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LINGUIST List 22.685

Thu Feb 10 2011

Diss: Historical Ling: Thornburg: 'Syntactic Reanalysis in Early ...'

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        1.     Linda Thornburg , Syntactic Reanalysis in Early English

Message 1: Syntactic Reanalysis in Early English
Date: 10-Feb-2011
From: Linda Thornburg <lthornburgalumni.usc.edu>
Subject: Syntactic Reanalysis in Early English
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Institution: University of Southern California
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1984

Author: Linda L. Thornburg

Dissertation Title: Syntactic Reanalysis in Early English

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Bernard Comrie
John A. Hawkins

Dissertation Abstract:

From 900 to 1500 the English language accomplished the major morphological
and syntactic changes that have come to distinguish it grammatically from
its parent language, Germanic, and such extant sister languages as German,
Icelandic and Faroese, the latter remaining case-marking languages while
English has become a fixed word-order language having only remnants of case
forms.

This dissertation undertakes an investigation of the sequences and
mechanisms of change whereby oblique (dative) noun phrases were reanalyzed
as Subject and Direct Object noun phrases. Under specific analysis are: (1)
the discrepant histories of nominal and pronominal inflectional leveling,
(2) the reanalysis of non-direct objects into direct objects and the
productivity of the passive operation, (3) the (apparent) discontinuous
history of the reanalysis of impersonal to personal constructions, and (4)
the relation of (1) and (3) to each other.

The claim is made and supported that these diachronic changes can be
understood more clearly in terms of (1) a non-discrete view of grammatical
relations, (2) a theory of transitivity as a global property of a clause
composed of an interrelated array of syntactic, semantic and pragmatic
parameters, and (3) certain universal properties of discourse structure.



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