• On the historical development of pronouns referring to situations
    Vol. 7 No. 2 (2023)

    Eric Fuß & Roland Hinterhölzl. At least since Milsark (1974) expletives have been a major research topic in generative linguistics. However, since most relevant work has focused on the present-day languages, many aspects of the historical development of expletives are still unsettled. This applies in particular to the emergence of CP related pre-finite expletives in the history of the Germanic V2 languages. Focusing on German, this paperseeks to shed new light on the diachrony of CP expletive es ‘it’ by combining new empirical evidence gathered from a range of corpus studies with a novel theoretical perspective on the syntax and pragmatic functions of so-called ‘expletive’ elements. Paying special attention to the contexts in which pre-finite expletive es first appeared, we provide new data on linguistic and extralinguistic factors (such as text type and dialect area) that shaped its development. We show that es came to be used as a prefield filler earlier than previously thought, with the first clear cases dating to the 12th century. In addition, we will investigate the role of light frame adverbials such as thô/dô ‘then’ as potential precursors of expletive es and address the question of why the latter replaced the former in the history of German. The discussion of the historicaldata is embedded in a new proposal concerning the discourse function of CP-related expletives. In particular, we argue that ‘expletive’ es is not a semantically vacuous element, but rather a demonstrative element with a weak definite reading that is compatible with introducing a new situation (identified with an argument of Tense, cf. Hinterhölzl 2019) but also with continuing an established reference situation, explaining the success of es as a versatile element that anchors the utterance to the context.
  • Free inversion in Old High German and Cimbrian
    Vol. 7 No. 1 (2023)

    Federica Cognola. Part of the Special Collection "Secrets of Success". In this paper I compare Old High German and the Germanic dialect Cimbrian, two languages which share the availability of free inversion in co-occurrence with an expletive-like element tho and da ‘there’, and I show that they share striking similarities which follow from their pro-drop nature. Tho is typically analysed as a narrative/discourse-continuative marker (Axel 2007, Fuß & Hinterhölzl 2019) appearing in CP or in TP – an account which does not make sense though of the fact that its distribution is restricted to certain verb types (typically unaccusatives, verbs of saying) and constructions (such as passives). In this paper I reconsider the possibility that tho and free inversion are to be connected to the availability of pro-drop in Old High German (cf. Haeberli 2001 for this idea for Old English) and I show that if we apply a Topic-matching analysis for the licensing of null subjects (Frascarelli 2007, 2018) to the Old High German data we are able to solve the problems of Haeberli’s account discussed in Axel (2007). These problems all follow from the assumption that tho lexicalises a there-type expletive appearing in Spec,TP which goes against the evidence for tho. In my alternative account I show that in Old High German free inversion involves the presence of an overt or silent expletive tho, a locative argument selected by the lexical verb which can be promoted to an expletive of the TopicP position in the left periphery in sentences in which the DP subject has not moved out of the VP (cf. Tortora 2001 on free inversion in Italian) and whose function is to satisfy the EPP feature associated with the Topic-criterion needed for the licensing of pro in Spec,TP (Frascarelli 2007, 2018). The availability of free inversion was lost in the history of German due to the loss of pro-drop but it is still available in the Cimbrian dialect spoken in the village of Luserna. In Cimbrian free inversion obligatory involves overt da, a CP expletive, enclitic to the finite verb or the complementiser and whose function is purely formal, i.e. licensing pro in TP, as proposed by Bidese & Tomaselli (2018). I will suggest that the two elements are connected and that Cimbrian da is not an innovation but results from a grammaticalisation process of tho according to which the locative expletive develops from a maximal category with discourse properties (tho) into a head (da) with functional/grammatical status (van Gelderen’s 2010 Head Preference Principle).
  • Special issue: Cross-disciplinary approaches to linguistic variation in Early Modern West Germanic
    Vol. 6 No. 13-18 (2022)

    This thematic issue on Early Modern West Germanic homes in on the processes underlying the extensive amount of morphosyntactic variation and change within and between language users in this era. It demonstrates that language structure and language use often interacted with each other, and illustrates that, to fully understand the triggers and extent of this variation and change, we need to combine perspectives and methodological tools from different (sub)disciplines. That is why this issue brings together scholars working on Early Modern West Germanic in different fields and disciplines -- in particular scholars from early modern literary studies, formal (historical) linguistics, computational linguistics and historical sociolinguistics -- to present a wide array of possible methodologies to investigate historical language variation, and to explore how the different approaches can complement each other to help further our understanding of the complex setting of variation.
  • Special Issue: Creating annotated corpora for historical languages
    Vol. 6 No. 4-11 (2022)

