with ne: ez en mac mih nieman troesten, si en tuo z 'there may no one console me, unless she do it'
without ne: nieman kan hie fr?ude finden, si zerge 'no one can find joy here, that does not vanish.'
The first example here is reasonable; the second contains a whimsical use of the subjunctive that owes its existence only to the phonetic disappearance of ne in similar contexts. We observe in our examples also a plus-or-minus of ne, en in the main clause along with nieman 'nobody.' This, too, left an ambiguous type: both an old dehein 'any' and an old ne dehein 'not any' must have led, in certain phonetic contexts, to dehein 'any; not any.' Both these meanings of dehein appear in our older texts, as well as a ne dehein 'not any'; of the three possibilities, only dehein 'not any' (> kein) survives in modern standard German.
In French, certain words that are widely used with a verb and the negative adverb, have also a negative meaning when used without a verb. Thus, pas [pa] 'step' (< Latin possum) has the two uses in je ne vais pas 'I don't go' (originally 'I go not a step') and in pas mal [pa mal] 'not badly, not so bad'; personne [person] 'person' (< Latin personam) appears also in je ne vois personne 'I don't see anyone,' and in personne 'nobody'; rien (< Latin rem 'a thing') has lost ordinary noun values, and occurs in je ne vois rien 'I don't see anything' and in rien 'nothing.' This development has been described as contagion or condensation. It can be better understood if we suppose that, during the medieval period of high stress and vowel-weakening, French ne ( French il chante 'he sings'). This latter change has been explained, in the case of French, as a result of the homonymy, due to sound-change, of the various Latin inflections; however, in English and in German, forms like sing, singest, singeth have come to demand an actor, although there is no homonymy.
2.4. General Assumptions.
Special factors like these will account for only a small proportion of the wealth of marginal meanings that faces us in every language. It remained for a modern scholar, H. Sperber, to point out that extensions of meaning are by no means to be taken for granted, and that the first step toward understanding them must be to find, if we can, the context in which the new meaning first appears [, p. 439]. This will always be difficult, because it demands that the student observe very closely the meanings of the form in all older occurrences; it is especially hard to make sure of negative features, such as the absence, up to a certain date, of a certain shade of meaning. In most cases, moreover, the attempt is bound to fail because the records do not contain the critical locu-tions. Nevertheless, Sperber succeeded in finding the critical context for the extension of older German kopf 'cup, bowl, pot' to the meaning 'head': the new value first appears in our texts at the end of the Middle Ages, in battle-scenes, where the matter is one of smashing someone's head. An English example of the same sort is the extension of bede 'prayer' to the present meaning of bead: the extension is known to have occurred in connection with the use of the rosary, where one counted one's bedes (originally prayers,' then 'little spheres on a string').
In the ordinary case of semantic extension we must look for a context in which our form can be applied to both the old and the new meanines. The obsolescence of other contexts - in our examples, of German kopf applied to earthen vessels and of bead ' prayer' - will then leave the new value as an unambiguous central meaning. The reason for the extension, however, is another matter. We still ask why the medieval German poet should speak of a warrior smashing his enemy's 'bowl' or 'pot,' or the pious Englishman of counting 'prayers' rather than 'pearls.' Sperber supposes that intense emotion (that is, a powerful stimulus) leads to such transferences. Strong stimuli lead to the favoring of novel speech-forms at the cost of forms that have been heard in indifferent contexts, but this general tendency cannot account for the rise of specific marginal meanings.
The methodical error which has held back this phase of our work is our habit of putting the question in non-linguistic terms - in terms of meaning and not of form. When we say that the word meat has changed from the meaning 'food' to the meaning 'edible flesh,' we are merely stating the practical result of a linguistic process. In situations where both words were applicable, the word meat was favored at the cost of the word flesh, and, on the model of such cases, it came to be used also in situations where formerly the word flesh alone would have been applicable. In the same way, words like food and dish encroached upon the word meat. This second displacement may have resulted from the first because the ambiguity of meat 'food' and meat 'flesh-food' was troublesome in practical kitchen life. We may some day find out why flesh was disfavored in culinary situations.
Once we put the question into these terms, we see that a normal extension of meaning is the same process as an extension of grammatical function. When meat, for whatever reason, was being favored, and flesh, for whatever reason, was on the decline, there must have occurred proportional extensions of the pattern:
leave the bones and bring the flesh : leave the bones and bring the meat
= give us bread and flesh : x,
resulting in a new phrase, give us bread and meat. The forms at the left, containing the word flesh, must have borne an unfavorable connotation which was absent from the forms at the right, with the word meat.
A semantic change, then, is a complex process. It involves favorings and disfavorings, and, as its crucial point, the extension of a favored form into practical applications which hitherto belonged to the disfavored form. This crucial extension can be observed only if we succeed in finding the locutions in which it was made, and in finding or reconstructing the model locutions in which both forms were used alternatively. Our records give us only an infinitesimal fraction of what was spoken, and this fraction consists nearly always of elevated speech, which avoids new locutions. In Sperber's example