A study of religious prose texts showed that negative inversion
(NegV1), e.g. Ne eom ic na Helias ('I am not Elias') was predominant in main clauses in OE and EME but had disappeared by
LME 14th century works, even in those retaining around 95% use of the ne negator.
This phenomenon is related here to the grammaticalisation of secondary
negation. In OE texts a sharp asymmetry was found in the distribution of the secondary negator na in favour of main clauses
as against subordinate clauses. In EME subordinate clause contexts frequencies of a secondary negator were quite similar across
all clause types studied, which is taken to indicate that grammaticalisation of the forms noht/nawt etc. was already underway.
As a grammatical marker of negation, they stood in Spec NegP, unlike na in OE (contra van Kemenade 2000). In this position
the secondary negator became able to check an interpretable [+neg] Specifier feature, as an alternative option competing with
the generation of the interpretable [+neg] feature as a Neg head feature in OE, where it was checked by ne. As a result
of this change, verb movement to C to check a strong but uninterpretable [+neg[ feature (Eythˇrsson 2002) was lost in later