We examine the relation between ne...pas rien and ne...pas aucun in 17th and 18th centuries French negative contexts, in Standard French but also in vernacular French. We make the hypothesis that the source of negative concord with pas + Neg Word is not linked to the deletion of ne and the weakening of pas but is rather triggered by changes which affected the value of the negative word itself. We argue that, as in forclusive contexts, the Neg word is analyzed as an polarity item in the context ne...pas rien/aucun. This polarity reading in that context disappears during Classical Standard French with the fixation of the two-terms negation (ne... N-word) and the reanalysis of rien as an negative adverb. However, the polarity item reading has been maintained in vernacular French for rien and aucun, more particularly in contexts where the polarity item is modified.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Linguistics and Language