Semantic Analysis of Old English Verbs Capable of Impersonal Use

Ruth Möhlig-Falke

in The Early English Impersonal Construction

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199777723
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933310 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in the History of English

Semantic Analysis of Old English Verbs Capable of Impersonal Use

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This chapter presents the results of the semantic analysis of the verbs capable of impersonal use in Old English (OE). The semantic analysis of the verb lexemes is the first step in the investigation of how verb meaning and constructional meaning interacted in OE to determine the function and role of the impersonal construction in the OE system of transitivity. The semantic characterizations offered for the individual verbs comprise the identification of the conceptual domains to which the individual verbs belong, the nature of the States of Affairs denoted by the verbs (i.e., their process type according to the properties of dynamicity, control, relationality, and causation), and their semantic frames in terms of profiled and unprofiled participant roles. This semantic analysis is based on the occurrences of the respective verbs in both personal (in)transitive and impersonal patterns, with personal (in)transitive use being considered to be the more basic and neutral sentence structure. The examples used for the illustration of verb senses in this chapter are accordingly not restricted to impersonal uses.

Keywords: semantic analysis; verbs; Old English; impersonal construction; transitivity

Chapter.  13508 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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