The most common dialectal alternative to the Modern English comparative particle than is a negative form with variants such as ne, na, and nor, e.g. You're my son - more to me nor any son (Dickens, Great Expectations II. XX). This paper presents a detailed historical survey of this dialectal usage in varieties of British and Irish English, and offers an assessment of its regional distribution since the medieval period. The paper also investigates the possible origins of the form, first highlighting some problems of previous analyses, before comparing and contrasting the use of negation in comparative constructions in French and Insular Celtic. The evidence strongly suggests that the negative comparative particle in English should be seen as an areal feature of the British Isles, and that language contact with Celtic lies at the root of it.
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