Historical Aspects of Standard Negation in Semitic


In Historical Aspects of Standard Negation in Semitic Ambjörn Sjörs investigates the grammar of standard negation in a wide selection of Semitic languages. The bulk of the investigation consists of a detailed analysis of negative constructions and is based on a first-hand examination of the examples in context.

The main issues that are investigated in the book relate to the historical change of the expression of verbal negation in Semitic and the reconstruction of the genealogical relationship of negative constructions. It shows how negation is constantly renewed from the reanalysis of emphatic negative constructions, and how structural asymmetries between negative constructions and the corresponding affirmative constructions arise from the linguistically conservative nature of negative vis-à-vis affirmative clauses.

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Ambjörn Sjörs, Ph.D. (2015), Uppsala University, is a post-doc researcher 2016—2019 at the University of Cambridge, the University of Chicago, and Uppsala University.
"In conclusion, [Historical Aspects of Standard Negation in Semitic] is a good addition to studies in comparative Semitics. It includes a thorough overview and discussion of the earlier literature on negation and reassesses these opinions using material from various classic and modern languages. The author is to be congratulated on this diligent work and given our profound thanks for her valuable contribution to the field." ~ Jacob J. de Ridder, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, in Weiner Zeitschrift Fur Die Kunde Des Morgenlandes (Volume 109, 2019).

"The breadth and depth of this tome is remarkable; both the data and the secondary literature are, for the most part, expertly presented, and the discussion is evenhanded. [...] Although I find myself in disagreement with a number of the claims in the book, it is nevertheless an important and thorough work that should be a part of any serious Semitic library.” ~ Na'ama Pat-El, University of Texas at Austin, in Journal of the American Oriental Society (141/3, 2021).

“(…) there are already numerous studies in comparative Semitics about negation. Sjörs’ book, however, provides by far the most detailed and exhaustive study of the topic, and it will definitely stand as a major contribution to the field for many years. It will be of use for both scholars interested in phenomena related to negation and, at the same time, for linguists and philologist who work on the languages that are covered extensively in the book.” ~ Elitzur Bar-Asher Siegal, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in Orientalistische Literaturzeitung (116/4–5, 2021).

List of Tables and Diagrams
Abbreviations, Terminology, and Symbols

Part 1: Introduction

1 Preliminaries
 1.1 Objective, Scope, and Method
 1.2 Previous Research on Negation in Comparative Semitic Linguistics
 1.3 Languages and Text Material

2 On the Grammar of Negation
 2.1 Functional Perspectives on Negation
 2.2 Standard Negation and Finiteness
 2.3 Standard Negation and Asymmetries
 2.4 Non-Standard Negation
 2.5 Renewal of Negation

Part 2: Presentation and Analysis of the Material

3 Old Assyrian and East Semitic
 3.1 Introduction
 3.2emsp;Standard Negation
 3.3emsp;Emphatic Negation with ulā
 3.4emsp;Negated Interrogative and Subordinate Clauses
 3.5emsp;Prohibitive ē iprus
 3.6emsp;Prohibitions with lā
 3.7emsp;Excursus: Literary Old Babylonian
 3.8emsp;Excursus: Eblaite

4 Ugaritic
 4.2emsp;Negative *lā and Asseverative *la-
 4.3emsp;Past lā yqtl
 4.4emsp;Negated qvtvla
 4.5emsp;Non-past lā yqtl
 4.6emsp;Emphatic Negation and Noun-phrase Negation
 4.7emsp;Negated Subordinate Clauses
 4.8emsp;The Prohibitor ʔal-
 4.9emsp;Pleonastic Negation

5 Standard Biblical Hebrew
 5.2emsp;Orthography of lō
 5.3emsp;Negated Asyndetic Clauses
 5.4emsp;Syndetic wə-lō qvtvla
 5.5emsp;Syndetic wə-lō yvqtvlu
 5.6emsp;Syndetic wə-X lō qvtvla/yvqtvlu
 5.7emsp;Negative Conditional Linkings and Pleonastic Negation
 5.8emsp;Negative Questions and Constituent Negation
 5.9emsp;The Prohibitor ʔal-

6 Phoenician
 6.2emsp;Negative bl
 6.3emsp;The Prohibitor ʔl
 6.4emsp;Negative ʔy and ʔy-bl

7 Aramaic, Deir Alla, and Sam’alian
 7.2emsp;Orthography of lā
 7.4emsp;Negated qvtvla
 7.5emsp;Negation of qātil
 7.6emsp;Negated yvqtvlu
 7.7emsp;Negative Possible Consequence Clauses
 7.8emsp;The Prohibitor ʔal-
 7.9emsp;Western Neo-Aramaic

8 Quran Arabic
 8.2emsp;Orthography of lā
 8.3emsp;lā yvqtvlu in Declarative Main Clauses
 8.4emsp;Negative lam
 8.5emsp;Negative mā
 8.6emsp;Negated Interrogative and Subordinate Clauses
 8.7emsp;Negated Conditional Linkings
 8.8emsp;Prohibitive lā yvqtvl and lā yvqtvlanna
 8.9emsp;Negated yvqtvla
 8.10emsp;Negative ʔin

9 Minaic, Sabaic, and Ancient South Arabian
 9.3emsp;Early and Middle Sabaic
 9.4emsp;Late Sabaic and Negative dʔ
 9.5emsp;Negative lm in Amiritic

10 Jibbali and Modern South Arabian
 10.2emsp;Allomorphs of the Preverbal Negator
 10.3emsp;Negation in Jibbali

11 Tigre and Tigrinya
 11.2emsp;The Preverbal Negator in Northern Ethiosemitic
 11.3emsp;Negation in Tigre
 11.4emsp;Negation in Tigrinya

12 Amharic and Harari
 12.2emsp;The Preverbal Negator in Amharic and Harari
 12.3emsp;Negation with Clitic *-ma in Amharic and Harari
 12.4emsp;Negative Asymmetries
 12.5emsp;Non-standard Negation in Amharic and Harari
 12.6emsp;Excursus: The Negated Imperfective in Wolane and Silte

13 Gafat, Kistane, and Peripheral Western Gurage
 13.2emsp;The Preverbal Negator in Gafat and Kistane
 13.3emsp;Negation in Gafat
 13.4emsp;Negative Asymmetries in Kistane
 13.5emsp;Excursus: Negation in Peripheral Western Gurage

Part 3: Concluding Discussion

14 Innovative Expressions of Negation
 14.1emsp;Collocation and Univerbation with Focus Particles
 14.2emsp;Reanalysis of Scale Reversal Contexts
 14.3emsp;Collocation with Markers for Old Information
 14.4emsp;Collocation with Pro-sentential Negators

15 Other Negators and Negative Asymmetries
 15.2emsp;Northwest Semitic
 15.4emsp;Ancient South Arabian
 15.5emsp;Modern South Arabian

16 Reconstruction
 16.1emsp;Distribution of *lā and *ʔal-
 16.2emsp;Negated yvqtvl in Northwest Semitic and Akkadian
 16.3emsp;Development of *ʔal- to a Standard Negator

Anyone interested in the grammar of negation, Semitic languages and linguistics, historical linguistics, and linguistic typology.
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