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Revisiting the loss of verb movement in the history of English

Authors: Eric Haeberli; Tabea Ihsane;

Revisiting the loss of verb movement in the history of English

Abstract

Most of the discussions of the loss of verb movement in the history of English have focused on data related to the rise of do-support. In this paper, we extend the empirical basis to evidence from adverb placement. Our analysis of the distribution of finite main verbs with respect to adverbs in a range of prose texts in the history of English shows that the decline of V-movement in English starts in the middle of the 15th century and that verb movement past adverbs is lost to a large extent around the middle of the 16th century. These observations differ considerably from what data involving the sentential negator not indicate. According to that evidence, the loss of verb movement is a rather long process starting in the 16th century and coming to completion over 200 years later. In order to reconcile the conflicting diachronic evidence from adverb placement and the syntax of negation, we propose that the loss of verb movement in English is not a single event but occurs sequentially. In a first phase, verb movement to T is lost while movement to a lower inflectional head is maintained. In a second phase, verb movement starts being lost completely. We show that the Rich Agreement Hypothesis, which has been very prominent in accounts of variation with respect to verb movement, cannot capture these developments in a satisfactory way. Instead, it is verbal morphology more generally that will be argued to play a role in connection with the occurrence of verb movement. However, we do not postulate a strong correlation between morphology and syntax and propose that the loss of verb movement in English is the result of a combination of factors: changes in the verbal morphosyntax (loss of subjunctive, rise of periphrastic forms), an acquisitional bias towards simpler structures, the decline of the subject-verb inversion grammar found in early English, and effects of dialect contact.

Subjects by Vocabulary

Microsoft Academic Graph classification: History Modal verb Verb Nominative case Linguistics Reflexive verb Inversion (linguistics) Verb phrase ellipsis Infinitive Tough movement

Keywords

Linguistics and Language, Language and Linguistics

22 references, page 1 of 3

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Biber, Douglas, Stig Johansson, Geoffrey Leech, Susan Conrad, and Edward Finegan. 1999. Longman grammar of spoken and written English. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Biberauer, Theresa, and Ian Roberts. 2010. Subjects, Tense and verb-movement. In Parametric Variation: Null Subjects in Minimalist Theory, eds. Theresa Biberauer, Anders Holmberg, Ian Roberts, and Michelle Sheehan, 263-302. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bobaljik, Jonathan, and Höskuldur Thráinsson. 1998. Two heads aren't always better than one. Syntax 1: 37-71.

Bosworth, Joseph. 1898. An Anglo-Saxon dictionary: Based on the manuscript collections of the late Joseph Bosworth, ed. Thomas Northcote Toller. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Cardinaletti, Anna, and Ian Roberts. 2002. Clause structure and X-second. In Functional structure in DP and IP: The cartography of syntactic structures, Vol. 1, ed. Guglielmo Cinque, 123-166. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [OpenAIRE]

Chomsky, Noam. 2000. Minimalist inquiries: the framework. In Step by step. Essays on minimalist syntax in honor of Howard Lasnik, eds. Roger Martin, David Michaels, and Juan Uriagereka, 89-155. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Chomsky, Noam. 2001. Derivation by phase. In Ken Hale: a life in language, ed. Michael Kenstowicz, 1-52. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Cinque, Guglielmo. 1999. Adverbs and functional heads. A cross-linguistic perspective. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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    Average
  • citations
    This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    11
    popularity
    This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
    Top 10%
    influence
    This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
    Average
    impulse
    This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
    Average
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citations
This is an alternative to the "Influence" indicator, which also reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Citations provided by BIP!
popularity
This indicator reflects the "current" impact/attention (the "hype") of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Popularity provided by BIP!
influence
This indicator reflects the overall/total impact of an article in the research community at large, based on the underlying citation network (diachronically).
BIP!Influence provided by BIP!
impulse
This indicator reflects the initial momentum of an article directly after its publication, based on the underlying citation network.
BIP!Impulse provided by BIP!
11
Top 10%
Average
Average
Funded by
SNSF| Studying Variation in Syntax: A Parsed Corpus of Swiss German
Project
  • Funder: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • Project Code: 146450
  • Funding stream: Projects | Project funding
,
SNSF| Revisiting the Loss of Verb Movement in the History of English: Adverb Placement in Middle and Early Modern English
Project
  • Funder: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)
  • Project Code: 124619
  • Funding stream: Projects | Project funding
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