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Correlative negation in Old Persian

  • Juan Briceño-Villalobos EMAIL logo


Negation is an operator that reverses the truth value of a proposition and it is considered an universal category (Horn 2001: xiii) since all human systems of communication contain a representation of propositional negation. Therefore, one of the most important features of negation is its markedness that sets a contrast between affirmation and negation. Said markedness is carried out in various ways by the world languages. As its standard negation, which is the most common kind of negation marking found in a given language (Payne 1985a: 198), Old Persian (OP) has nai̯, which is mainly used in assertions, while it has a non-standard, prohibitive marker, OP . Concerning correlative negation (‘neither … nor’), Old Persian systematically employs the asyndetic repetition of the negative marker, provided the notorious absence among Indo-Iranian languages of the standard negation plus the enclitic particle IIr. *-ča. The objective of this paper is to make a thorough description of this isogloss shared by Indo-Iranian languages and, in the case of Old Persian, try to contrast its data with the Achaemenid Elamite material. I believe this will shed some new light on the nature of the asyndetic repetition of the negative marker as a means of expressing correlative negation in Old Iranian.

Juan Briceño-Villalobos Department of Classics Universidad Complutense de Madrid Ciudad Universitaria Facultad de Filología Plaza Menéndez Pelayo Madrid, 28040 Spain




Achaemenid Elamite










early Greek












Middle Elamite


Middle Persian


Old Avestan


Old Iranian


Old Irish


Old Persian










Young Avestan.





















Modal Particle




Negative Polarity Item




















Standard negation


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Published Online: 2020-09-18
Published in Print: 2020-09-25

© 2020 Faculty of English, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań, Poland

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