LINGUIST List 4.400

Mon 24 May 1993

Sum: Contraction

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. pintzuks, summary: contraction

Message 1: summary: contraction

Date: Wed, 19 May 1993 08:08:02 summary: contraction
From: pintzuks <pintzuksacf2.NYU.EDU>
Subject: summary: contraction

Several weeks ago, I posted the following query to LINGUIST:

> Some students who do not have access to the Linguist List are looking
> for studies of contraction of "not", modals, and auxiliaries in the
> history of English, particularly from about 1700 on. Please respond
> directly to me, and I will pass the responses on. If there is enough
> interest, I will post a summary to the Linguist List.

As all good linguists should realize (but I didn't), the above query
is ambiguous. I meant "studies of contraction of "not", contraction
of modals, and contraction of auxiliaries". I received some responses
about studies of modals and auxiliaries in general, which I will not
summarize here.

Several people mentioned two standard works on the history of English,
both of which contain examples and discussion of the history of
particular constructions. I've listed them below for the benefit of
anyone who isn't familiar with them:

Jespersen, Otto. 1909-1949. A Modern English Grammar on Historical
 Principles. Copenhagen: Ejnar Munksgaard.
Visser, F. Th. 1963-1973. An Historical Syntax of the English
 Language. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

I've been informed of only two recent studies available for
distribution that discuss contraction in the history of English.
These are listed below. The CLS volume was published a few weeks ago.

McElhinny, Bonnie. 1992. The interaction of syntax, semantics and
 phonology in language change: The case of modal contraction in
 English. In Proceedings of the 28th Regional Meeting of the
 Chicago Linguistic Society.
Reynolds, Bill. 1990. The origin of the use of the negative adverbial
 contraction -n't. Ms., University of Pennsylvania.

My students are just beginning a quantitative study of contraction in
the history of English, so they have nothing ready yet for

Thanks very much to everyone who responded.

Susan Pintzuk
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