In his excellent work, Negation in English and Other Languages (1917), Otto Jespersen has discovered a pattern that describes how linguistic negation shifts between several stages:
- Negation is expressed by a single negative marker (NEG1);
- Negation is expressed by NEG1 in a combination with a negative adverb or noun phrase (NEG2);
- NEG2 takes on the function of expressing negation by itself; NEG1 becomes optional;
- NEG1 becomes extinct and NEG2 expresses negation on its own.
However, I'm confused with its name. To me, a cycle is something that repeats over and over. As far as I understood, there's no evidence of more than a single iteration here. It seems that only certain languages (including English) have completed their first iteration, and the others (a majority) have not yet even completed their first iteration.
Hence, the question: why they called it a cycle?
UPD, thanks to Gaston Ümlaut: The term itself has been suggested by Östen Dahl in his work "Typology of Sentence Negation" (1979).