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Variation and change in Old English clause structure

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 November 2008

Susan Pintzuk
Affiliation:
University of York

Abstract

In most recent analyses of Old English syntax, the position of the finite verb is derived by different processes in main clauses (verb seconding) than in subordinate clauses (postposition, verb raising, verb projection raising). In this article, it is argued on the basis of distributional evidence that the position of the finite verb in Old English clauses reflects synchronic variation in underlying structure, INFL-medial versus infl-final, and that the syntax of main and subordinate clauses is the same. Quantitative analysis of the data shows that the frequency of infl-medial structure increases at the expense of infl-final structure during the Old English period, and that the rate of change is the same in both clause types. This result supports the structural analysis and provides further evidence for the Constant Rate Hypothesis of Kroch (1989, 1995).

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995

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