The categoric loss of verb particles in the history of French remainsproblematic in diachronic accounts of Medieval French syntax and Romance syntax in general. There is surprisingly little convergence in the literature about the cause of change and previous quantitative studies in the last 10 years are inconclusive about whether or not the particles pattern as a single unified change or as a series of gradual low-level lexical changes. To ad-dress this issue, we test the hypothesis that the Constant Rate Effect (CRE;Kroch1989) applies to this phenomenon by examining the time course ofchange of four verb particles: jus‘down’, fors/hors ‘out’, arrière ‘back’ and avant ‘forward’ as they appear in 770 texts that date from 1150 to 1699. Our findings, supported by the statistical tools of logistic regression and mixed-effects Poisson regression, establish that the particles change at a constant rate, consistent with an analysis whereby the loss of each particle is a reflex of an underlying grammatical change. The study is preceded by a description of the syntax of Medieval French verb particles from a generative perspective. The findings have important implications for the typological shift involving resultative secondary predication that occurred during the evolu-tion from Latin to Modern French.
Published: 2021-12-13