V2 beyond borders

The Histoire Ancienne jusqu'à César

  • Adam Ledgeway University of Cambridge
Keywords: V2, old French, C-system, V-movement, EPP, Word Order


While the V2 status of medieval Romance and old French in particular is widely supported by detailed empirical and statistical studies, there are still some dissenting voices, such that the introduction and detailed scrutiny of new data, especially involving a range of more diverse textual sources, is a welcome addition in that it can provide important confirmatory evidence in favour of the V2 hypothesis. The present article therefore undertakes a detailed examination of the word order of a non-canonical old French prose text, the Histoire Ancienne jusqu’à César (henceforth HA), of particular interest since its earliest manuscript witnesses were produced outside of France providing us with a precious example of a supralocal use of French. Within this context, the study of word order and, in particular, the evidence for a V2 constraint in the HA offers us a discrete scientifically-controllable variable by which to measure the extent of structural unity across those mutually intelligible medieval koinés, of which the language of the HA is but one example, albeit from outside of France. An examination of the word order of the HA, in itself an original result, is shown to follow a V2 syntax, thereby underlining the salience of this structural constraint as a distinctive and stable feature of the grammars of medieval French texts produced both inside and outside of France. At the same time, this strengthens, in turn, claims for the existence of a common medieval Romance syntax characterized by a shared structural norm in the form of the V2 constraint, arguably the common denominator and hallmark of all medieval Romance grammars.
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