The purpose of this workshop was to bring together scholars with an interest in the evolution of negation, cyclical processes in language change and historical-comparative linguistics. Most of the papers included in the program focus on the Negative Existential Cycle, a process whereby general negation markers can be seen to develop from negative existentials; the latter are typically lexical item such as Russian net or Turkish yok which simply state the non-existence of an object or entity. This cycle was first suggested by (Croft 1991) based on cross-linguistic data. Until recently it had never been tested on diachronic data by the historical-comparative method. This workshop and the subsequent planned volume are intended to fill this gap and bring to light new knowledge about the evolution of negation and the notion of cycle(s) in language change.

The workshop opened with presentations where cyclical processes were discussed in a general manner. In the subsequent sessions, we included presentations on the full or partial instantiation of the negative existential cycle in a number of language families around the world, starting from Africa and then moving through Europe, Asia, Oceania and finally South America. In the final session we put abstracts that deal with cyclical processes other than the negative existential cycle.

Workshop programme

Workshop organizers:

Ljuba Veselinova (University of Stockholm) and Arja Hamari (University of Helsinki)

We gratefully acknowledge funding from a cooperation grant for collaboration between Stockholm University and University of Helsinki which enabled the organization of the workshop.