Auxiliary; History of English syntax; Syntactic variation; Adverb; Word order
Haeberli Eric (2017), Medial NP-Adjuncts in English: A Diachronic Perspective, in Aboh Enoch, Schönenberger Manuela, Puskas Genoveva, Haeberli Eric (ed.), De Gruyter, Berlin, Boston, 447-475.
HaeberliEric, IhsaneTabea, Micro- and Nano-Change in the Verbal Syntax of English., in Vikner Sten, Barany Andras, Douglas Jamie, Biberauer Theresa (ed.), Berlin, Language Science Press.
Haeberli Eric, Ihsane Tabea, The Recategorization of Modals in English: Evidence from Adverb Placement, in Egedi Barbara (ed.).
One of the main features that distinguishes Present-Day English (PDE) grammar from other languages is its auxiliary system. A characteristic property of the PDE auxiliaries is that they differ from lexical verbs with respect to a number of syntactic properties. These properties have emerged in the course of the attested history of English, and the nature of this change has been discussed extensively and sometimes controversially in the literature. The aim of this project is to shed new light on the history of English auxiliaries by examining an empirical domain that has not been explored in any detail yet, namely the distribution of auxiliaries with respect to adverbs. Throughout the history of English, there has been variation in this area of the grammar as certain adverbs can occur both before and after an auxiliary. This word order variation is a topic of interest for two main reasons: First, we are dealing here with a case of word order variation that has been maintained for centuries and continues to exist in PDE. Thus, the interaction of adverbs and auxiliaries provides an interesting case study on syntactic variation and change or the absence of change. Secondly, adverb placement is one of the diagnostic tests to distinguish auxiliaries from lexical verbs. The emergence of this diagnostic may therefore shed some light on the general diachronic development towards the modern auxiliary system that characterizes PDE.In this project, we will examine four syntactically parsed corpora covering nearly 800 years of linguistic history in order to provide a detailed quantitative and qualitative description of the development of the placement of auxiliaries with respect to adverbs from Middle English to Late Modern English. We will also consider this development against the background of the changes affecting lexical verbs in their placement with respect to adverbs. On the basis of these data, we will then explore a certain number of theoretical issues that arise, as for example the categorial status of auxiliaries or the structural analysis of the variation in the distribution of auxiliaries and adverbs over time.