logistic function accurately models the use of ne … pas in these texts (R2 = 0.899), but the Lotka-Volterra model predicts the post-1600 changes in preverbal ne alone and embracing ne … pas and ne … point with even greater accuracy (r = 0.948 and 0.978).
Graduation Date: July 2009
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1928/9808

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grvsmth-phd1.pdf 2.576Mb PDF View/Open Original submission
grvsmth-phd091020.pdf 2.494Mb PDF View/Open Revised submission (page numbers revised)

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