Chapter

A Comparison with Alternative Syntactic Constructions

Ruth Möhlig-Falke

in The Early English Impersonal Construction

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199777723
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199933310 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199777723.003.0006

Series: Oxford Studies in the History of English

A Comparison with Alternative Syntactic Constructions

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This chapter discusses the relationship between the impersonal and various personal syntactic uses of the forty-seven investigated Old English (OE) verbs. The alternative syntactic patterns and constructions discussed are personal (in)transitive patterns, extraposition constructions (i.e., hit- and ÞÆT-extraposition), reflexive patterns, the external(internal) possessor construction, the infinitive of obligation, and passive constructions. These syntactic constructions have either been said to replace the impersonal construction (most notably personal (in)transitive and hit-extraposition but also reflexive and passive constructions, or they share formal properties with the impersonal construction. The discussion of these alternative syntactic uses focuses on the formal and functional properties of these patterns/constructions in comparison with the impersonal patterns previously discussed, their frequency of occurrence with the investigated verbs, and their distribution across the OE textual sources, with particular reference to Latin interference and diachronic tendencies. The aim is to see whether and how these constructions functionally competed with the impersonal construction in OE and to determine more clearly which role the impersonal construction fulfilled in the grammatical system of early English in terms of its special functions and use.

Keywords: Old English verbs; syntactic use; impersonal use; transitive construction; intransitive construction; extraposition construction; reflexive patterns; external possessor construction; reflexive construction; passive construction

Chapter.  19964 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Linguistics

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