Jespersen Cycles on Malekula

Julie Barbour 1
  • 1 School of Arts, The University of Waikato, Gate 1 Knighton Road, Private Bag 3105, Hamilton 3240, New Zealand
Julie Barbour


In the indigenous languages of Malekula Island, members of Oceanic, diverse standard negation strategies have been identified, including double negation, simple preverbal negators, and simple postverbal negators. Individual languages may display more than one strategy. In this article, evidence from Malekula is considered for the typological hypothesis known as the Jespersen Cycle(s). Six standard negation strategies are described in detail and illustrated using data from a sample of Malekula languages. Here, the Jespersen Cycle hypothesis is employed to understand diversity in the synchronic patterning of standard negation in a comparative analysis of the sample: the diverse standard negation strategies found both language-internally and comparatively can be understood as iterations of the Jespersen Cycle(s).

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Linguistic Typology publishes research on linguistic diversity and unity. It welcomes articles that report empirical findings about crosslinguistic variation, advance our understanding of the patterns of diversity, or refine typological methodology.