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Ling Fridays: Elliot on Negation in Enxet Sur
November 18, 2022 @ 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm
The Path(s) to Zero Negation in Enxet Sur
Linguistics Fridays Colloquia talk
Post-doctoral researcher, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
(Email email@example.com for the link)
Enxet Sur [ISO639-3:enx], an Enlhet-Enenlhet language of the Paraguayan Chaco, uses a complex and cross-linguistically unusual standard negation construction in which a confluence of multiple morphosyntactic indicators signal negation without the use of an overt, dedicated negator morpheme — what Miestamo (2008) terms a Zero Negative. On top of the formal complexity of this Zero Negative construction, the documentary record on the language also shows substantial variation in standard negation and other negation constructions related to the Zero Negative. In this talk, I will 1) describe the Enxet Sur Zero Negation construction in a typological perspective, 2) discuss the documentary and descriptive challenges presented by the variation involving the construction, and 3) show how this variation provides evidence for a diachronic pathway to the development of Zero Negation through negator ellipsis. This study exemplifies the value of documenting and describing variation in understudied languages, as doing so provides a diverse pool of evidence for defining diachronic trajectories of change that can help explain the existence of unfamiliar phenomena.