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The rise of clause-final negation in Flores-Lembata, Eastern Indonesia

Abstract: The Austronesian languages of Flores-Lembata in eastern Indonesia show all three stages of a Jespersen Cycle: some have a negator in pre-predicate position, others in clause-final position, and yet others have embracing double negation. In this article the various negation patterns in the Flores-Lembata languages are described using a sample of nine closely related languages of the region. It examines not only the negative constructions but also the etymology of the negators used, showing historical connections between some of the languages, as well as independent developments in others. On the basis of cross-linguistic evidence, and taking into account the non-Austronesian (Papuan) structures found in these Flores-Lembata languages, it is argued that the clause-final negation in several of these languages was caused by contact with speakers of Papuan languages during an earlier stage.
Keywords: negation / Flores Lembata languages / clause final / Austronesian / Indonesia

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