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Inflectional Morphology and the Loss of Verb-Second in English

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Published in Lightfoot, D. Syntactic Effects of Morphological Change. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2002, p. 88-106
Abstract This paper proposes an analysis of the loss of V2 in the history of English. On the basis of comparative evidence from the modern West Germanic languages, I argue that the loss of the frequent occurrence of V2 patterns in contexts of non-operator fronting is a consequence of the loss of empty expletives during the Middle English period. Given the standard assumption that the licensing of empty pronominal elements is related to properties of the verbal agreement morphology, I propose that the loss of V2 in the history of English can ultimately be reduced to a change in the inflectional morphology during the Middle English period. This conclusion supports recent work which suggests that the morphological properties of a language can play an important role in determining its syntactic properties.
Keywords AgreementExpletivesMiddle EnglishSubject-verb inversionVerb Second
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HAEBERLI, Eric. Inflectional Morphology and the Loss of Verb-Second in English. In: Lightfoot, D. (Ed.). Syntactic Effects of Morphological Change. Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2002. p. 88-106. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:35614

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Deposited on : 2014-04-10

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