||"Not or don't, that is the question.'' : I hope not vs. *I don't hope so*
松瀬, 憲司 ,
マツセ, ケンジMatsuse, Kenji
90 , 2017-12-19 , 熊本大学
In Present-day Standard English (PSE) there are some lexical verbs which also have a peculiar negative construction, namely do-less negation, such as They know not what they do, in spite the fact that do negation is normally the rule for them, like They don't know what do. Diachronically speaking, these two negative constructions belong to what we call "Jespersen's cycle," the former of which is its stage III beginning in the early Modern English period and the latter, its stage I' (= IV and V in the original) which we are on now. The reality is, however, stranger: we have a verb that seems not to have completely been in the stage I' even in PSE, too. It is the verb hope, for we usually cannot use don't as the negative marker for its declarative sentences: *I don't hope it rains. This is a typical example of lexical diffusion seen in do negation as a syntactic change. Since the verb hope has a rather strong semantic content, i.e., "desire," it is semantically hard to negate in its declarative sentences, especially when they have I hope. Its negative side, then, seems to be propitiously taken by I'm afraid instead, so that I hope and I'm afraid can be complementarily distributed.