He forbead þæt hi ne weopon: A negative element in the þæt-clause introduced by a verb of prohibition


correlative expressions
early Middle English
Old English
verbs of negative import

How to Cite

Ogura, M. (2020). He forbead þæt hi ne weopon: A negative element in the þæt-clause introduced by a verb of prohibition. SELIM. Journal of the Spanish Society for Medieval English Language and Literature., 25(1), 21–36. https://doi.org/10.17811/selim.25.2020.21-36


In ICEHL 20 at the University of Edinburgh, I made a report of my research on this theme. The present paper gives additional facts on the construction of a verb of negation followed by a þæt-clause with a negative element. What I try to exemplify is not a historical change from expletive negative to affirmative clause, but the facts that (i) the expletive negative was one of the correlative constructions based on Old English syntax and (ii) the affirmative clause was already found in early Old English together with the negative clause, even though the negative clause was frequent in late Old English to early Middle English and then decreased after late Middle English. The verb with negative import with a negated þæt-clause is, therefore, not an illogical expression but a stylistic device of combining the negation of the governing verb with the content of the governed, negated þæt-clause.



BT An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. 1898; rpt. 1972. Ed. J. Bosworth. London, Oxford University Press.

BTS An Anglo-Saxon Dictionary. Supplement. 1921; rpt. 1973. Eds. J. Bosworth & T. N. Toller. With revised and enlarged addenda by A. Campbell. London, Oxford University Press.

DOE: Dictionary of Old English, A–G in CD-ROM. 2008. The Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, University of Toronto.

DOEWC: Dictionary of Old English Web Corpus. 2009-. Eds. A. diPaolo Healey et al. Toronto, University of Toronto Press. www.doe.utoronto.ca

MED: Middle English Dictionary. 1952–2001. Eds. H. Kurath, S. M. Kuhn, J. Reidy & R. E. Lewis. Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Press. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/med

OED3: The Oxford English Dictionary Online. 3rd ed. 2015. Oxford, Oxford University Press. www.oed.com


Ishiguro, T. 1998: Verbs of Negative Import: A Syntactic Study that Benefited from the Dictionary of Old English Project. Old English Newsletter 26: 23–32.

Iyeiri, Y. 2010: Verbs of Implicit Negation and their Complements in the History of English. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, John Benjamins.

Ker, N. R. 1957/1990: Catalogue of Manuscripts containing Anglo-Saxon. Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Mitchell, B. 1985: Old English Syntax, 2 vols. Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Ogura, M. 1988: Direct or Indirect? — þæt as a Quotation Indicator. In O. Kinshiro et al. eds. Philologia Anglica. Essays Presented to Professor Yoshio Terasawa on the Occasion of his Sixtieth Birthday. Tokyo, Kenkyusha: 88–105.

Ogura, M. 2007: ME douten and dreden. In G. D. Caie ed. The Power of Words in Lexicography, Lexicology and Semantics in Honour of Christian Kay. Amsterdam, Rodopi: 117–130.

van der Wurff, W. 1999: On Expletive Negation with Adversative Predicates in the History of English. In I. Tieken-Boon van Ostade, G. Tottie & W. van der Wurff eds. Negation in the History of English. Berlin, Mouton de Gruyter: 295–327.

Visser, F. Th. 1963–1973: An Historical Syntax of the English Language. 3 Parts, 4 vols. Leiden, Brill.

Wallage, P. W. 2017: Negation in Early English Grammatical and Functional Change. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


Download data is not yet available.