Re: THEORY: Is Jespersen cycle a cycle?
- BTW, just now I realize that Jespersen cycle has not to do with the
position of the negative word in relation to the verb. It's a cycle
just because the same phenomenon happens over and over again.
2013/8/23 Leonardo Castro <leolucas1980@...>:
> Yesterday, I noted that something similar to the Jespersen cycle might
> have happened to the present continuous tense, in my 1st language and
> probably in English and other languages too.
> When I was going home, I called my wife to say "I'm going home"
> ("estou indo para casa"), but that "I'm going" was first understood
> that I was already to leave my work in a few minutes.
> Similarly, other words whose literal interpretation is more close to
> "now" or "right now" are frequently used in the sense of "in a few
> minutes", probably because people abuse them for their spouses and
> parents not to keep asking them on the phone "why aren't they already
> What is more strange is that words that should reinforce the sense of
> "now" sometimes just make clearer the sense of "soon". In pt-BR, "Já!"
> is "Now!", but "Já, já..." is almost surely "Soon...". "Agora" is
> "now", but "agora mesmo" is also "soon".
> Abuse of the word "literally" seems to be moving its meaning towards
> So, it seems that the Jespersen cycle is a case of a broader
> phenomenon. Is there already a name for this type of "weaking of
> meaning" that can lead to change of meaning?
> What if the word "negative" is supressed from the following text?
> "The history of negative expressions in various languages makes us
> witness the following curious fluctuation: the original negative
> adverb is first weakened, then found insufficient and therefore
> strengthened, generally through some additional word, and this in turn
> may be felt as the negative proper and may then in the course of time
> be subject to the same development as the original word."
> Até mais!