    This Special Issue derives from a workshop ‘Creating annotated corpora for historical languages’, held at Selwyn College, Cambridge on 26–27 September 2019. The workshop formed part of a wider project ‘Developing a Welsh Historical Treebank’, funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust, which aimed to develop conventions and procedures that might form the basis for a fully parsed representative corpus of historical Welsh texts. The workshop was designed to share experience of building annotated historical corpora, focusing in particular on the technical issues involved. Contributions to the workshop and the resulting Special Issued focused both on corpus creation (text creation or the difficulties involved in creating parsing conventions, for instance) or on the issues involved in using corpora in linguistic research.
  • Tolerating subject-experiencers? Yang's Tolerance Principle applied to psych verbs under contact in Middle English
    Vol. 6 No. 12 (2022)

    This article investigates the acquisition of psych verbs in diachrony by applying Yang's (2016) Tolerance and Sufficiency Principles. It has been observed that psych verbs change from expressing the EXPERIENCER as object to expressing it as subject cross-linguistically. According to van Gelderen (2018) and others, this development has also taken place in the history of English. What is much less well-known, however, is that a considerable number of Old French psych verbs were copied to Middle English. Using lexicon-based and corpus-based data, we will apply Yang's (2016) Tolerance and Sufficiency Principles to evaluate historical "tipping points" in the development of the psych verb class, i.e. examine whether either amuse-type or admire-type argument structures were productive in Middle English. Since subject-EXPERIENCERS were commonly used with intransitive and reflexive constructions we will further investigate whether a more general rule that any psych verb may take a subject-EXPERIENCER passed the productivity threshold. We will show that this was indeed the case in Middle English and that the copying of Old French verbs accelerated this development.
  • A hierarchical TP structure in Ancient Greek
    Vol. 5 No. 41 (2021)

    Andrea Matticchio, Emanuela Sanfelici
  • On the unified change of directional/aspectual verb particles in French
    Vol. 5 No. 40 (2021)

    Michelle Troberg, Justin Leung
  • Special Issue: Whither Reanalysis?
    Vol. 5 No. 32-39 (2021)

    Special issue inspired by the workshop “Whither Reanalysis?” (Humboldt University Berlin, 1–2 March 2019). Dedicated to the memory of Uli Detges.
  • Parametric Stability and Word Order Change: The Case of Middle French
    Vol. 5 No. 31 (2021)

    Sam Wolfe. Part of the Special Collection "Secrets of Success".
  • Do the wealthy stay healthy? Rich agreement and verb movement in early English
    Vol. 5 No. 30 (2021)

    George Walkden. Part of the Special Collection "Secrets of Success".
  • V2 Beyond Borders: The Histoire Ancienne jusqu'à César
    Vol. 5 No. 29 (2021)

    Adam Ledgeway. Part of the Special Collection "Secrets of Success".
  • Verb-second and verb-first in the history of Icelandic
    Vol. 5 No. 28 (2021)

    Hannah Booth, Christin Beck
  • Proceedings of the 21st Diachronic Generative Syntax (DiGS) Conference
    Vol. 5 No. 16-25 (2021)

    Proceedings of the 21st Diachronic Generative Syntax (DiGS) Conference, which was held at Arizona State University in June 2019.
  • Voice neutrality in Hittite infinitives: a restructuring analysis
    Vol. 5 No. 15 (2021)

    Ekaterina Lyutikova, Andrei Sideltsev
  • Proceedings of the 20th Diachronic Generative Syntax (DiGS) Conference
    Vol. 5 No. 1-13 (2021)

    Proceedings of the 20th Diachronic Generative Syntax (DiGS) Conference, which was held in York, UK, in June 2018.
  • Language 95 (2)

    "Contact-induced variation in Transylvanian Saxon verb clusters", by Ariana Bancu. Published as part of the Historical Syntax section of Language 95 (2). Articles reproduced here with authors' permission.
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