Indefinites and negation in Ancient Greek

  • Chiara Gianollo Università di Bologna


The history of Greek negation is interesting for our theoretical understanding of negation systems in at least two respects, which I will investigate in this contribution. First, Homeric Greek is a Double Negation system, while Classical Greek exhibits Negative Concord. Homeric Greek already shows signs of a diachronic development: there are two series of negative indefinites, an older plain one and a newer emphatic one. The emphatic series is formed by means of the focus-sensitive correlative negation oudé. The latter is the only negatively marked element to exhibit redundancy in the marking of negation in Homeric Greek: it can be argued to be responsible for the birth of Negative Concord items in the language. Furthermore, the system exhibited by Classical Greek is very relevant for our understanding of the syntactic factors that shape Negative Concord. Classical Greek is a non-strict Negative Concord language. However, differ- ently from other well-studied languages of this type (e.g. Italian, Spanish, Portuguese), it shows extremely frequent cases of pre-Infl Concord among multiple Negative Concord items, a more constrained option in Romance. A study of their distribution may help shed light on the interaction between the syntax of Focus and Negative Concord.