Negation is one of the main functions in human communication.A History of English Negation is the first book to analyse English negation over the whole of its documented history, using a wide database and accessible terminology. After an introductory chapter, the book analyses evidence from the whole sample of Old English documents available, and from several Middle English and Renaissance documents, showing that the range of forms used at any single stage is wider, and the pace of their change considerably faster, than previously commonly assumed. The book moves on to review current formalised accounts of the situation in Modern English, tracing the changes in rules for expressing negation that have intervened since the earliest documented history of the language.
Since the standard is only one variety of a language, it also surveys the means of negation used in some non-standard and dialectal varieties of English.
The book concludes with a look at relatively recently born languages such as Pidgins and Creoles, to investigate the degree of naturalness of the principles that rule the expression of English negation.